The winter holidays bring tons of family time and good food, but it also means exams are on the horizon! Call me a nerd, but I really enjoy long study days where I can just sit with material and finally put all the pieces together. Over the years, I've come up with a check-list of things to have in my bag for a productive study day. Here they are listed below. I've also included a more concise list at the bottom to screenshot and save as a reference. (Related: I don't print anything anymore. I screenshot all good reference material and save it to evernote for easy recall on my phone, tablet, or laptop.) Let me know in the comments or contact section what other things you're stressing about this month, and someone on the Love & the Sky team will get you answers!
1. Laptop: You should bring your computer with you no matter where you're studying. When I study at the library, I prefer to use the larger desktop screens, but sometimes those are all taken (especially this time of year). Also, there have been occasions where I thought I saved something to my dropbox account, but I closed my computer before it had time to upload. Bringing your laptop with you will prevent you from getting all cozy in your study space only to realize you don't have your study materials.
2. Cell phone: because you will be distracted without it.
3. Tech accessories: laptop and phone charger, noise cancelling headphones charger
4. Whatever books you may or may not need. This is the same with the laptop. It's best to have all resources with you just in case. For larger books (that you own), you can have them unbound and split into smaller chapters in multiple bindersat FedEx/Kinkos or UPS.
6. Highlighters: I do highlight reading text, even though studies show that it doesn't have much benefit - but what's more useful for me is to highlight portions of my own notes for quick reference and aesthetics. I'm a partial visual learner and partial kinesthetic learner, so taking the time to differentiating text helps me to remember it better. I bought these highlighters years ago and I'm still using them on the wards. They don't dry out.
7. Noise cancelling headphones: This is a must for me when studying at public places and sometimes even in my apartment. My roommate in medical school was one of the loudest people I've ever met. Noise cancelling headphones kept me from wasting my time with many arguments. People type loud, eat loud food, "whisper" to each other all afternoon. By far, one of the best investments I made into my productivity.
8. Paper to take notes on: If you're a minimalist, you can just take use a few sheets of paper from the library printer. Again, I'm a visual person, so I preferred neon or pastel printer paper. A lot of my classmates like these Moleskin notebooks and I eventually started to use them for step studying. Another one of my classmates swore by these Muji notebooks. With study materials, I think it's worth the few extra cents to find a product that brings you joy and that makes you take pride in your work.
9. Quiet snacks: My pet-peeve is the sound of other people chewing, so I may care about this topic a little more than other people. I really hate when someone interrupts the quiet of the library to eat an apple. Noise cancelling headphones solves this problem for me, but I always try to bring quiet snacks to nibble on during study time - nuts, cheese, dried fruit, meats, yogurt, and whole wheat bread are all good options. Forgetting to bring snacks will absolutely break a study day for me. You have to feed your brain! A long study day is an intense work-up for your brain. I do prefer to take a complete break from studying to enjoy meals. Study breaks are important.
10. A plan for caffeine: On the weekends, there is only one coffee shop open on Emory's campus and it's in the undergrad library. On weekends, I studied at home, at a coffee shop, or at the undergraduate library. If you're one of those freaks who doesn't need caffeine, more power to you. I need my coffee every 3-4 hours and I have no shame.
11. Water bottle: your brain needs water. It is a pain to constantly have to go to the restroom when you're studying in a public space because you have to pack all your stuff up. This is where studying with a partner has its perks.
12. A jacket: libraries and coffee shops are notoriously frigid.
13. Glasses (if applicable): Even if you are wearing your contacts, take your glasses. Starring at a screen for hours will cause your contacts to dry out. In general, I don't wear contacts to study unless I'm going directly to a social event afterwards. These days glasses are so trendy, there's really no need to wear contacts to study. I got a great pair from Warby Parker recently.
Concise study packing list:
- Noise cancelling headphones
- Paper to take notes on
- Snacks! (preferably non-crunchy)
- A plan for caffeine
- Water bottle
Did I forget anything? Comment below!