Work less, study more. Sounds like a paradox right? After all we've been taught that the more you study, the more work you get done. So we slave away in front of our textbooks, our computers, and our workbooks desperately trying to cram more and more study into a 24 hour day.
The way you study matters more than how you actually study.
Work vs 'work'
So let's think about it. When you study, do you give your entire undivided attention to your studies or do you instead listen to music on full blast? Stopping every couple of minutes to check Facebook? Sing that awesome chorus in the song? Maybe take an obscenely long amount of time to organise your work?
If this sounds familiar this is because you think you are doing a lot of work by doing lots of small tasks that detract away from making any progress into that assignment.
To work less and study more, you need to flat out work on that part of an assignment, taking breaks when necessary. Himal wrote an excellent article on the Pomodoro technique which I've found works well in giving you blocks to give your undivided attention to your studies.
This way, instead of staying on your desk for 6 hours every night, you may just need to work for 2 hours or even less, but still accomplish the same amount of work. Since you focused on that task, you completed the task in a much shorter amount of time.
Starting is the hardest part
If you're anything like me, then starting is the hardest part. Whether it's getting out of bed, doing the dishes or studying. You just find any excuse to try and do the task later. But when you get down to it, when you actually start, you find that it's not too bad and you have the compulsion to finish the task you wanted to do.
You might start your computer up with the intention to start that essay, but you just wanted to 'quickly' check your subscriptions on YouTube. And before you know it, you've spent hours on YouTube while slowly starting your essay.
Once again, that task which should've taken only 1-2 hours has dragged out to your entire night. When you start straight away, then you'll find that urge to finish or make headway into that assignment due next week.
Should I take breaks?
Breaks by their very definition make you lose concentration in your task, they allow you breathing space and give you a rest from the work you are doing.
Remember, taking breaks is good. The kind of breaks that you take however can result in lost concentration and lost time. Taking a social media break for example, might lead to you thinking how to reply to the person during the time you're meant to be concentrating.
Make sure that your breaks are short so that you are not fully distracted from your work.
Can you work less?
It is actually possible to get more free time than many people. As many of your teachers have probably said, it's not the quantity of study but the quality of study.
• Give your undivided focus and concentration to your task for as long as you can
• Dive straight into your task, starting is often the hardest part
• Take breaks when necessary but make sure they don't derail your focus
And really, who doesn’t want more free time?