Powering Your Next Study Session with Music

Studying is an unfortunate consequence of school—good study habits are key to achieving consistent, satisfying grades. Fortunately, studying is a well-researched topic, and although optimal studying methods might change from person to person, there are a general guidelines on how to best prepare for exams and tests.

Time management

Not waiting until the night before to study for an exam and creating study intervals is key to getting the most out of study sessions. The Pomodoro Technique is a method often used to break up studying periods into smaller, more manageable intervals. It’s goal is to “[maximize] focus and creative freshness”, speeding up the studying process without overworking the user.

Some people live by the strategy, others are less convinced; many people simply utilize the concept of working in short intervals and taking a break without using the Pomodoro Technique directly. It is highly recommended to study in intervals and not all at once, but again, studying is not an exact science - try a variety of strategies to see what works best for you

Avoid distractions

Distractions are everywhere—many students struggle with staying off social media and entertainment sites while trying to complete their work. Thankfully, there are apps that can help you avoid the habit. StayFocusd and SelfControl, are two free tools to help you limit internet browsing abilities - simply provide the websites you want to block, how long you want the ban to last, and you’re done.  

Another way to avoid distraction is by finding a study location that’ll be most beneficial to your study habits. Dorm rooms are sites notoriously rife with distraction: from roommates enticing your appetite with delicious snacks to videogame platforms laying in wait to tear you away from your work. Try studying in a library, or search around your campus for hidden gems that will help you finish your work without distraction.

Use Music To Increase Focus

Music can be a good way to both lower distraction as well as increase focus. Music with a low tempo and little-to-no lyrics is often recommended to improve one’s attitude to studying and improve memory, but finding the right music is a crucial step to avoid actually adding to your distraction.

Fortunately, there's Sync Music Bot for Slack, an excellent way for Spotify users to find music suggestions to help them study. Should you want to work, relax, or exercise, Sync Music Bot can tailor an individual playlist for the task on hand. If you're not sure what artists or genres to listen to, Sync Music Bot will comb through millions of songs to find the best ambient, electronic, or classical playlists to study to. It's made to work with Slack, a popular team-collaboration tool increasingly used by both professionals and students who have to keep track of lots of information to get their work done.

You can also provide your own genre, or suggest artists, that would like to work to. Sync Music Bot might recommend using different artists if your suggestion doesn’t meet it’s criteria for music to work to. For example, you may receive a warning if your choose “Work to DJ Khaled”, as songs by this artist are frequently energetic sounding or contains lyrics. Nonetheless, you still have the option to ask it make a playlist using that artist and see if it works for you after all. When you’re done, you can provide feedback and rate the playlist based on how well you felt the song selection met your needs which will improve future playlist suggestions.
Just like music taste, beneficial studying techniques are subjective - there’s no right or wrong answer, it comes down to personal preference. The article references many techniques that may not all work for you - sure, you can always find someone who does well cramming the night before, or can study just fine lying in bed - but the above strategies are just a few methods you can try that could help increase productivity and information retention when studying.

Written by Andrew Zannetos and Alex de Raadt