Michael Milone, Ph.D.
Educational Consultant, Research Psychologist, and Writer
Whenever possible, have something on hand to read. It can be a book, a digital device, an assigned newspaper article, whatever. If you find yourself with a little time on your hands, you can use it productively. It will help power through all those reading assignments, especially the shorter ones.The same can be said for writing materials. Having a pen and a small notebook or a digital device around when you have some time will let you nibble away at assignments. You might even write down a great idea that comes into your head.
You will be surprised at how often small but useful chunks of time appear. Sitting on a bus, getting to class a little early, waiting for a dentist’s appointment, or eating a sandwich outside under a tree are perfect opportunities to read. Over the course of a week, these short periods of time can add up to hours.
For some people, these free moments are perfect for listening to music, texting, or yakking. The temptation to waste these moments will be enormous. Nonetheless, if you want to succeed in college, you have to learn how to use every spare minute. If you have a book in your backpack, you will be inclined to read it and will be less likely to waste it.
There is another advantage to short periods of reading or studying. You are more likely to retain the information. Snatching a moment here or there to read constitutes “distributed practice,” which is one of the most effect ways of learning. Each time you return to what you are reading, you refresh what you are learning. It is more likely to stick in your head and be retrievable when you need it.
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