Effective Study Habits for Independent Work

Taking a study break to color!

April has finally arrived, which means that the deadlines for theses and junior papers are quickly approaching (cue the dramatic music)! While teachers and advisers may be reminding you to pace yourselves and to still find time to relax, this post is for those who are grinding through their work and may even be (dare I say it) binge writing. Whether you fall into this category or not, brushing up on some effective work habits can be helpful in all parts of academic life. With that said, here are a few strategies that I have found make my writing sessions as efficient as possible:

Working in 90-minute Intervals

While it may seem like a good idea to try and work 5 hours straight, studies have shown that your mind can only function at its maximum potential for short increments of time. As a result, setting up 1.5 hour study periods can allow you to stay productive as well as have small breaks in between. If you find sticking to the clock to be particularly hard, setting a timer can also help keep you on track.

Active Study Breaks

When it does come time to step away from your work, research says that doing an activity that gets your blood flowing can be good for you physically and mentally. Whether you take a walk or even stretch for a minute or two, you’ll feel more refreshed when you head back to work.

Healthy Eating

Yes, it is true that mindlessly eating junk food will slow you down and make you feel groggy. However, snacking on healthy food (i.e. fresh fruit, yogurt, nuts) and staying hydrated has been proven to keep people energized and more focused during their work sessions. Plus, a little dark chocolate here and there can also have its benefits!

Meditation / Creative Outlet

If you find your thoughts getting jumbled together or your mind wandering off in different directions, perhaps it’s a sign that you need to clear your head for a moment. Taking 3-5 minutes to meditate and to do some breathing exercises can both relieve tension and prepare you to refocus on the work ahead. If sitting still for that long makes you antsy, taking a few minutes to draw or color can also be just as therapeutic.

These are only a handful of ways to stay efficient while doing work and finding what’s best for you will help get you through this final push. For more suggestions on how to stay productive, you can visit the McGraw center website or even come up with a plan with a group of friends. However you determine what method to use, know that the finish line is in sight. We’re almost there!


— Taylor Griffith, Social Sciences Correspondent