A+ Results: How Revision Techniques Can Boost Your Professional Routine

Remember that feeling of cramming before an exam? You’re suddenly able to focus completely for extended amounts of time – it’s like your brain switches into a higher mode. Although no one loves test stress, harnessing the short and long-term skills of revising can actually help you in your professional life. Follow these productivity hacks learnt from students at Cambridge University.


Revision technique 1: Have a timetable

The first step to acing exams is planning your time well. This can help you in your goals too. But just as a student shouldn’t waste their time making a beautiful, multicoloured timetable only to find they’ve missed something out, you should prioritise streamlining tasks.

Give your tasks deadlines. These might already be enforced from a boss or project. However, if your goals are self-imposed, it’s vital to hold yourself accountable to progress. Think about realistic timelines, and mark these out – in pen – on a calendar. Achieving these steps will help you stay motivated and on track.

Have a monthly, weekly, and daily plan. Make a habit of keeping task lists for short and long-term goals. Set aside 10 minutes each day to keep these up to date, either the night or morning before. Remember to break down your goals into actionable tasks , prioritise what needs to get done, and estimate the amount of time each will take.

Schedule in breaks. You are not a robot – your brain cannot function without breaks. To avoid frustration when tasks take longer than estimated, factor in buffers. You can still be productive on your breaks: do some exercise, meditate, listen to a podcast, or talk to a friend or colleague about an idea. You’ll find problem are solved more easily this way.


Revision technique 2: Sleep

Studies repeatedly indicate that consistent and deep sleep is essential for us to function: adults should aim for 8 hours. This might seem like a lot, especially as one of the most common symptoms of a busy work life is difficulty sleeping. Here are some tips learnt by top students to help combat stress-induced insomnia.

Avoid caffeine after 6pm, however tempting it may be. Drink decaf for the placebo, or try herbal and green teas if you can’t be without a hot drink.

If any of your devices are switched on, you won’t be able to switch off. The blue light that digital screens emit also messes with your body clock, as it tricks your brain into thinking it is day time. Many of our jobs are screen-heavy, which contributes to finding it difficult to sleep. However, you can help yourself in a few easy ways:

Avoid screen-work an hour before sleeping. If you are in a particularly busy season and feel you need to be being productive right up until sleep, schedule in reading through paper notes, or planning your next day.
Once you’re in bed, put your mobile on aeroplane mode – even if you can’t sleep, don’t let yourself switch the wifi back on. Get out of the habit of late-night scrolling and you will help yourself by numbing that impulse for immediate gratification.
Download a blue screen filter for your laptop and mobile. These can help with insomnia and eye strain by automatically changing the tint of your screen display. There are several free and paid options available.

Revision technique 3: Find ways to stay positive

In the workplace as in the student library, it can often feel that you have to be working at 100% every hour of the day. However, it is important to be able to stay positive to be productive (and satisfied!) Everyone’s workplaces are different, but here are some suggestions of small changes you can make to have a more optimistic and relaxed state of mind:

Are you able to personalise your workspace? Try adding a flower, a picture of loved ones, or mementos that remind you of when you felt relaxed and positive. These will have a calming influence and remind you that you are not a robot.

Make yourself a healthy work lunch. If you bring food to work (a good idea to save money and have more control over your diet) then try mixing up what you eat. It’s easy to prepare a protein packed salad instead of a sandwich, or make a smoothie to have as an afternoon energy boost.

Gratefulness. Even in the most stressful of times, it is encouraging to remember the things you are grateful for in your life. Are you in the career you always wanted to be in? Do you have wonderful colleagues? Are you in good health? Do you have a good support network of friends or family? Is the weather simply lovely today? Keep a note of a few things each day – however big or small – that you are grateful for, and you will be amazed at how much more optimistic it will make you about everything.

Talk to your friends and family. If you are feeling overworked, stressed or demotivated, tell someone you trust. Talking through the problem can help you to identify the best ways to proceed, and the people who care about you will want to be part of helping you however they can. You are never alone!

Ask yourself: what was the most useful revision technique you learnt in the past? How might they help you now?

Photo courtesy of pixabay
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