In my more virtuous moments (which are more infrequent than I’d like to admit), I realise that revising for exams can actually be interesting, relaxed and enjoyable. Here are some tips that help my productivity.
- Making a list of specific goals and to-dos.
Studies have shown that failure to achieve a goal may be caused by a lack of specificity about the goal or the actions required to achieve it. I eliminate this by writing down my specific goals such as what grade I’m aiming for in each module, as well as the specific actions required to achieve them. The more specific my to-dos become – for example writing measurable criteria for success and the time you should have completed them by – the easier I find it to achieve them.
- Starting early in the term.
I try to start learning and revising the material early in the term so that I can learn it more thoroughly and with less pressure. I find that making flashcards is a great way of learning the material (for example, writing the author and date of a study on one side of the card and the details of the study on the other) and I can use them to test myself throughout the term. I find this to be a more effective and less stressful strategy than leaving it until the last minute.
- Starting early in the day.
One of the best ways to make sure I do revision is to start first thing in the morning. In football, players are encouraged to touch the ball early on in the game to gain confidence and avoid ‘psyching themselves out’. In the same way, beginning study early in the day ensures I avoid the downward spiral of procrastination and instead I ‘get on a roll’ early. In addition, it means I can get revision out of the way early in the day and look forward to doing other things I enjoy.
- Scheduling rest time.
I make sure to schedule time in which to do my hobbies. Having regular ‘play’ hours as well as work hours helps me maintain a balanced routine.
- Using video.
I find video to be a really engaging form of media, and educational videos such as the lecture capture videos and videos on YouTube, such as Andy Field’s statistics videos, are great resources for revision.
- Using audio.
I really like using audio because it allows me to study while doing mundane things such as commuting or cooking, where it may be inconvenient to use video.
- Using the pomodoro technique.
I use this super simple work/rest technique: work for 25 minutes, then take a break for 5 minutes; repeat. This works for me because I can work in the knowledge that I’ll have a break soon, which makes starting (and persevering) much less daunting.
- Blocking my time.
In last year’s guest blog post from Andy Field, he mentioned how he blocks his time into periods where focuses on a task. Since then I’ve been trying to do this, and the main reason that I find it helps is that it allows a break from email and social media, which can be very distracting.
- Organising my notes and pdfs of articles.
By having my notes and pdfs of articles all in one place, whether digitally or in physical files, I can easily find them and use them in my revision.
- Doing a bit of meditation.
Just 10 minutes of meditation a day using the Headspace meditation app has been shown to increase sustained focus, and I know it has for me.