Tech hacks to make studying more effective

These simple techniques can help anyone who’s studying to stay focused, motivated and on track.

September is just around the corner, which means back-to-school season is almost upon us – a time of fresh starts, new schedules and a chance to check out everyone’s summer haircuts in person. And if you’re a student, you’ll know that while tech can be extremely helpful, smartphones and tablets can also be a distraction from school and university work. Use your tech in the right way, though, and it can really help you keep on top of your studies.

Discover some simple ways that tech can boost your learning experience this term – and beyond.

child at a table writing

Stay focused

Concentrating on your studies can be tough when your smartphone offers a world of entertaining distractions at your fingertips. One simple but effective change is to put your phone on "Do Not Disturb" mode or turn off notifications within messaging apps while you’re working. If your phone isn’t lighting up with messages from mates, you’ll be less tempted to pick it up. You can also block certain apps or features on your phone during specific points in the day (handy if you’re addicted to one game or social media platform in particular). If you have an iPhone, go to Settings > Screen Time. For Android users, it’s Settings > Digital Wellbeing.

person holding a phone up

Use your own voice

Sometimes, one of the trickiest things about writing an essay or report is getting your ideas from your brain to the page. Next time you’re dealing with that frustration, try turning to your phone’s built-in voice recorder app. Talk through the points you want to make as though you’re explaining them to a friend. Then listen back to your voice memo and take notes, either on paper or on your laptop or tablet. You’ll be amazed at how much this can help organise your thoughts. And if you’re an audio learner, why not record voice memos based on your revision notes? Listen to them while you’re out and about, as if you’re the host of your own educational podcast. Those facts will stick in your head before you know it.

timer on a phone screen

Practise the pomodoro technique

This popular time management method is named after a tomato-shaped cooking timer (pomodoro means tomato in Italian). But thanks to the timer built into your phone’s clock app, you don’t need a plastic tomato to practise it. When you need to work or study, you set a timer for 25 minutes. During that time, you’re only allowed to work. No scrolling social media, no getting a snack from the fridge, nothing. When the timer goes off, you get a five-minute break (also timed), and then you repeat it – so another 25 minutes of studying and another five-minute break. Once you’ve done four consecutive 25-minute stints, you get a 30-minute break. The idea is that by breaking work down into short, manageable blocks, you’ll become more productive and focused.

person using a tablet

Make the most of your tablet

Tablets can be a real asset to studying, especially if you’re a visual, tactile or interactive learner. Some models come with a pen or stylus, allowing you to sketch, scribble notes or highlight sections of text while you work. Plus, when you feel like you’ve been cooped up in the library or your bedroom for too long, a tablet makes it easy for you to work elsewhere. Download the worksheets, reports or textbooks you need and take your tablet to a park, café or bubble tea shop. Sometimes, a change of scene is all that’s needed to spark ideas and provide a much-needed boost of energy.

Published: 17 Aug 2023