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5 Study Tips to Stay Motivated This Semester

Every semester ends with a promise to yourself: get your life sorted before the next semester begins. Most of us spend our breaks decompressing, attempting to process what even happened in the last six anxiety-ridden months. Keep these five points at the back of your mind as you lurch back into studying. Even if they don’t motivate you, they can become a new form of (semi-productive) procrastination.

1. Clean up your study space

Isn’t this so satisfying to look at? source // College Info Geek

If your home desk resembles mine, it’s anything but a scholar’s sanctuary. It’s an ever-growing tower of dirty laundry - a hotbed of disease, within which dwells micro-bacteria probably yet undiscovered. Step one: burn those clothes. Step two: get some inspo - ranging from minimalist to ‘kikki.K struck by a tornado’. Step three: deck it out with stationery until it looks like a piñata’s technicolor spew. Possibly maybe step four: hunt for a seat in the Law Library because your stylish study became a garbage dump. Fun while it lasted.

.2. Scaffolding

How frustrating is it when the tireless hours we devote to readings aren’t reflected in our final results? Usually it’s because we can’t see the “bigger picture”. With so many cases to digest, who can blame us? A ‘scaffold’ is one way of super-summarising notes in the form of flow charts or questions, such that they act as a blueprint or manual of sorts when answering a problem question in an exam. Scaffolds for each topic within a unit of study are usually 30 pages long all together. They can help you understand how topics interconnect and simplify your approach to problem solving.

The only downside is that it’s easy to get caught up perfectly formatting your summary. Word can be a bit fiddly, which brings me to my next suggestion.

3. Use Microsoft Word’s ‘Style Pane’

This may not be as revolutionary for some as it was for me, but the Word 2016 ‘Styles Pane’ makes formatting documents exponentially more efficient. On the ‘Home’ tab to the far right, click ‘Styles Pane’. A box should pop on the right (pictured left). There, you can customise headings, subheadings, titles and highlights before applying them to your document. If you visit the ‘Design’ tab, you’ll see a whole array of colour schemes that’ll help you give each set of notes its own personality.

This feature conveniently allows you to make headings and formatting consistent across your document - perfect for perfectionists. Maybe everyone knew about this, but I didn’t, okay? Let me live.

4. Mind Mapping

Damages in Torts and Contracts be like

Mind mapping is an underrated method of conceptualising a unit of study. Tony Buzan, inventor of the mind map, stated that mind maps “harness the full range of cortical skills — word, image, number, logic, rhythm, colour and spatial awareness”, in effect giving you “the freedom to roam the infinite expanses of your brain”. Not sure if they quite equate to Nirvana. But in all seriousness, mind maps make ideas malleable and help you visualise how topics interconnect. In fact, Survive Law wrote an article about using mind maps in Law School, so they must be pretty useful, huh?

If you’d like to create your mind maps digitally, I recommend the Mindnode app, which has a “sleek, colourful and modern interface” (follow the link for other apps that can ramp up your productivity).

5. Colour!

spongebob forming a rainbow with his hands

source // giphy

What did the last four tips have in common? Colour! Colour your scaffolds and mind maps. Reading black letter law in black and white will probably drive you insane. Besides, colour coding makes you a more efficient thinker.

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