Studying High: How to get the most out of it

Education
// October 4, 2017

Cannabis is a substance of ideas and creative impulse. It’s a cataleptic hurricane, but no steady tortoise. If you want to grind out a paper while high, forget it. Best used for inspiration and reward.

To win in the long run, you’ll want to start with a stimulant which provides slow and steady energy and focus, like green tea or yerba mate. Use this to do the grunt work before bringing in cannabis. And forget coffee: that will give you the jitters. Don’t even ask about Adderall and other prescriptions medications. These will make you feel like a god for a few hours, but the comedown takes everything away and more.

The real secret for incorporating cannabis use into your studying regime is to use it at the midway point and the end of a long session. Below I’ll provide the details on why and how you should do it this way.

The Midway Spark

The midway point.

You should always reward yourself when you complete tasks–particularly ones you don’t really feel like doing. By taking a break half-way through something (but committing to coming back and finishing it) you’re signaling to yourself that your efforts are indeed worth it, that you’re getting somewhere, that the end is near.

I would limit study sessions to around 4 hours total, regardless of what day it is. Even if you don’t have an assignment due the next day, study now so that later, you don’t have to cram 3 days into one, spending 12 hours at the library on a Friday. Get those 4 hours in on Wednesday.

Whatever you’re working on, you’ll be a little worn out after 2 hours, whether you notice it or not. Some people like me can barely sit still for 30 minutes; some people can hole up in a library basement for 6 hours with nothing but a quick bathroom break, granola bar, and sip of water. Either way, you’ll be most effective if you get up after 2 hours and take a serious break.

2 Hours in, your ideas will be softer, your language will be weaker, and the novelty will be gone from whatever subject it is you’re focussing on. This is when you’ll see the best results–the phoenix revival— from smoking cannabis. Leave your books at the desk (this will force you to return and be quick), step outside, take a bite of an apple or some dried fruit or a sandwich or chips, have two puffs of weed, take a walk around the building, and go back inside. This is the inspiration you need. Your work will suddenly be colorful again. Your enthusiasm will have increased, you’ll see problems from a new perspective than before–one wholly unreachable by sitting in a chair straining effort.

Get a loose piece of paper and draw a mind-map. Draw everything you know about a subject, just for fun. This will strengthen existing synapses and will allow you to recall the information better in the future. Your mind is in a very creative state now. You want to get a picture of everything you know–your foundations–so that you can build up and out of them with your present burst of mental energy. You’ll think things you haven’t thought before, see into spaces you couldn’t reach: now is the time to write everything (I mean everything) down. One of the biggest mistakes people make while high is not writing things down. Their incredible thoughts get lost in the haze. And it really is a haze. Sometimes it can be very difficult to transcribe the flow of thoughts moving through you. Put in some effort and don’t lose faith. Chase the ideas down, hold them, imprison them on paper.

Now that you’re seeing your project in a new way, keep working for the next two hours.Surf through Wikipedia, but avoid reading long passages. Keep creating instead. Or edit old work. Your new eyes will allow you to be honest and truthful with yourself about what works and what doesn’t. Don’t try to force anything unnatural. The trick is to have fun at this point. Enjoy yourself.

The Reward

High grades.

After another two hours go by and you’ve successfully wrestled into submission your most powerful thoughts, think about packing up, heading home for dinner. Have a puff of cannabis along the way.

The reward mechanism’s importance to fruitful studying cannot be understated: you have to reward yourself when you do the things you want to be doing. You just completed 4 hours of intense focus on a subject. You did the initial 2 hours of reading, note-taking, writing, thinking, and then you did another 2 hours of freeform play with your subject.

This is the purest, truest way to study. If you could do this every day, you would be on your way to Oxford on a Rhodes Scholarship. So you better tell your material body lower stratum what’s up. Feed it something tasty and healthy, have another puff and unwind. On the way to your dorm or the bus loop, take a moment to consider how the subject you just studied relates to you on a personal level. Why do I find economics interesting? What are the literary symbols in my life? What is it about knowledge that’s so juicy and delicious?

Keep at this routine. Integrate cannabis into a daily study regimen by smoking it at the midway point of a session and as a reward at the end. Mix things up a bit, have fun with what you’re doing, and you’ll see your grades and overall happiness improve in no time.

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