With Christmas now behind us, thoughts turn to the less frivolous pursuit that is uni work. For many students, the new year means looming deadlines and exams, so it’s time to stop procrastinating and get down to some real study time.
Want to make the most of your available time without getting burnout? Check out our top 7 tips for putting a stop to procrastination and increasing your productivity.
Cut out the distractions
Okay, “revising” with pals is more enjoyable, but realistically, will you get as much done? The same goes for revising in bed or with the TV on; it might be more enjoyable, but it will also be considerably less effective.
Set aside dedicated work time and cut out all distractions; turn off the TV, mute your phone, and avoid asking your friends how much they’ve done. If they’ve done lots more than you, it might not have the desired motivational effect you were hoping for.
Make a plan
The first step on your revision or coursework journey is to make a detailed study plan, with emphasis on the word detailed. Decide which areas of study you feel most and least confident about or which aspects count most toward your overall mark and plan your study accordingly.
Block out time for each aspect of your work and factor in breaks for meals, exercise and personal downtime. And then, stick to your plan as closely as possible.
Setting timelines and limits can hugely benefit your productivity. Which sounds more urgent? “I need to have written a 10,000-word paper by next month” or “I need to have finished the research and started a rough plan by Tuesday?”. Split your work into roughly equal segments and set yourself time limits accordingly.
Once you’ve completed each chunk of revision/work, reward yourself. Watch an episode of your favourite show or meet a friend for a coffee. Mental breaks from study will actually help you to retain information and positively affect your concentration.
Work to your own schedule
Work and study hours tend to follow an arbitrary 9-5 schedule, but there’s nothing to say that’s the time period when you work best. If you’re an early bird, start work at 7 am and finish earlier. Or, if you genuinely work best later in the day, allow yourself to start at lunchtime. Remember, though, exams WILL take place during this time period, so if you get into the habit of getting up at 2 pm, it might not set you in good stead for that 9 am exam.
Get your app on
There’s an app for everything these days and that includes effective study. The My Study Life app is free and available on the App Store. The app enables you to store info about study, revision and exams and manage them from any of your devices.
You can set tasks and reminders and receive notifications about potential clashes or any deadlines that are looming. It will also remind you if you haven’t finished any of your tasks which, providing you set deadlines and divide your work into chunks, could come in very handy indeed.
Eat healthily and exercise
When you’re busy, it’s tempting to exist on snacks and carbs to get you through the day, but this won’t leave you in top health by the time deadline or exam day rolls around. Take care of your body and it will take care of you.
Not only does exercise get the blood flowing and provide a well-deserved study break, but it also gets more blood to the brain and makes it function better, helping you to retain knowledge and make better decisions. And healthy foods will leave you feeling more energetic and focused than a rushed bag of crisps on the way to a lecture.
In fact, junk food will lead to dips in blood sugar and too much caffeine can make you anxious, so consume them with caution. Drink water, eat well, and you’ll be in great shape come exam time.
Relax and stay positive
Exam stress is very real and has very real consequences. Not only can anxiety affect the grade you get, but it can also affect your confidence, motivation and self-esteem.
It’s wise to avoid putting too much pressure on yourself. Remember that one exam or piece of coursework is just that – one element of your grade. Of course, aim to do your best, but ultimately, relaxing and staying positive might be the best thing you can do.
There’s no magic formula for exam success and your job at this stage is to find a study or revision method that works for you. You get out what you put in so work hard, eat well, give yourself a break from time to time, and we’ll see you on the other side!
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