We’ve all been there, ‘ten days til my exam!’ you think, ‘oh I’ll take a break for a couple of days’ you think, ‘I have loads of time!’ you think, ‘this time it will be different’ and then, boom. Your exam is two hours away and you’re screwed. Damn.
So how do you turn things around? Or as has been requested, what tips can I share to get you on the straight and narrow to straight A’s?
Like anybody I procrastinate too. Hello Twitter! Facebook! Instagram! Tumblr! Pinterest! Reddit! Sims! YouTube!… you get the picture. But I also take exams (and uni work in general) pretty seriously. Sure, there’s that old school feel that at Uni you can mess around, get boozed all the time and generally take a few years easy before getting into ‘real life’. But at the same time, you’re paying at least $500 per paper to have that sort of lifestyle. Failing a paper at uni because you haven’t put in the work is one of the most expensive nights on Facebook you can possibly ever have.
So with that in mind let’s get into….
It’s time for a Change in Mindset…
If you’re a chronic procrastinator then all the points that will follow won’t make any difference. The first thing towards studying efficiently is a change in mind set. If you study full time, then studying is your job. It’s not time out of your sun bathing time or an inconvenient blip before your holidays. If anything studying for exams is a core part of the semester – all those lectures you grudgingly got out of bed for will be pointless if you don’t put some work in now.
Work out your Hours…
So now that you’re thinking of study as your job, it’s time to work out your hours. Take into account eating, other work commitments and any other distractions that may pop up. Make dedicated time for study and if you need to write it down.
Get your Study Spot Sorted…
Fixing up your study spot, negotiating mess, finding things can take up a lot of time, so establishing a clear study spot is crucial.
If it’s your bedroom then clean it – mess can be distracting and next thing you know you’re spring cleaning.
If you’re going in to Uni then that’s easy – grab a desk and you’re away.
Think about what you’ll need to study with – highlighters, pens, pencils, refill. Make sure it’s all on hand.
If you’re going to work in bed, think about it – are you actually going to be productive or will you fall asleep? If the answer is the latter then compromise, wrap a blanket around you and make a spot at a desk or table.
Make a plan…
You’ve already got your hours sorted out but what are you actually going to do during that time?
Prioritise your exams/ assessments. Work out what you need to cover for each exam by when and then break it down into study steps -e.g. note taking for x, y, z topic, testing etc. Divide each step up into tasks – you want to be able to complete each task in 40-60 minutes.
Make a list. Put it in clear sight of your study area. It’s a visual reminder but it also feels so so good to complete things.
Work out how your plan will fit into your ‘work hours’. Be realistic. You may think you have time to cover everything – you probably don’t. Factor in settling in time, regular breaks (I usually take one when I complete a task), lunch time and social media.
Yep. If you’re currently studying then chances are you’re also on Facebook or Twitter etc. These can be the hugest drains of time. I know, I do the ol’ Twitter, Instagram, Emails, Facebook, Snapchat, refresh and repeat cycle like it’s going out of style. These things are hugely distracting! So allocate yourself some time during your breaks to quickly check things. Then turn it off. Turn your phone facedown, close tabs, log out. Turn that s*** off. You’ll know you’re making progress because you’ll actually forget that you’re missing out. (Confessions from a self confessed mobile device addict).
Time to Work…
Hopefully you’ve got a clear working space, stationery, and a plan. What’s next? Grab a glass of water and some snacks. You’re not leaving your desk until you’ve finished one task on your plan.
Go to the bathroom, do a last social media check then put that phone down and get to work. Your plan will tell you what to do first. Stick to it but actively think about what you’re taking in. Something isn’t making sense? Is it important that it does? Pause and work it out. Mindlessly writing notes won’t get you anywhere, it’s understanding what you’re doing that will make things easy in the exam.
Stupidly Basic Distractions…
These may seem stupidly obvious but I’m gonna say it anyway – these are things which probably won’t help you study at all.
– Having a Facebook window open, ‘My class facebook group is so helpful though’ – sometimes yes, most of the time it’s just distracting.
– Phone face up – notifications, even if it’s just Bejewelleds Weekend notifications make your screen light up. Turn it down, save your eyes flicking to it whenever it lights up.
– Studying outside. Sometimes this works, most of the time it doesn’t. Be honest, you just want a tan, you will fall asleep/ get distracted.
– Cats. If you have a cat like mine he will want to be all over your laptop. It’s a pain. Lock them out.
– Friends. Oh I’ll study with friends. No you won’t. Unless your friends have a track record of actually studying if you work with them then don’t go there. Or at least not til you’re confident with what you’re studying.
If you’re actually following my tips you’re probably feeling a bit like a slave to the text book. But you’ve got time management down so let yourself relax every now and then! Factor in meeting up with friends, painting nails, going out for dinner. Keep yourself sane! And set yourself a little treat for when you complete tasks – a new dress for a good exam result sounds pretty alright with me.
Important tips on this score include, keeping up a beauty routine, take vitamin C and echinacea, eat fruit, sleep, look after yourself. At the moment eye cream is my bff for dealing with tired eyes and I really need some vitamins to address the ulcer situation that is festering in my mouth. Look after yourself so that you don’t get sick!
At the end of the day, it’s your mind set that is the most important though. Recently I read someones new approach to procrastination – If it will take less than five minutes, do it straight away. If it will take longer you can leave it. This doesn’t strictly apply to study – you’ll probably need more than five minutes, but break big tasks into little tasks, focus on what you actually need to know and then just do it. A small amount every day if you’ve got the time will be infinitely more useful than cramming all day long!