We’ve come back round to that time of year. ASSL library is now open 24 hours a day, Tesco is running out of your favourite energy drinks and your room is a flurry of papers as you look for THAT lecture handout you KNOW is here somewhere. Yes my friends, we have reached exam season. Free time isn’t really yours to do what you want with when you know how much work you have to do!
You’d think by your final year you’d be more mentally prepared for this, have some sort of strategy or game plan, know the most productive and efficient method for your revision. Nope. Not at all. Some of my other friends have fallen afoul of the same sad fate I’m trying to run away from – third year apathy. With only two essays and one exam to go and no structure in my life anymore I am struggling to find any motivation, enthusiasm or interest in my work. I have no lectures anymore, and with all this free time it’s up to me to structure my day into something ‘productive’.
Sadly, there’s no one answer to productivity. It’s a subtle combination of your environment, your learning style, the content and your feeling on the day. I try to vary my environment as much as possible depending on my mood as my learning style and content aren’t as flexible. Around exam time it can be really helpful to try ‘mental compartilisation’ – essentially where your brain associates certain spaces with certain activities. For me, that means I try not to work on my bed because I struggle to sleep at night and if I work at home (rarely – too many distractions!), I try and work at my desk to register that particular area in my brain as ‘productive’.
As for the actual where, when and how, libraries during exam season can be disgustingly busy and overly oppressing. There’s nothing worse than staring listlessly at your own screen and listening to the busy tapping on keyboards as other people manage to procure some useful work. I work better in more relaxed environments such as coffee shops, the students union or even my living room. As for how you revise, YouTube videos can be a great break from the usual note taking process – you’d be surprised how much is on there. What time you revise is really a personal preference. I used to get very caught up in the idea that if I didn’t get up early and start revising straight away I was being ‘unproductive’, in fact I work better in the afternoon and at night. Unless I have plans for those parts of the days, I’ll get up and work when it suits me. The last and most surprising part of my revision this year also involves more often than not a nap at some point in the day, and before you judge and claim that now I really am pushing it and being unproductive, I’m justifying it with science…
Happy revising everyone!