Updated: Sep 10, 2021
Hey Biz Man students,
Welcome back to the blog! This week I wanted to discuss a very important concept: motivation. During this time of year, it can be so easy to lose motivation. After a long year of studying, it is expected that by now you are probably exhausted.
Especially in the last few weeks before the final exam, I found myself just exhausted. I wasn’t really looking forward to much because most of my days I would just spend studying. There was nothing new to look forward to, just study, study, study. We all go through these phases of low motivation, and today I want to share with you some of my best tips and tricks that I used to get out of these slumps!
1. Take breaks (and use them wisely)
I want to debunk a myth that breaks are bad. Especially toward the end of the year, leading up to the final exam, I would go through phases of feeling guilty for taking breaks. I was on the verge of burnout spending nearly every day studying. What I want to tell you is that it is okay to take breaks. I found that scheduling in breaks actually boosted my productivity and general wellbeing. Rather than spending all the hours in a day studying (not very productively), I found that if I took a few short, scheduled breaks each day, my productivity actually rose.
I used a calendar where I would schedule a few hours of study at a time then a break. By actually planning my day before it happened, I felt much more in control of my time, and I knew exactly when my break started and ended. This meant that I was able to meet my study targets while maximizing my productivity and maintaining my mental health. Another strategy that I sometimes use is called the Pomodoro technique. This technique involves studying for 25 minutes, then taking a 5-minute break and repeating this cycle 4 times. After 4 repeats, take a longer break for 20-30 minutes.
I also want to emphasise the difference between using break time well and using it poorly. There is a difference between high-density and low-density fun. High-density fun is an activity that really takes your mind off of studying, such as doing a workout, going for a walk or chatting to a friend. Low-density fun activities include activities like scrolling through Instagram, TikTok or facebook. Low-density fun does not leave you feeling refreshed or energized. In fact, these activities are not really that fun at all they’re more just distractions.
The problem is if you spend your breaks engaging in low-density fun activities, you will return to your study not feeling refreshed or re-energised. In fact, you might feel like you never took a break at all. This is why I recommend taking breaks and using them to get active or be social. Then you can return to your study feeling energized, maximizing your productivity for your next study sesh! Disclaimer: I too struggle to control my social media addiction (the apps were created to make you want to keep scrolling) – so this took a little while for me to overcome but I did find that limiting screen time did improve my wellbeing and productivity!
2. Mix up your subjects
I found that mixing up the subjects that I studied actually helped to keep studying interesting! I personally loved subjects like Business Management, Accounting and Economics and tbh I didn’t love English or Specialist Maths. I found that by chunking my time and splitting up the time I spent on subjects I didn't like with studying subjects that I did like actually kept things interesting! Spending 6 hours in one day on one subject (especially if it’s one you don’t like) can be so physically and mentally exhausting. This also comes back to the idea of creating a schedule for yourself so you can plan when you are going to study for each subject (and split up your boring/hard subjects with some more fun ones!)
3. Have intense study time and less intense study time
Finally, I found that splitting up my time between high intensity study and low intensity study was quite important. My brain doesn’t really function that well in the evening, especially if I spent that day doing intensive practice exams. So, another thing that I found super helpful was having periods of intense study (e.g. practice exams) and less intense study (e.g. reading a textbook chapter). I would schedule in a few hours of very intense study like practice exams and then split this up with less intense study like creating cue cards. In the evenings when my brain was not functioning at peak performance I would do even less intense tasks, like reading a section of the textbook. This helped to add variety to my routine and helped to prevent burnout from doing too many practice papers. I also found that there was plenty of benefit that came from doing these less intense tasks like creating cue cards (not everything has to come back to practice exams!)
Those are my tips for today – hope you found them helpful!
Have a question?
In the final weeks before exams Lauren will be hosting 2 Live Q&A sessions to help everyone get fully prepared for exams. If you have a question on how to best get prepared, have been stuck on an exam question or want to clarify an area of content send it through here, and Lauren might answer it live!