Careers Perspectives – from the Bath careers service

Focus on your future with expert advice from your careers advisers

Time management tips around exams!

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📥  Advice, Tips & Hints

I was in the library a few days back, it was heaving! You lot, hunched over your textbooks, sunlight deprived and looking visibly stressed. I have been there, albeit a long time ago and know the feeling of living off cups of coffee and pot noodles. It really does take its toll on your mind and body, fueling anxiety and stress. I really mean it when I say, it doesn't need to be this way. Much comes down to that old chestnut "time management" and here are some tips to help you make the most of the limited revision time you have left:

  1. Make a list: sounds obvious but much comes down to how you use the list! First, list absolutely everything you have to do (coursework, revision, sports commitment, work, calling your mum etc). Make a 2x2 grid with ‘Important’ and ‘Not important’ across the top and ‘Urgent’ and ‘Not urgent’ down the side. Allocate your tasks to the four squares in the grid. Bam! you have prioritised whats important and along the way gained a bit of perspective.
  2. Must-should-want-will: alternatively, organise your master to do list under the following headings: ‘Must do’, ‘Should do’, ‘Want to do’. Now make a ‘Will do’ list for today taking items from each list. Only add things you know you will do. Reward yourself for the ‘must do’ and ‘should do’ items by allowing yourself a ‘want to do’ item.
  3. Smarter revision using a timer: Buy a kitchen timer or use a timer app on your phone. Set the timer for a period of 40 minutes. Work on one task without stopping until the timer goes off. Set the timer for 10 minutes and have a break. Set another 40 minutes and repeat. This technique will not only help you focus but will also ensure you are keeping the old enemy 'procrastination' at bay.
  4. Visual nagging: Put up a sign by your desk with the question ‘What is the best thing you could be working on now?’ Alternatively, put something that will remind you about a task in a place where you have to notice it like your mirror or on top of your phone...
  5. Batching: Group tasks by similarity, e.g. same location, involving same people, using same resources. Do similar tasks together and maximise your time.
  6. Energy scheduling: Try to schedule particularly demanding tasks or revision for times in the day when you tend to have most energy. Take advantage of times when you are feeling productive to tackle stuff that is most challenging.
  7. Motivation by action: Don’t wait for motivation to strike. Whatever you are putting off, just start it and allow yourself to stop after a fixed time period (it can be as little as 5 minutes). It doesn’t matter if you haven’t made much progress. See if starting it has made you more motivated to engage with it.
  8. Change your location: If you’re having trouble starting a task, go somewhere else to do it. The change of location could produce a change in thinking or attitude which makes it easier to do the thing you have been putting off.
  9. Eliminate time wasters: be honest, what do you waste time on? Facebook? Twitter? Emails? Stop checking them so often. One thing you can do is make it hard to check them – remove them from your browser quick links, switch off notifications and your phone. Schedule set times to browse and perhaps reward yourself with social media time when you tick an action off your to-do-list.
  10. Realistic last minute: When you are given coursework or a project with a deadline, work out when is the last point at which you could start the task and have a realistic hope of getting it done. Add a bit of extra time for bad luck.

Finally, make sure you eat (not just pot noodle but something wholesome), get fresh air, sleep and support. Contact Counselling & Wellbeing for the support bit, especially if you find your levels of anxiety are rocketing leading up to exams. If the job hunting side of things is weighing on your mind, then please be assured we are here all year round and you can use our service even after you graduate.

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