Timekeeping Tips You Can Count On
By Zoe (they/she), who thinks ‘Tip 8’ in the list below might just be the most important.
To the uninitiated amongst us, the phrase ‘time management’ might sound like a boring buzzword or pointless jargon. But time management AKA Timekeeping AKA Being a Totally Organised Badass, can get your revision done on time and your essays finished before the last minute. It can also help your mind rest a little easier, and your body find ease in the midst of chaos. So if you want to stop rushing and feeling like everything (including yourself) is always on the verge of being late, then read on!
Top 10 time management tips for exams and revision.
1. Get an accountability buddy
Getting yourself an accountability buddy can work wonders for getting stuff done on time. Especially if the other person has their own goals too. Maybe you’ve got to get some biology revision done by Thursday, and they’ve got heaps of maths revision for next week. Letting each other know your progress, and keeping each other motivated and accountable, can really help keep you both on track.
2. Prioritise your tasks
Revision to-dos piling up around you? Well, the first ‘to-do’ is to figure out which things are the most important — and then choose your three ‘most important tasks’ for the day. If you blaze through those with ease, and then have time for other tasks too then that’s amazing, but simply deciding which to-dos are your priority can help ease any feelings of overwhelm.
Oh, if all of your tasks feel too ‘big’ and take days or weeks to complete, then try breaking them down into smaller tasks — this can often help to make it feel more manageable.
3. Focus on one task at a time
If you’re revising a certain chapter, try and focus on just that. Don’t spend your time worrying about all the other things you still need to do, or about how soon the exam is. Just focus your attention on the task in front of you. This is often easier than it sounds — so cut yourself some slack and just do the best you can.
4. Set yourself right-sized goals
When it comes to revision it’s easy to fall into the trap of wanting to know every single little thing by heart, and have read every word on every reading list, and totally understand every concept in intricate detail.
But the thing is, we each only have a set amount of time. And we’re also only human. So set yourself right-sized goals — goals which are big enough to stretch your comfort zone a little (e.g. create a revision schedule and stick to it), but not so big that it’s completely unattainable (e.g. know more about geology than Google does). You know yourself, so set goals that are right for you!
5. Celebrate the small wins
It’s really important to celebrate the small wins. Completed your three most important tasks for the day? Awesome! Whatever feels like a celebration — an episode of your favourite show, a lime soda in a fancy glass, or hanging out with friends — you do you! Allow yourself to be proud of the daily victories and achievements.
6. Use your phone to your advantage
Nope, this isn’t about mindlessly scrolling TikTok or finding the best ‘revision’ emojis. But it is about using all the features on your phone to help you stay focused. So set the timer for 20 minutes of ‘focus time’. Schedule your task deadlines in your calendar (making sure those deadlines are realistic!). And turn on multiple (?!) alarms for the morning of your exam so you don’t oversleep.
7. Relax and unwind
Okay, scrap what you just read in the paragraph above. Because if mindlessly scrolling TikTok helps you relax, then add time for it into your revision schedule. Equally, try and follow the age-old advice about getting fresh air and some physical movement, even if it’s just a dance around the kitchen while making toast — because the more you can do to help your body and mind relax, the more productive you’ll be when you sit down to do your tasks.
8. Practise compassion
We know we’re all different, right? Yet sometimes, thoughts will pop up like, “If they can do that, what’s wrong with me?”. Or, “Why am I struggling with this, when everyone else seems to just get it?”. In case you need a timely reminder: You, dear reader, are a beautiful unique wonder of the world, with your own talents and your own struggles.
We can each only do our best, and that will look different for each of us. Some of us have ADHD or intense exam anxiety, some of us have money worries on top of all the revision stress, or a whole bunch of other things going on in our life outside of exams. So practise compassion for yourself, and maybe send your friends some love as they might need it too.
9. Respect your own productivity rhythm
If you know you work best in the early evening, then do yourself a favour and tackle the most ‘important’ revision tasks at that time. Maybe you always get a wave of energy around 11 am? Or you feel sluggish after lunch? Get curious about when your energy and focus is at its highest — and then use it to your advantage by revising at those times.
10. Say no
When you’re in the midst of exams and revision, you’ve got a lot on your plate. So allow yourself to say “no” to other things. Is your aunt celebrating her dog’s ‘gotcha-day’? Or has someone asked you to help out with something?
If you want to go and it’ll help you relax, then great — but if you know you’ll just be stressed about all the revision you’ve got to do, then say “no”. Set your boundaries, and let your friends and family know. After all, saying “no” isn’t rude or selfish. It’s simply a way to honour your own energy and time.
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