It’s got to that time of year again: long caffeine-induced days and even longer evenings spent reading, studying and memorising facts, theorists and dates. Exam season and deadlines really creep up on you, don’t they? It’s taken me numerous years in education, but I’ve finally figured out a few easy ways to make these stressful times seem less difficult to deal with.
Coffee is good, but don’t live off it (I know it’s tempting)
I love coffee. Especially when it’s cold and rainy outside, making a pot full and sipping away whilst working feels so much cosier. But you don’t want to be jumping off the walls whilst you’re trying to work, so try not to overdo it. Making sure you’ve always got a big glass of water next to you (as well as the coffee) will also help keep you feeling awake, alert and healthier through the long day of studying.
Don’t let snacking replace proper meals
Who isn’t guilty of snacking when working?! That’s what I want to know. It’s so easy to open a packet of biscuits, chocolates, crisps and within a short amount of time to have reached the end of the bag. Whilst snacks may be an incentive for work, it is important that you don’t neglect to eat proper meals during exam/deadline seasons, not just for the healthy getting-your-five-a-day-goodness side of things, but to keep your body fuelled up and running as best it can be.
Take shorter, more regular breaks
I know everyone works differently, but I for one can’t concentrate for hours at a time. I find that by rotating 1-1.5 hours of work followed by a half an hour break keeps me focused and working more productively over the course of the day, rather than working for hours and hours non-stop and then taking the same amount of break. By splitting it all up, you can more easily set goals and rewards for yourself, ie. after this section, I’ll text my flatmate about xyz/make lunch/scroll through twitter etc, producing more of an incentive to work harder. Setting daily goals and rewards for yourself may also be a useful encouragement to consider.
Take a break from the screen
This is particularly when you’re working on an essay, or revising online, but stands for non-computer revision as well. Looking at a screen for long amounts of time can strain your eyes, consequently leading to headaches and tiredness – two things you want to avoid when you’ve got a lot of work on your plate. I find that taking myself completely out of my work area when breaking really helps me separate the two activities. Try and co-ordinate your breaks with flatmates so you can have a cuppa and a chat, or do something practical like catch up on washing this morning’s dishes, to take your mind off work. Alternatively, if the weather permits, throw on a pair of shoes and get some fresh air; this will not only stretch your legs, but give your brain a rest, and wake you up – making you much less tired and more productive when you sit back down to work.
Make sure to give yourself time to relax
Giving yourself time to recharge is just as important in these mentally and emotionally challenging times. Setting a cut-off time for finishing work and relaxing in the evenings is vital to staying happy, positive and productive, particularly if you’re studying hard for a number of days in a row. Also, making sure to reward yourself at the end of a particularly successful day, after an assignment hand-in, or the afternoon after an exam is important for both your brain and body, and makes you feel much better about all the work you put in.