I’ve always been a night owl. My concentration is so much better at night and I always get more studying done. I don’t know what it is, but I just can’t seem to concentrate as well during the day; I’m much more easily distracted! So far I’ve managed to get away with my study habits, thanks to late morning classes, but I’m really struggling when it comes to this exam period, especially given how early my exams are. Any advice?
Thanks for bringing up this important study issue – no doubt there are many students in the same boat at this time of year! Right now it sounds like your study and sleep habits need to change so you can be bright and alert for your early morning exams. Like any habit, things only change when you commit to doing something differently and stick to this consistently over time. Early morning exams mean that you will benefit from resetting your body clock, (which can take a few days), so that you feel awake and alert in the morning. This is achieved by going to bed a little earlier each night until you reach an ideal bedtime whilst waking up at the same ideal, set time each morning. Try and keep nighttime for rest; you’ll feel more refreshed, focused and alert during the day. You can find some information about better sleep here.
Consider what it is about night time that makes it easier for you to study. Is it about having fewer distractions – less people and activity going on around you? Is your study environment quieter at night? What changes can you make so the daytime environment is more conducive to study? Can you move somewhere else or ask others to keep the noise/activity down? Have you turned off access to social media, the internet? Alternatively, a study group with peers might help with motivation and focus. Some find it motivating to be around others who are studying – the library or a common study space might be a good option here.
Students often talk about struggling to get things done during the day, but when night time approaches, as they realise time is running out, anxiety motivates them to get things done. If this sounds like you, you could try structuring your daytime study routine by breaking down study into small, achievable tasks. Setting a reasonable time limit for completing each task can help. Recognise your achievements by giving yourself a small reward –take a walk, have a cup of tea/coffee or a snack before returning to work. Be cautious of ‘rewarding’ yourself with the internet or social media– these are notorious time-suckers! You can find some useful information from Academic Skills about time management here.
Remember, whatever strategy you use, persistence and consistency are key! Wishing you a successful exam period and enjoyable semester break.