A Workaholic’s Guide to Exam Season
For many students, finding the motivation to write those last few assignments and get revising can be tough, but others can have the opposite problem. Throughout my time as a student I’ve really struggled to maintain a healthy work-life balance, and whilst working as much as I have has helped me keep on top of deadlines, it’s also taken its toll. This term I’m really trying to balance my time more effectively and wanted to share some of the tips and strategies that I’ll be keeping in mind over the next few weeks. If you also struggle with over-working, I hope these help!
Go somewhere you physically can’t revise
It sounds obvious, but getting as far away from your desk as you can is one of the most effective ways to take a proper break. Having some time away from your work space and being in an environment where you can be completely distracted (like the gym, the cinema or a restaurant) can really help if you’re feeling like your is productivity lagging.
Avoid your phone
If you find that the Google Docs app calls your name even when you’re away from your desk, turning your phone off can be the best way to properly disconnect from a work mentality. Apps which track and limit your screen time are also useful ways to remind yourself to give your brain (and eyes!) a rest.
Set smaller goals
Setting goals which are over ambitious can lead to an endless spiral of working long hours in a bid to reach targets which are just not reasonable. Setting smaller goals makes it easier to control how long you work for and being able to tick things off your list (no matter how small the task) serves as a satisfying reminder that you are making progress. Chipping away at your goals in manageable chunks is sure to be a more productive and positive approach.
I usually create a weekly timetable detailing what I’ll be working on during each section of the day, but I’m starting to realise that this might be doing more harm than good. Whilst being organized is an essential part of uni life (especially in Term 3!), I’ve found that planning my time in too much detail can be a draining and stressful process in itself. This week I’m hoping to make a new to-do list everyday so that I can take things day by day and try to accept that whatever I don’t accomplish will just be moved to the next day’s list. Although this might mean things are done later (and might not be an effective approach for everyone) I’m hoping that this will help me to be more flexible, give me space to be spontaneous and help me be more reasonable about the volume of tasks I’m trying to complete in day.
Make time to eat properly
Although stopping work to prepare food can feel time consuming, eating a decent meal is an essential part of maintaining your wellbeing during the exam period. Even if you make something quick like pasta or a microwave meal, it’s far better to have something substantial that to start substituting meals with snacks or skipping meal times altogether.
In addition to these practical steps, I’ve also been thinking about the anxieties that can fuel my tendency to over-work and I’m trying to reprogram my brain to think more positively. Seeking the support you need during this stressful time can have a huge impact on your revision and reaching out to someone can really help to ease your mind when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Warwick’s Wellbeing service are also running workshops on exam stress and balancing your time so there are plenty of opportunities to find strategies to help you cope better over the next few weeks. There’s always going to be a limit to how much you can realistically accomplish and however ‘productive’ you strive to be, your overall health and happiness should always come first.