Exam season, it’s like Marmite…. no scrap that we all hate it. Especially when the sun is shining and we’re stuck in the library reading source after source that we’re probably never going to quote, but we’ll read in the off chance we can use it, even though most of it goes after our heads. Getting repetitive strain injury from all those essays and developing an unhealthy relationship with the vending machine. To say it’s not the best time of the year would be a massive understatement. But it is possible to own it. Seriously. It’s not easy, it takes hard work and at times you’ll want to just pack it in from the boredom, but you can come out winning and still have a life. Yes it’s true. And you don’t needs Bernard’s watch to do it.
I’m lucky. I’m naturally driven and doing things half-arsed just isn’t an option. But if university has taught me anything is that others don’t necessarily possess this. So in this blog post I’ll try to bottle up this motivation and share it with you through some handy life hacks that will make this study season that little more bearable.
Don’t underestimate the power of food when you’re revising. It can fuel you and revive you. But don’t rely on nipping out for a meal deal everyday. It’s expensive and not the healthiest option. Instead bulk cook something like a pasta salad for your lunches and buy healthy snacks to keep energy levels up and hunger at bay. Good suggestions are cartons of soya/ non dairy chocolate milk, nuts and seeds mixes, houmous and veggies/ pitta, peanut butter and oatcakes, squaress of dark chocolate. Pack stuff you will look forward to eating. Then after every 2-3 hours of studying reward yourself with a little snack. If you fuel yourself right, you’ll work so much better.
Studies have shown that those that write a shopping list find it a lot easier to remember what to buy even if they forget the list. You can do the same with studying. At the beginning of the week write a list of all the homework assignments, research and revision you need to do by module and estimate how long you’ll need for each task. Then mark its urgency so 1 being not at all urgent, 10 being do it this second. Then the night before each day, write down the tasks you aim to do the next day (do the most urgent at the beginning of the week, when you have more energy), then pack your bag with everything you need. That way you’ll begin the day a lot more focused and be way more productive than just doing tasks willy nilly.
There is a lot of truth in the saying “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”. It’s important to study and work hard, but it’s also important to have time off. As well as scheduling in revision make time to socialise with friends a couple of times each week. Meet for coffee, have a film night, cook dinner together, whatever. Just do something that gets you away from the desk. It doesn’t mean drinking til three in the morning several times a week though.
The fact of the matter is that if you want the top grades you’ve got to make work your priority. And that means treating your degree like a full time job. Start and end by a set time each day. I aim to work 7-8 hours a day in the week and then have the weekend off if I’ve got everything done. That amount of time allows you to get lots done, which will reduce your stress and make you feel less guilty about down time.
There are certain tasks that we can do better at certain times of day. Some of us prefer to do our long readings in the morning when we’re most alert and then do more practical tasks later on. When you plan your revision for the day be sure to change the subject and type of task every two hours to prevent flagging and a loss of concentration and motivation.
Exam season will take its toll on you and if you’re not careful you’ll end up burning out. You’ll only perform your best if you’re feeling your best, so go to bed at a reasonable hour on week nights, eat plenty of good, wholesome food and get a bit of exercise and fresh air each day. Sounds obvious, but it makes all the difference.
We may want to do our best, but that doesn’t mean we have to work all the time. Have Sundays off to do whatever the hell you want. Go to the cinema, have brunch with friends, have a lie in, binge on Netflix. Have some time for you to ensure you’re refreshed and motivated to start it all again on Monday.
I hope you’ve found this post helpful. If you have any of your own tips for exam season let me know in the comments below.
Until next week,