Are you ready to get rid of your bad study habits permanently?
Maybe you’ve picked up a few ineffective study habits over the years.
Maybe you’re tired of feeling stressed out and overwhelmed — like no matter how hard you study, you’re always behind.
Well, I’ve got good news for you…
With the right strategies and mindset, you can achieve academic success.
Once you eliminate the 8 bad study habits discussed in this article, you’ll become a better student. You’ll also be more prepared for life after school.
So let’s explore this list of bad habits for students — and my tips for what to do instead — so you can start getting better grades today.
Bad habit #1: Procrastinating until the last minute
Do you wait until the night before an exam to crack open your textbook and review your notes?
Do you struggle to begin homework assignments, even when your stress levels are rising and the deadlines are fast approaching?
If so, you’re not alone. According to the American Psychological Association, 80 to 95% of college students and 86% of high school students struggle with procrastination!
But just because procrastination is a common problem, that clearly doesn’t make it an effective study habit.
Cramming doesn’t work. So if you want to do well in school, you need to study smarter.
You need to get the basics right and do things like:
- Plan out your day and week in advance.
- Set aside regular blocks of time for homework and study sessions.
- Periodically review the material covered in class.
(If you still feel too overwhelmed to get to work, learn how to motivate yourself to study with these 23 tips.)
Bad habit #2: Studying in front of the TV or with digital devices next to you
After an exhausting day at school, you still have a long list of homework assignments to complete.
You’re tired of sitting at a desk, so you cosy up on the sofa with your textbook and homework. It’s too quiet, so you turn on the TV.
What’s the problem with this?
Soon you have one eye on your homework and the other on the TV.
To avoid poor study habits, it’s vital that you remove as many distractions as possible. That includes your smartphone and tablet, too.
I recommend setting up a dedicated study space where you can control the environment for optimal study sessions.
Leave your digital devices in a different room so you’re not tempted to use them. By doing this, you’ll learn how to focus when studying and have more time to enjoy your favourite shows later.
Pro tip: Any place you associate with relaxation — like your bed — isn’t an optimal place to study. So make a commitment today not to do any work while lying in bed!
Bad habit #3: Memorising your notes without fully understanding the material
Memorising your notes might help you ace a test in the short term, especially if it’s an easy test.
But rote memorisation won’t help you retain information for the long term.
So focus on understanding all the new material that’s covered in class. Process and summarise what your teacher says by jotting down notes that make sense to you.
You’ll retain information more effectively and set yourself up for success when you learn how to take notes properly.
Put any new information into context by connecting it to your existing knowledge.
And if you just can’t understand certain concepts or equations, ask your teacher for help. Do this as soon as possible so you can clarify your doubts way before the next test or exam.
Bad habit #4: Being disorganised
No list of bad study habits for students would be complete without mentioning a lack of organisation.
I know it’s hard to stay organised as a busy student. But being disorganised leads to forgotten exam dates, missed assignments, and plenty of stress.
So take 5 to 10 minutes each day to put things in order. Do things like:
- File your class notes and material.
- Write down the tasks you need to complete for the day.
- Check your calendar or planner to see what events and deadlines are coming up.
- Clear your desk.
- Throw away or recycle old papers or brochures that you no longer need.
It doesn’t take much time to create a calm, organised environment so that you can achieve your academic goals and be successful in school.
Bad habit #5: Not asking for help when you need it
Like we talked about briefly earlier, if you have a question about a concept or an assignment, don’t hesitate to ask your teacher for guidance.
Everyone has questions — it’s just that straight-A students ask for help when they need it.
Regularly review your notes and flag any questions you might have by highlighting the relevant section or by using sticky notes.
Find an opportunity to speak with your teacher (or a knowledgeable classmate) to get these questions answered.
If you do this consistently, you’ll keep up with the material and avoid feeling stressed the night before the exam.
Bad habit #6: Multitasking
What looks like multitasking is really switching back and forth between multiple tasks, which reduces productivity and increases mistakes by up to 50%.
– Susan Cain
We’ve all been there before…
A few minutes into a study session, you remember that you need to reply to a text about a group project. So you unlock your phone and send that text.
Then you read another page of your textbook, and a line in the chapter reminds you of a video you’ve been meaning to watch. The video is only a few minutes long, so you decide to watch it right away.
Now you’re back to studying. But wait — do you have a math test next week? You’d better check on that now before you forget.
You then realise that you’ve been “studying” for an hour, but you’ve hardly made any progress!
Here’s the thing…
Multitasking doesn’t work. It makes you less productive and more distracted because you’re just switching between tasks.
Instead of switching between assignments or trying to do multiple tasks at once, focus on one thing at a time.
If a distracting thought pops into your head, jot it down on a notepad. You can return to this list at the end of your study session.
Bad habit #7: Neglecting your physical health
Exercising, eating well, and getting enough sleep are essential habits that will impact your health and well-being.
You might think that you’re too busy to take care of your physical health.
But if you take care of your physical health, the science shows that you’ll actually be more focused and productive!
It is possible to become a top student while leading a healthy, well-balanced life. You can start with these simple tips:
- Do some form of exercise every day, even if it’s just a brisk 10-minute walk.
- Keep a water bottle and healthy snacks on or close to your desk.
- Stick to a bedtime routine that helps you to wind down.
- Wake up and go to sleep at around the same time each day.
- Do deep breathing exercises to help you manage stress.
Bad habit #8: Always studying alone
Sometimes you need to study alone to maximise your focus and understand new material.
Other times, you might find it helpful to study with a small group of motivated students. Studying in a group is a fun way to keep yourself accountable and eliminate bad study habits.
When I was in university, I remember taking a class where the homework assignments were extremely tedious and challenging. By doing the assignments at the same time as my study groupmates, I felt far more motivated to complete the work.
Another advantage to studying in a group is that you can support one another when you have questions.
You can get the answers you need while helping your groupmates to do the same.
Pro tip: Keep the size of your study group to 3 or 4 students to minimise distractions.
If you eliminate these 8 bad study habits, you’ll be on your way to becoming an effective student.
But I know that students often need some extra support.
That’s why I’ve created The Perfect Study Plan online course. It’s a proven, easy-to-follow course that will enable you to stop procrastinating and to start acing every exam you take.
Learn more about the study skills and exam preparation course here and discover the step-by-step system you need to become a top student who leads a balanced life too!