Estimated reading time: 6 minutes
Your brain takes on a different pattern when you go on a break. When that break is long enough, all your thoughts will be on video games, movies, happy hours and social media.
How do you disconnect from this programming and get back into study mode? When you have exams approaching fast after a long break, use these tricks to speed up learning.
Refuel on enthusiasm
You have academic and professional goals. You have personal fulfillment and self-actualization goals as well, and all of these objectives at one point meant so much to you.
Get back your enthusiasm, because a bored and unmotivated mind cannot learn anything.
It would be ideal to write down your goals and frame them on the wall, on the fridge or by your bedside. Think about the prestige and feelings of personal accomplishment that is waiting on the side for you to claim.
Think about that improved salary from your career advancement after gaining qualification. These motivators should enhance your brain’s wiring for academic achievement.
Focus and remain positive
You were a kick-ass time manager before you went on holiday or sick leave, and you can still be that person even now. You just have to remind yourself about what is essential and direct your focus on it.
Fuel your drive and sustain focus by going back to your critical motivations, as discussed above.
But ease into it slowly and realistically. You might not be able to do 3 hours of study in a single day as before, but accomplishing one-third of that for a start should be something to be proud of.
Motivate yourself and keep pushing the limits.
Maintaining a positive outlook is what it takes to overcome mental fatigue.
Get back into the state
Before the break, your efficiency in learning, memory, and reasoning was at peak performance.
Now the main goal should be about getting back to that state as you focus attention on practical skills-acquisition and exam preparedness.
Aim to reach the level you were before. The rest will come after that.
There are specific techniques that you can employ to give yourself a mental boost and reach that peak state as before. You know them better. Start doing whatever you were doing before.
It could be a daily workout routine that improves your concentration levels when you sit down to study. It could be a healthy diet that focuses on healthy fats and seafood. Explore all options.
Test your performance
Two weeks after your break, carry out a self-evaluation exercise to find out how you are doing. Use practice tests and mock exams, many of which are available online.
Ensure to answer these questions like you would in an actual test setting; timed and without distractions or cheating.
Use your scores to analyze your memory, efficiency and analytical thinking abilities. Compare your current score to one from a previous test you took before you went on the break.
If they are in the same range, you have a reason to smile and maintain the pace with gradual improvements as time goes on.
Consistency is the ultimate goal
Human beings are habitual creatures. That’s why you have a vacation “mode” and a partying “mode”. Whatever your mind learns to do over a particular time period, it does it well and very exclusively.
It can take a little more time to unlearn and replace a habit. In this case, consistency is the only way you can successfully re-program your mind for excitement and efficiency.
So, if the self-test score comes back awfully lower than your past performance, don’t give up.
Keep at your routine, and soon you’ll not want anything other than to stay focused on your books and academic goals.
To leverage the habitual part of your brain for improved academic performance, experts recommend studying at the same time every day.
Whatever you do- just be focused and be consistent.
Increase energy and reduce anxiety
Your brain is the largest energy consumer in the body, and therefore you need to get it powered the right way.
Start your day right with a healthy meal and eat a consistently balanced diet throughout the day.
Skipping lunch appears like it saves your time, but it does nothing to help your performance levels. So create the time to sit down and enjoy your food.
Eliminate anxiety. When you are anxious, the energy in your body gets spared for fighting or fleeing, and so your mental processes go into sleep mode. You cannot accomplish much learning in such a state.
So, alongside your routines, adopt calming habits such as getting enough sleep, meditation, yoga and the like.
Implement techniques that excite your mind
You can optimize your zest for learning with new technologies that reflect your passion and proclivities.
An artistic person, for instance, could make their time enjoyable by using color markers and frequently highlighting meaningful chunks of text.
The technique not only enhances their memory but also stimulates their mind by exciting their artistic side.
This could also be time to try an audio-book, a technique that could help you learn despite your fatigued mind.
The use of visuals, including charts, graphs, and online videos are also handy techniques worth exploring.
Aim for balance
The switch over to your study routines should be a tiered process that doesn’t cause any part of your life to suffer.
Create a routine that attains equilibrium between your academic responsibilities and your social life and work.
As much as you want to karate kick your way back into that old state, relaxation, family time and work are also critical.
So, take regular breaks. It’s good for your brain and allows you to come back with renewed vim and vigor. Don’t saturate your brain.
Lock yourself in
After a long period of being cooped up indoors, you really shouldn’t have a problem locking yourself in and focusing for two or more hours.
At this point, you want to be getting better and smarter before the test date comes and being in a place with many distractions doesn’t help. Isolate yourself for a few hours and see how intellectually rewarding it can be.
But please…Don’t study on your bed, for you’ll only end up sleeping in 15 minutes. Don’t go near the TV for you’ll want to catch up with the news just a “few minutes” into your session.
Turn off your mobile phone as your friends will be busy tweeting, tagging and texting you to like, comment or to take a break.
- Stick to your routine
- Keep your space clutter-free
- Prioritize as the examination approaches
- Be self-aware and call out your shortcomings
- Track your achievements with regular self-assessment
- Create back-up plans
- Always remember the bigger picture
Get some company
Get back with your group (even virtually) to overcome your challenges after the long break. Your friends may remind you of your objectives and keep you motivated until you become efficient again.
These ‘energy donors’ or motivators will help raise your spirits when you think all is lost.
And there is no better way to jog your memory than by doing it with a friend. When you get back to studying after a long break, you’ll want to ensure that you remember what you learned before the break.
A trivia-like session with your buddies may be what it takes to wake up your mind.
You are not alone. Everybody feels the same way about school and classwork after a long break. Finding a friend to walk with as you navigate back to supervised learning can be a great start.
You don’t always have to do it alone.
Call for help when you need it
Have a lecturer or course expert on your speed dial. That’s a characteristic that sets apart successful students from the rest. So now, make use of these contacts at this time.
Ask questions, ask for assistance on complex concepts and let them help you break it down.
Right now your mind may not be working at its peak so don’t do the heavy intellectual lifting by yourself, get some help.
Be ready at dawn
At this time, you are relaxed and so ‘mentally uncluttered.’
Science says that you can remember the majority of things you do in the morning because the alpha waves boost memory.
But there is another benefit to waking up early in the morning. When you learn to respect that alarm clock, it gradually becomes easier to be a good time manager throughout the day.
And the energies of your morning might also spill over to the rest of your day.
Set small achievable short-term goals. They could be daily or weekly in nature. And after achieving them- give yourself a reward.
Call up your friends and go for that happy hour or go viral on social media with your cat, whatever gets you excited.
Treats like these potentially bribe your brain to work harder for even more rewards. Just ensure to have the discipline to know where and how to limit yourself.
And be sure to get back into focus for more such achievements.
Bust through boredom by taking notes
Boredom is what primarily kills your mind’s learning ability after a long break. But there is an easy way to bust that uninspired feeling and become effective at exam preparation.
Participation is how you are going to do it. Make your study sessions participatory by writing notes and making summaries that are easy to digest.
Involving both your brain and body in the learning process makes it less boring and boosts understanding and memory.
You can be that effective a learner again. You can have it just like before you went on the break. Simply remind yourself of your goals, stay positive and implement new and exciting techniques.
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