Mastering the Art of Productive Study Sessions: 7 Tips to Boost Learning Efficiency

An open Macbook Pro sits on a white wooden desk. On the left is a lamp and some potted plants. On the right are more potted plants and a small shelf, behind the shelf is a lamp designed to look like the moon. In front of the Macbook Pro sits and open book. The entire image is taken at 3/4 profile, such that the desk and it's contents are not facing the camera.

The cover image for this post is by Iewek Gnos

This blog post was written by Jamie.


Early in 2023, I wrote a blog post containing seven of my top tips for studying any matter—whether you’re studying for an exam, or just trying to learn a new piece of tech. Using both the tips from last year and the ones I’m about to share, I was able to read through, comprehend, and retain knowledge from 53 books across 2024.

That’s a massive flex, considering that I’m an auditory learner—this means that I retain more when I hear things rather than reading (i.e. a visual learning) or doing (i.e. kinaesthetic learning)—and the fact that I actually read them rather than listened to them.

As a side note, if you’re interested in the top books from that collection, check out my 2023 Continual Professional Development list.

Either way, 53 books is slightly more than one a week, so how did I do it?

Firstly, I stuck to the tips shared in the previous blog post in this series:

  • Creating a learning space
  • No distractions
  • Setting a schedule
  • Note Taking
  • Hydration
  • Hands-free
  • Sleep, Sleep, Sleep

(read through last year’s blog post for a detailed breakdown of what those points mean)

I also used everything in this blog post to ensure that I fell into the pit of success when studying. So let’s get to it.


Embarking on a journey of continuous learning, whether it’s delving into a new tech marvel, mastering a software library, or unravelling the intricacies of a company process, demands a strategic approach to studying. Building on the fundamentals of creating an optimal learning environment and maintaining focus, here are seven expert tips to revolutionize the way you absorb information. From understanding the art of active listening to embracing diverse learning styles, this comprehensive guide is your go-to resource for making the most out of every study session, regardless of the subject matter.

#1. Listening And Hearing: Engage Your Mind

In the vast landscape of acquiring new knowledge, listening goes beyond the mere act of hearing. Active listening involves a deliberate focus on the content, questioning assumptions, and mentally interacting with the material. Transform your study sessions into dynamic, interactive experiences that foster a true understanding of the subject matter.

Active listening requires more than just hearing words; it demands a conscious effort to comprehend and internalize information. Develop the habit of paraphrasing key points in your own words to reinforce understanding. Utilize tools like mind maps or visual aids to represent complex ideas, making the learning process more engaging and memorable.

#2. Concentration And The Dip: Time Your Breaks

Recognizing the natural rhythm of your concentration levels is essential for optimizing study sessions. The Pomodoro Technique, a time management method developed by Francesco Cirillo, divides work into intervals, traditionally 25 minutes in length, separated by short breaks. This technique aligns perfectly with understanding the natural ebb and flow of your concentration levels.

Implement the Pomodoro Technique by breaking down your study session into focused intervals, typically 25 minutes long. After each interval, take a short break of around 5 minutes. After completing four cycles, take a more extended break of 15-30 minutes. This structured approach helps maintain high levels of focus and prevents burnout.

Understanding your unique concentration limit is crucial for tailoring your study sessions effectively. Experiment with different intervals and observe when your concentration starts to dip. Some individuals may find peak focus within shorter intervals, while others can maintain concentration over more extended periods. Customize your study sessions based on your personal concentration patterns.

#3. Take Plenty Of Breaks: Refresh Your Mind

Incorporating regular breaks into your study routine is not just a luxury; it’s a necessity for optimal learning. Breaks provide an opportunity to refresh your mind, preventing mental fatigue and enhancing overall productivity. Beyond simple breaks, consider engaging in light exercises, stretching, or mindfulness meditation to invigorate both body and mind.

During breaks, incorporate light physical activities such as stretching exercises, yoga, or a short walk. Physical activity stimulates blood flow, delivering oxygen and nutrients to the brain, which can significantly improve cognitive function. Additionally, mindfulness meditation, even for a few minutes, can promote relaxation and mental clarity, setting the stage for focused learning.

Studies have shown that engaging in physical activity after learning can positively impact memory retention. Plan a workout or engage in exercise shortly after a study session to reinforce newly acquired knowledge. This proactive approach not only boosts physical health but also enhances the consolidation of information in your memory.

  1. Avoid Tiredness & Intoxication: Optimal Learning Conditions

Studying under conditions of tiredness or intoxication severely hampers cognitive function and the ability to retain information. Prioritizing optimal learning conditions involves managing your sleep patterns and refraining from studying under the influence of substances.

Quality sleep is non-negotiable when it comes to effective learning. Establish a consistent sleep schedule, aiming for 7-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night. Quality sleep not only enhances concentration and memory but also plays a crucial role in overall cognitive function and emotional well-being.

#5. Healthy Snacks Are Key: Nourish Your Brain

Fuelling your brain with healthy snacks is a dietary strategy that directly impacts cognitive function and overall well-being. When studying a new piece of tech, a software library, or company processes, choosing nutrient-rich options over sugary treats ensures sustained mental energy and consistent concentration.

Incorporate snacks rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals for optimal brain function. Options such as fresh fruits, nuts, seeds, and whole grains provide a steady release of energy without the crash associated with sugary snacks. Consider creating a study snack pack filled with a variety of wholesome options to keep you fuelled throughout your sessions.

Maintaining stable blood sugar levels is crucial for sustained concentration. While sweets and chocolates may provide a temporary energy boost, the subsequent crash negatively affects cognitive function. Opt for snacks with a balanced combination of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats to stabilize blood sugar levels and support prolonged focus.

#6. Different Styles Of Learning: Tailor Your Approach

Recognizing and embracing diverse learning styles is fundamental for tailoring your study techniques to align with your unique preferences. Auditory, visual, and kinaesthetic learning styles each have distinct characteristics, and understanding your dominant style enhances the efficiency of your study sessions.

If you resonate with auditory learning, incorporate techniques such as listening to podcasts, lectures, or educational audiobooks. Engage in discussions and verbalize concepts to reinforce your understanding. Utilize voice recordings or study groups as tools to enhance auditory learning.

Visual learners benefit from techniques such as mind maps, charts, diagrams, and visual aids. Transform written information into visual representations to facilitate easier comprehension. Explore educational videos, infographics, and graphical resources tailored to your subject matter.

For those inclined towards kinaesthetic learning, hands-on activities and practical experiences are key. Experiment with interactive simulations, engage in DIY projects, or apply concepts in real-world scenarios. Incorporate physical movement during study sessions to enhance focus and retention.

#7. Find A Guide: Navigate Your Learning Journey

A knowledgeable teacher provides invaluable guidance, offering structured lessons, clarifying doubts, and providing personalized feedback. Establish a mentorship or seek assistance from experienced individuals who can guide you through complex concepts and offer insights into effective learning strategies.

Study guides serve as roadmaps, systematically outlining the learning path and providing essential resources. Platforms like GitHub host an array of study guides tailored to tech-related subjects. Leverage these guides to gain a comprehensive understanding of the topic, ensuring a well-informed and structured learning journey.

#In Closing

In conclusion, regardless of the subject matter, these seven expert tips form a comprehensive guide to enhance your study sessions. By diving deeper into the details of each tip, you’ll not only optimize your understanding but also make each study session a purposeful and rewarding experience. Unlock your learning potential and elevate your skills with these proven techniques, ensuring that your journey of continuous learning is both efficient and fulfilling.