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By Gordon Voogt
7 February 2017

With independent study week not far away, and exams following hot on its heels (I know, already!), I thought I might be able to help with some top tips for getting the most out of your valuable study time.

Be Realistic.

I think we all need to be realistic and realise that it is ultimately down to ourselves to find the motivation and time to achieve what we set out to. You know your capabilities, so set achievable goals. However, if you struggle with procrastination, we all need a bit of help sometimes, so the rest of tips will hopefully give you practical ideas of how you can avoid this.

Know when you are wasting your time.

Cartoon

One of the biggest cures for procrastination is to not allow you to trick yourself into thinking you are working! Be self-aware and realise when you’re not actually making a useful contribution to your goal and are just completely wasting your time - that time could be better-spent elsewhere. For example, if you are trying to read through your module book but find yourself spending 50 percent of the time on Facebook or texting people, and 50 percent of the time glancing down at the page then you may as well just close the book and stop wasting your time. If this happens, take a break, do some exercise, have something to eat, or head to the library or another quiet place free from distractions and try again.

Set time specific goals which allow you to exceed them and reward yourself.

This was one of the things I felt helped me loads when studying or writing. If I had 8 hours available, for example, I’d set myself a goal of writing 200 words each hour. Then I said to myself, if I do 400 words in the first hour I could spend the second hour relaxing. Although this slightly contradicts the point above, we all work slightly differently and you could apply this strategy to reading or revising.

Cover the basics and don’t overcomplicate things.

If you have a variety of things that you need to revise, it doesn’t help to get caught up in the details on one particular area. Once you’ve found out the absolute minimum you need to do, you can target these things, and then if you wish to, or finish early, you can move on to the more detailed bits. In this way you won’t overcomplicate things, or feel overwhelmed.

Study with someone. 

Picture of students

I always found that working with students who I thought were determined and motivated to succeed really helped me as they will always expect you to contribute or work just as hard as they do.  Their work ethic will rub off on you and you’ll probably find that they are more than willing to explain concepts to you as it helps them revise it.

Good luck for a productive and fun study week!

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