Studying and learning is hard and can be tedious. I get it. I’ve been there- with countless days of having little to no motivation to study. That’s the thing- motivation will hardly sustain you long term to get through to the end. Consistency and discipline is the crucial element of revision and passing exams. I have put together 6 practical study hacks which are backed by research and in congruence with Islamic teachings (revision and knowledge duas tried by yours truly) that will help you incorporate consistency and dispel monotony/boredom in your study routine.
Has there ever been a time when you sat down to study and your self-talk sounded a little something like this, “I need to complete this chapter by tonight but I feel really lazy, demotivated and bored to do so.” Here it’s crucial that you must replace the ‘but’ with ‘so what’ , language, it has an impact. Challenge your thoughts. Say, “I need to complete this chapter by tonight. So what if I’m feeling lazy or demotivated, I can still manage to get it done!” In psychology, this comes under the concept of ‘cognitive restructuring’ which essentially means that one must challenge their maladaptive or irrational thoughts. By using appropriate language, you are, in fact, restructuring your thought process to work for you- not against you.
If you’re studying the same course continuously and then moving onto the next one- you might want to try varying it a little-spice it up. For example: Instead of studying Health Psychology for 6 hours straight- I can do 2 chapters of Health Psychology followed by 3 of Abnormal Psychology followed by 2 of Microeconomics in those 6 hours or whatever your course is made up of. This helps to vitalize your study process and adds a new dare I say fun element to revision. You may now actually look forward to studying- simply by choosing different subjects rather than drowning in the misery of studying the same thing over and over again. Knowing in your mind that things will change up and the end is in sight also helps.
This method works to enhance learning, clarify meaning and establish relationships between complex study material. It basically works like this: you write questions for yourself after going through the material/lecture that you listened to and/or studied. During revision, actively answer those questions- out loud or by writing it down. This process of retrieval requires a higher cognitive effort rather than just passively highlighting, underlining and marking out answers.
Stop looking at the huge, endless wall and just focus on placing the brick, one at a time. This technique has been a game changer for me. If you can plan and manage to break down your mountain of syllabus into smaller, do-able portions of study- you’ve mastered the key to beat procrastination. So break down your study into smaller tasks and start ticking them off once completed, literally chapter by chapter.
Choosing the easier chapters are also a great way to help you build momentum, in no time-you will have completed the mountain of syllabus- and the revision process will be easier.
I’ve often procrastinated or lost motivation to study when I set unrealistically high study goals like just recently I set out with an ambitious task of completing 30 chapters in 5 days. I didn’t realize how dangerous this goal was. Not only was my goal a little unreasonable because I had not taken into account other activities along with studying time, but it also increased my stress and anxiety. I felt like a complete failure for not reaching my self-made goal so it was detrimental. So essentially the moral of the story for me was
Choosing easier tasks gave me a feeling of great achievement once I managed to complete them and propelled me into studying more and more. In time, I reached my ambitious study goals- simply by lowering my expectations and being realistic with my plans.
Learning, (knowledge) are extremely valued activities in the Islamic tradition, it’s advised that we seek beneficial knowledge. The prayers below are from the Qur’an and the Prophetic tradition that can ease your mind of worry and stress and make the studying process easier.
Rabbi Yissir Wa La Tu’Assr- (My Lord, Make it easy. Please don’t make it difficult.)
Rabbi Zidni Ilma (Qur’an 20:119)- (My Lord, increase me in my knowledge.)
Allahumma laa sahla ‘illaa maa ja’altahu sahlan wa’Anta taj’alul-hazna ‘ithaa shit’ta sahlan (O God, there is no ease other than what You make easy. If you please You ease sorrow/difficulty.)
Lastly, just remember that it’s okay to not see results immediately. Sometimes I get so caught up in the study material and wonder how much progress I am making, and if any at all. I may think, “I put in ‘x’ amount of effort so the result better be ‘y’ amount.” Studying for long periods is exhausting and can be demotivating if you don’t see tangible gains in the form of good grades and/or encouragement/feedback from your teachers. But it is crucial to remember that your success for something depends on your preparation and effort for it.
God says, “And that his effort is going to be seen” (Qur’an 53:40)
So put in the effort and do not be disheartened if you do not see results immediately as having patience with your self is much of the journey too. God will judge you by your sincere efforts, even if from a worldly perspective you may be struggling. So keep studying, keep going. Keep fighting the good fight and success will be with you Insha Allah.
Humaira Kapadia is from Mumbai, India . She has an Associate degree in Islamic psychology and a Masters in Economics. She enjoy writing book reviews and topics pertaining to faith and spirituality on her Medium blog: @humairakapadia IG: @humairawithabook
By Ashiya Mendheria