Life of a Test Taker: Day 33— Burnouts, Venting, and Distractions; How I Study
by John Bunyi
Frustration. That’s what a lot of people feel when they study— especially when they study too much. It’s definitely relative; what’s too much studying for one person can be a light afternoon read for another. We’re all prone to burnouts, we’re only human. It happens when we’re tired of doing something and don’t want to do it anymore. It happens at work, at school, with relationships, and heck even when we hear the same song on the radio over and over again. And most definitely when we study.
You can do plenty of things to prevent a burnout, or if you already are, get over it.
Back to frustration. It’s natural, but something we don’t really have to go through when we study. If you read my last entry, you’d know that I don’t really study at home. There are just too many things going on there. When my family is around I can’t get much work done. Not that I don’t love them, it’s just that when I’m around them, I feel like they distract me whether they mean to or not. So, to get away from the requests to fix the computer or the temptation to sit and watch some SportsCenter with Dad, I like to go to the nearest coffee shop and study there. My place of choice is the Barnes and Noble Café, which is apparently not quite a Starbucks. But I’m also blessed to have a nice hole-in-the-wall nearby called Caffe La Scala (yes, it’s Caffe) that I choose to go to when it’s not too busy. It’s full of Mac-toting academics, ambient noise, and the pleasant smell of coffee; a perfect spot to keep me going. Point is: it’s nice to work outside of the house.
There’s nothing to really distract me where I work as long as I bring the right materials. I think it’s OK to get distracted as long as we moderate it and know that it serves as a break. There’s a lot going on at the café and if you’re one who’s easily distracted then it’ll probably be better to go to a library, but a lot of coffee shop noise is just that; ambient noise. In fact, there’s evidence that having some background noise while we do work can be a good thing . That’s why I love studying with music. Electronic music for absorbing info and doing some intense work, Hip-Hop/R&B for answering questions and writing papers, and some Rock for everything else. Just the other day, I had the most productive study session listening to Avicii. I was bopping my head and even matched the songs’ rhythms to my flipping of the flash cards. I drew enough attention so as to spark a conversation with the person next to me. I guess it’s safe to say that sometimes there are good distractions.
Having other people around me definitely helps. Sometimes it’s good to work in complete silence, like when I’m working on a practice test. Most times however, I’ve found that being in a place where other people are working helps me stay motivated and is just stimulating enough to keep me focused on my work, and not nodding off. Random conversations can at times even lead to new connections. Sometimes, my friend comes along as my study partner. They don’t always need to be studying the same thing that I am. Basically they are there so I can talk with someone when I need a break.
When I get frustrated, I like to vent. In fact, a lot of people practice “venting” to others when there’s something wrong. It helps to get things off my chest, even if the listener can’t always help outright. It just feels good knowing that someone else knows the struggle you’re going through and can help at a moment’s notice. Other times, I like to vent by playing basketball, or some other sport. It definitely helps me forget about the stress of studying and whatever else I’m stressing about.
The biggest thing I’ve learned from this test experience (and from the past) is that it’s ok to “study hard.” But it’s best to study smart. An important part of that is: giving yourself a comfortable amount of time to recharge between your study sessions, and making sure that you’re keeping yourself happy and motivated to study. If you haven’t already figured it out, studying this way adds to how much time you need to dedicate to studying, so you’ll want to stop the procrastination and wasting time. Nothing good can come out of that. Which reminds me, I should probably get back to studying…
Photo credit: John Bunyi
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