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How to Hack Your Studies with Habit Tracking

Article written by Student Edge

This will change the way you study.

With the amount of content you’ve gotta learn at school, it’s no wonder studying can feel like a slog.

But did you know it’s possible to transform study into a habit of second nature?

We chatted with Dr. Gina Cleo, a habit scientist, for all the deets. She explained that “a habit is essentially anything you do, that you do subconsciously.

“That could be things like brushing your teeth in the morning or putting on your seatbelt when you sit in the car.”

She gave us a bunch of super helpful tips for picking up new habits. Plus, we designed a free study tracker just for you—and there’s nothing like it on the internet, so stay tuned til’ the end of the article. Ya welcome!

There’s a lot of myths about how long it takes to form a habit. What’s the truth?

The most common misconception about habits is how long they take to stick. The estimates usually sit between 21 to 28 days.

But Dr Gina Cleo says that’s not the case at all. It takes anywhere between 18 days to 254 days to change a habit with the average time being roughly 66 days (two months?).

We know what you’re thinking—that’s a pretty hefty range. Dr Cleo says it all depends on the complexity of the habit, and how habitual you are by nature.

For example: routinely drinking a glass of water in the morning is a simpler habit to pick up than doing 10 pushups in the morning, which requires intention and timing.

There are three key ingredients to form a habit.

So what does it take to make a habit out of something? According to Dr Cleo, the three key elements are: cue, routine, and reward.

Say you get into the car and put your seatbelt on without thinking about it.

Sitting in the car is the cue here because it triggers the habit.

Putting on the seatbelt is the habit itself, otherwise known as the routine.

The reward is the benefit you get from doing that habit. In this case, that’s knowing you’ll be safe.

“When you're forming new habits, you really wanna create a trigger and you'll say, okay, I'm gonna do this every time that I encounter this trigger,” Dr Cleo says.

Pro-tip: Start small.

One of the main ways you can get in your own way with forming a healthy habit is by setting goals that are too big right away.

Dr Cleo says starting small and scaling up when the habit becomes automatic is a good plan.

“When we try to set goals that are too big, our brains literally feel like they're overwhelmed, and what happens when we're overwhelmed? We tend to do nothing,” she says.

She recommends thinking of the goal you’re wanting to achieve, then breaking it down into “bite-sized pieces so small, you feel like you can't say no to it. It's like, oh yeah, that's easy enough for me to do today.”

You can make studying second nature through habit formation.

Do you struggle to strike up a good balance and relationship with studying? You’re not alone.

Habit formation and tracking is a great hack to get around it. Here are Dr Cleo’s tips:

You can use our free printable study tracker to get started.

It’s your lucky day—we’ve designed a free template for you to get started with your study habit tracking!

Study Habit Tracker

Inspired by Dr Cleo’s insights, this tracker is uniquely based on the idea of repeating habits and visualising your progress. She told us “habit trackers are one of my favourite things ever, because they help you to see how well you’re doing.”

You can watch our TikTok on how it works, or keep reading below!

The tracker forms a grid. The top row of days represents the day you are currently revising on.

The column of days on the left-hand side represents the content you learnt on that day of the week. For example, Monday represents “content learnt on Monday”.

If the current day is a Tuesday, you would begin by looking at the Tuesday on the top row. Then, you would revise the content learnt on Monday of that week (the left-hand column) and tick it off in the corresponding bubble. You would also revise the content learnt on Tuesday as well.

Scribbling in the bubbles acts like a reward for your progress. Dr Cleo told us, “When you give yourself a tick for doing that habit […] it forms a positive feedback loop in our brain and our brain goes, oh, that felt really good when I did that. So I’m gonna do that again.”

Check it out below.


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