Develop good study habits

Good study habits can mean the difference between failure and success. Once you're aware of any bad study habits that are holding you back, you can change them.

Some questions to ask yourself

  • Think about your study habits. What habits do you have?
  • Are you happy with the way you're doing things?
  • Have you always studied in the same old way, but not been happy with what you achieve? If so, you may have some bad study habits.

If you’re not happy, decide what you want to change, and do it every day for 30 days. This will help to make your new habit automatic. That's only a month – you can do it.

Effective habits for effective studying - Study Guides and Strategies website (opens in new window)

How to change your study habits

Commit in writing

You need to know exactly what it is you want to change (your bad habit) and what you’re going to do instead (a good habit).

  • Write down your bad habit and draw a line through it.
  • Then write down what you’re going to replace it with – your new, good habit.
  • Use large letters and bright colours as this will help you remember it.

 Do this now to show you’re serious!

Make it do-able
  • Don’t set yourself up to fail – you’re not going to change your life overnight.
  • If you want to study more, start with one hour a day, not four or five.
  • If you want to change the way you study, find one technique that seems right for you and start with that.
  • If you want to reduce the time you spend doing other things, such as watching TV, don’t stop altogether. Start by limiting the amount of time you spend in front of the TV and choose one or two programmes a week as rewards for when you’ve finished studying.
Use affirmations
  • Write out positive statements affirming your new, good habit. For example, ‘I’m a good student; I get up every morning at 6:00 to study.’
  • Use things like posters or post-it notes for your affirmations. Use bright colours, large letters and pictures.
  • Put your affirmations in prominent places, such as on the fridge or next to your mirror. As you look at them, clench your fist a number of times, then wherever you are, every time you clench your fist, you’ll be reminded of your affirmations and your new good habits.
Tell someone
  • Tell your family/whānau what you’ve decided to do and ask them to help you and keep you motivated if you feel like quitting.
  • Decide to study with a friend so that you can motivate one another.
Use a trigger

A trigger is something that activates a habit. For example, you decide to get up earlier each morning to study. Your old (bad) habit was to hit the snooze button the minute the alarm went off in the morning. Your new (good) habit is to jump out of bed. Try it every day for 30 days, you’ll find the alarm becomes your trigger for studying not sleeping in.

Remove temptations

It’s often easier to remove temptations than to resist them. For example, if you can’t resist reading your new magazine even though you know you should be studying, don’t buy it. It’s easier to do that than to find the willpower not to read it once you’ve bought it. Then you can use the money you save to reward yourself when you pass!

Say 'Can'

When you think negative thoughts, or start with your old, bad habits, interrupt yourself with ‘I can’. For example, instead of ‘I can’t do this’, say ‘I CAN contact my tutor and find out how to do this’; or ‘I can't go to the movies tonight, my study gets in the way of my life’, say ‘If I work on my assignment tonight, I CAN go to the movies on Saturday’.

You can do anything you set your mind to.

Don't be too hard on yourself

You are human, not super human, and you might not change all your bad habits the first time you try. So if you backslide, don’t beat yourself up or give up; rather resolve to try again.

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