What is the secret of studying

The amazingly simple secret of highly productive students

by Tim Reichel

In every course there are a few students who get significantly more in line than the rest. They work faster, can memorize more and glide through the course almost effortlessly - without investing significantly more time.

While you are still busy printing out the lecture notes correctly, you have already summarized the first 50 pages and memorized them.

But that's no reason to be downcast or jealous of these apparent high-flyers. You don't lack talent or intelligence; you just need the right technique. And it is precisely this technique - or rather: the secret of highly productive students who relax and stroll from one top grade to the next - we're going to take a look at now.

Then I'll show you how you can easily transfer this approach to your studies.

Here we go.


Read the DOEDL method for free!


What highly productive students do differently

Success in college doesn't have much to do with intelligence. It depends more on the right way of working and the attitude to study. Of course, it is an advantage if you have certain cognitive skills, but your strategy is crucial.

And some of your fellow students have developed an efficient success strategy while studying, which is very simple in itself, but can still make the difference. Her secret is:

Do not deal with too many things at the same time, but always concentrate on only one specific task!

Productive students work in a focused manner. They do not allow themselves to be distracted and pay full attention to the here and now. You are not concerned with 10 things at the same time, but tackle one measure at a time. This simple basic rule is a true productivity booster and ensures that you get through your studies faster and more successfully.

But why is it like that?


One step at a time

Many modern courses of study are so overloaded with modules that you are constantly overwhelmed in terms of time and work technology and are regularly brought to your limits.

During the lecture period, one university event follows the next, you struggle through scripts and books or meet up with your study group. You may also have a student job and have to look after your apartment. If you then have to write a thesis or have other obligations, there is even less free time left.

After the lectures it doesn't get any better, because now the exams are coming. For you this means: exam preparation, learning to the limit and a lot of exam stress. So that this avalanche of work does not overwhelm you, you must not lose track and have to study strategically.

Firstly, you can't do everything and, secondly, there's no point opening too many construction sites at the same time. You have to proceed step by step and slowly but steadily approach your goal - without losing your bearings.

Successful students therefore almost never practice multitasking, but always focus on one thing. This will keep them focused and do their jobs faster than average.

So the key to success is: Single tasking


Benefits of single-tasking

With single-tasking you bundle your strength and concentration on a single task. You ignore distractions and trivialities - only your current task is in focus.

These are the 5 most important advantages of single-tasking:

  • You will get a better quality result because you focus your full attention on a single task.
  • You can fully engage in your challenge and will not be distracted by secondary construction sites.
  • You'll finish faster because you don't have to worry about multiple things at the same time.
  • You can work more systematically because structuring a single task is easy and your individual steps continuously build on one another.
  • You don't overwhelm yourself and don't have the feeling of chasing after many open tasks - and that lowers your stress level.

Singletasking makes your studies easier and ensures that you progress faster and more relaxed. Since I said goodbye to multitasking, my way of working has become significantly more productive and efficient.


Cons of multitasking

The concept of multitasking is a bold lie. It makes us inefficient and ineffective. In addition, multitasking makes us dissatisfied because we have the feeling that we cannot really do anything.

Here are the top 5 disadvantages of multitasking:

  • You lower the quality of your results because you are not fully involved in the individual tasks.
  • Doing a lot of different things at the same time distracts you and wastes time.
  • You make careless mistakes and mix up your activities, resulting in an unproductive way of working.
  • You are building up a lot of pressure because you are dealing with many open tasks at the same time.
  • You get stressed and dissatisfied faster because you don't notice your small successes and more and more tasks are pouring down on you.

Multitasking won't get you anywhere; the opposite is the case: multitasking throws you back and blocks you - physically and mentally. Singletasking works much better.

And now I'll show you how you can really get started with your studies.


Your jump start for productive studying

Singletasking is very easy to implement and will significantly improve the way you work. Nevertheless, I would like to give you a few tips that will make getting started as easy as possible.

You can do this:

Step 1: Choose a task

Step 2: Set a goal

Step 3: Define all the individual steps on this path

Step 4: Define all intermediate steps

Step 5: Work your way through step by step

It is worth investing a few minutes in your planning and writing down your goals and steps. Then you can get started in a structured manner without losing the overview.

I have two more examples for you:


Example 1: Exam preparation

Step 1: Your job is to prepare for the next exam.

Step 2: You want to pass your exam with at least a 2.0.

Step 3: Your steps on this path are:

1) Summarize the lecture

2) Learn summary

3) Repeat the exercises

4) Edit old exams

Step 4: The intermediate steps would be for example at 1):

1a) summarize chapter 1.1

1b) summarize chapter 1.2

1c) summarize chapter 1.3

1d) summarize chapter 2.1

1e) summarize chapter 2.2


Step 5: Start with the first step!


Example 2: Writing a thesis

Step 1: Your job is to write a thesis.

Step 2: You want to meet the deadline, write at least 30 pages and get a 1.7.

Step 3: Your steps on this path are:

1) Research

2) Summarize sources

3) Develop structure

4) Solve core problem of work

5) Writing a thesis

Step 4: The intermediate steps would be for example with 1):

1a) Simple Google research

1b) Research with GoogleScholar

1c) Research with ScienceDirect

1d) Research in the university library

1e) Research in secondary sources


Step 5: Start with the first step!

Additional tip: This procedure can be excellently combined with the Pomodoro technique. In this article, I'll show you how to do it.


Read the DOEDL method for free!



The secret to being a highly productive student is shockingly simple: you take one step at a time. You avoid multitasking and only ever focus on one task. You live and work in the here and now and do not allow yourself to be disturbed by external influences.

At first glance, this approach may not seem like a great insight for you, but from my daily work as a study advisor and coach I know how many students cannot reach their potential because they despair of the flood of tasks in their studies. You put yourself under too much pressure and frantically try to bring everything under one roof at the same time. And that almost always goes wrong.

So get used to structuring your tasks and solving your problems strategically. Do not let yourself be driven crazy, but approach your work packages step by step. Then you get bogged down less and are also done faster with everything.


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