At a Glance: To be a more effective studier, you might have to give up late nights and constantly checking social media and email.
Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutes, 26 seconds

Could you be studying smarter? You might not even realize it but you could be unintentionally sabotaging yourself with a few bad habits that have crept into your study time. Here are five common bad habits that could be getting in the way of streamlining your studying.


Checking email and social media

Everyone is guilty of this one. You take a quick break to check on an email/scan Facebook/scroll through Instagram, and next thing you know, you’re liking cute pictures of your friends’ kids or watching hilarious cat videos. And poof! Fifteen minutes — or much, much longer — are gone forever. Those are minutes you could have dedicated to your studies. 

Try making a commitment to yourself to stay away from social media during study time. Or create and stick to pre-determined social media breaks. Help avoid the temptation by using website-blocking apps you can find online.


Staying up late

Your body needs sleep to help process things from today and prepare for tomorrow. Plus, the later it gets, the less you’re able to effectively comprehend (and later recall) the information you’re trying to study. Better to call it a night at a reasonable hour and get up a little early to see where you can squeeze in study hours that won’t involve burning the midnight oil.


Not taking breaks

While sticking to your studies until you can’t see straight may seem like the right way to cram it all in, you’re just not as effective as you can be after 45 to 60 minutes. That’s a good time to stop for a 10-minute break. Go for a quick walk. Grab a glass of water or a brain-fueling snack. Meditate. Then dive right back in, reenergized, for the next 45- to 60-minute study block.


Highlighting or underlining

Highlighting may look and feel effective, but it’s a passive tactic that doesn’t allow you to truly connect with what you’re reading. Instead — or in addition to — take notes as you read. Jot down questions in the margins. Concentrate and pause after paragraphs to really let the information sink in. Visualize what you’re reading and think about how it connects to your other studies. Whatever it takes to help you truly absorb what you’re reading, and therefore retain it longer.



Do you put off studying because you really need to put the dishes away but then feel a sudden urge to bake cookies? All worthy endeavors — just not during study time. When you procrastinate, you up the chances of doing schoolwork at the last minute, which can lead to unhealthy behaviors, such as losing sleep, eating poorly and skipping your workout, on top of not actually studying enough. Make a study schedule that spreads your work out reasonably, then stick to it by any means necessary.

We know it’s difficult. But identifying and breaking your habits will help you get the most out of study time, allowing you to get back to other life priorities ASAP.

If you liked this article, try these:

The importance of practicing mindfulness
The virtual student’s guide to keeping it real