How to be productive this exam term

Don’t worry, this doesn’t include living in the library

Exam term is finally here. You’re determined to be productive this term, instead of procrastinating and then intensely regretting it when you’re in the library at 5am two days before your exams or deadlines. You decide that you’ll plan every little thing, never go on your phone, and spend all your time working and not go out at all. Let’s be realistic though, that’s not going to happen, and its not fully productive even if it did.

So here’s some tips and tricks on how to actually be productive, and not live in the library 24/7.

Make a plan

Planning is key. Whether its detailed or not, writing down your plan for work helps reduce stress and allows you to follow a regime so you don’t go overboard on your work or slack on it. It allows you to see clearly the areas you need to work on. Of course, planning out your work has to come with a sense of realism – don’t plan every single hour to work and don’t expect you’ll get loads done in one day.

Also, don’t over plan. I’m definitely guilty of this one. This is where instead of actually working, you’ll plan it instead, so you feel like you’re being productive but actually you’re just procrastinating. Make a plan, and stick to it.

Stick to a regime

Having a daily regime is super important. Waking up relatively early has been proven to benefit focus and productivity, but waking up too early has the reverse effect. This is something that varies from person to person, so find the time that suits you and set an alarm for it every day. This also applies with sleep – try not to go to sleep too late on a daily basis as this can disrupt your sleep pattern and will effect your work.

It’s also important to find a time of day that you focus better. Most of us have a time where we work really well and a time we can barely work at all. Don’t try to push yourself if you can’t focus or work – just take a break and come back to it later, or you’ll just get stressed out and won’t be able to work efficiently for the rest of the day.

Stay healthy

This is probably the one that we all despise hearing the most around this time, and it’s not too important in relation to productivity – but it is a good way to generally feel better and can help focus. Adopting little healthy things can be a game changer. Tiny things like cutting down on unhealthy foods and switching them for more fruit and veg or going for a quick jog can make the world of difference in the way you feel – exercise especially is proven to boost endorphins so you feel better and more positive, and can also help focus.

Recreational activities are important

As I’ve already highlighted, avoiding all your recreational activities, including social, is actually worse for productivity. It’s important you have a balance, so don’t stop seeing your friends or stop doing your sports. These things are beneficial towards your efficiency and provide a good break from studying. Balance is key.

Choose a good place to study

This is important. Try to study in a study space, and not in your bed or on a sofa. Studies have shown that revising in a similar environment to where you’ll take your exams can boost focus and efficiency and will help you more in the exam as you are in a similar environment. So try somewhere quiet and sit upright on a chair – not slouching on the sofa. This also applies to how you study – if you’re taking a written exam you should start revising by writing instead of typing, and vice versa.

Avoid distractions

Music is an interesting one. Generally, studies seem to show that playing music whilst studying is no good (besides classical which has been proven to improve focus). This is because it is a distraction. But some people do work better with music so it does depend on you – but if you know it causes you a distraction, then leave the headphones at home so you can’t be tempted.

Phones, of course, are also distracting. One of the most successful ways to defeat this issue is to give your phone to a friend who won’t give it back until they feel you’ve finished the goal you’ve set yourself. This has worked wonders for me before, and now I don’t even reach for my phone when I work because I’m used to not having it.

Actually study

Stop procrastinating! The easiest way to start being productive is to throw yourself into your work. The most common reason for procrastination is because students feel as if they have so much to do and it causes stress. But as soon as you start a weight is lifted – so just start small and go from there.