So this week I officially finished my exams and left university forever *sob*. I’ve had so many conflicting feelings about this state of affairs! On the one hand, I’m thrilled at the fact that I’ll never ever have to write another French or Philosophy essay again. Phew. On the other, I’m obviously very sad to be leaving the place I’ve called my home for the last 4 years and frankly terrified at the prospect of becoming an “adult”. I mean, I still don’t think I really understand what bills, council tax, pension schemes, etc. are.. Anyone else?
Anyway, I know that a lot of people are still stuck in the middle of exam period, so I thought I’d share a few tips which have really helped me to be more productive at revision. It’s very easy to go to the library for 6 hours and only end up actually doing about 2 hours of decent work, while spending the other 4 repeatedly refreshing facebook, browsing pinterest for summer outfit ideas, or reading completely pointless and uninteresting buzzfeed articles. So here are my 5 quick tips for being as productive as possible…
1. Keep a timetable and stick to it!
About a month before you start exams, try and write a revision plan with something you want to achieve each day. I find it’s better to write a “goal” for each day, instead of writing specific tasks. So for example, instead of saying “Monday: Revise French grammar”, try saying “By the end of Monday, I want to understand and be fully comfortable with the French subjunctive tense”. Having a goal in mind will spur you on a bit more. Secondly, at the beginning of each day, I like to take 10 minutes to just go over what I need to do that day and set out a loose schedule for achieving it. Most importantly though, stick to it!! Do not spend hours creating a really detailed revision plan, only to never actually complete any of it.
2. Try the 40/10 trick.
When I first started revising, I tried to just sit at my computer for hours on end, with only a few breaks a day. Obviously, this didn’t work as I’d start getting really distracted and find my mind drifting to other things. That’s when my boyfriend and I decided to try mixing it up a bit. We revised solidly for 40 minutes, switching off all other sites for this time, and then took a 10 minute break where you could do whatever you wanted. After three 40 minute sessions, we then took a longer break of 30 minutes, with 45 minutes for lunch. We found this made us so much more productive and focused.
3. Turn off ALL social media.
Following on from tip 2, I think this is one of the best pieces of advice I can give. It’s really important that during the 40 minute work session, you completely switch off from facebook, twitter, instagram, pinterest, everything! I would also recommend sticking your phone in your bag out of reach, or even give it to someone else to look after if you don’t trust your willpower. It’s important you’re completely in the zone for 40 minutes, and then you can check everything during your 10 minute break. I mean really, is anything that life-altering going to happen online that can’t wait 40 minutes?
4. Be honest with yourself about what you need to do.
We have a bit of a saying at uni… “The house is never cleaner than during revision period”. When you’ve got an essay to write or an exam to prepare for, suddenly there seems to be an endless task of things you need to do first. You need to wash the dishes, clean the bathroom, organise your desk… countless tasks which suddenly seem really necessary. Don’t kid yourself about this. Anything, even cleaning the toilet, can seem more appealing than getting down to some work, so just put them out of your head and get the work done first. The dishes can wait.
5. Take a break.
One of the most important things about productive work, is knowing when to take a break. To prepare for my uni exams, I tried to revise 6 days a week, and then for one day, I would completely switch off and do whatever I felt like that day. Whether it was meeting friends for lunch, a bit of retail therapy, or even just lying in bed watching Game of Thrones, that’s what I’d do. I think it’s so necessary to just give your mind a good rest or you’ll work yourself up into a state. It’s also nice to give yourself some motivation for the week. My boyfriend and I would try to have one “treat” each week, like going to our favourite restaurant for dinner or out for some nice cocktails if we got all our work done.
I hope these tips have been helpful to anyone still revising, or even in your professional life! If you want some more advice, check out my 6 Tips for Balancing Blogging with Exams. Finally, honestly don’t stress out too much. Exams are not the be all and end all of life, just work hard and try your best. Good luck everyone!
Thanks for reading! Joanna xxxxx