Exam season is upon us, and always seems to be coming round, and those essay deadlines seem to have all arrived at once. However well planned you are when it comes to studying there will always be those times when you just have to lock yourself away in your room for a week, and just get the job done. So how exactly do you stay sane in this self-imposed isolation, and ensure that you emerge, blinking into the dawn of your first exam with all of your faculties still intact?
Carve space for yourself
Sitting down to spend some serious time on an essay can be hard to do when your desk can’t be seen for dirty laundry and the remains of last night’s take away. It is important that you establish a workspace for yourself where you can focus on the tasks before you, and taking the time to set up a proper study area can really aid concentration in the long run. Whether this means grabbing that particular seat in the corner of the library, spring cleaning your room, or simply heading for a quiet corner of a coffee shop, find a space you can call your own. Take time to set up your notes, laptop, printer and anything else you will need, ensuring that everything is to hand.
Organisation is key
A tidy desk may not equate to a tidy mind but it certainly helps. Organise your workload into files and folders that can be easily accessed and stored away. The less cluttered your desk is, the fewer distractions there will be and the more productive your work time will become.
Take it one thing at a time
Once your filing system is organised make sure that you make the most of it. Trying to revise everything you have learnt in a year all at once is a sure path to disaster. Instead, tackle one project or subject at a time, ensuring that before you move onto the next essay all your notes and books are safely filed away and the only information on your desk relates to the topic you are currently working on.
Break it down
Staring at a huge mountain of work to be done can be a major distraction and very demoralising.
Instead of letting the size of the task get you down and stop you from tackling it, break to down into smaller chunks, and only aim to complete what you know you can manage. Set yourself a goal for the morning, or day, or week. If you have a week to write an essay, assign one day for background research, a morning to write the introduction, 500 words to be written in an afternoon, and an hour or two for that all important bibliography. Before you know it, all of these tasks have added up, and you’ve made huge progress.
Add some inspiration to your workspace in the form of pictures, photographs, or inspirational quotes. Get hold of a few items that remind you of the goals you are working towards and you will find yourself feeling motivated even in the more difficult times.
Take a few minutes at the end of each day to clear your desk and tidy away. Crawling into bed while it’s still covered in books and papers will not make for a restful night’s sleep. Tidying away your work will also help you to wind down and put you in the right frame of mind to enjoy some well-deserved time off. Take a walk around the campus, or play sports, some physical exercise and fresh air will help you switch off, and spend a little of that cooped up energy.
Although exam season can be stressful, make the choice to not let it get you down. With a little forward planning and some focused effort, you can maximise your potential and look back when it’s all over being proud of how you handled it.