The last year has introduced a variety of new challenges that nobody could have anticipated. The lack of social interaction to the technology intervention that has taken over our lives and forced everything from Friday night drinks to Monday morning lectures to be hosted online.
With over a year of lockdown and social distancing now under our belts, we have become old hats at distance learning and motivating ourselves – but that doesn’t mean it’s easy, especially with exam season pending and more than a few question marks about learning styles for the future remaining over our heads.
This article is designed to introduce a selection of productivity hacks that can help you to focus on yourself, enjoy an environment that is conducive to optimum learning, and ensure that you are mentally ready for exam season.
1. Use visualisation tools for learning and revision
Here at Caption-Ed, we are all about the power of visualisation, and the support of captions in helping you to follow along and understand lectures and videos. We believe that different people work and take in information in different ways, and so getting to know your optimum style of learning is key to ensuring you are supporting your brain in the most productive way. For some, simply listening is enough – for others, being able to read the words for themselves, and make their own notes, is key.
2. Create a plan for yourself
“Those who fail to plan, plan to…”
Well, we won’t go there. The fact is that without a plan, you are simply putting more pressure on yourself – and are likely to forget something along the way. Create a list of what you need to cover, make sure you know your exam dates and what you need to do in order to be prepared, and then formulate a realistic plan which will give you ample time to learn what you need in time.
3. Don’t starve yourself of breaks and downtime
Students and professionals alike have found that lockdown and working from home has created a blurring of the line between work time and downtime. When work is just a few steps away, it can be very easy to pick up your books and papers long after you would usually have left the library or the office, leading to overworking and exhaustion. With exam season pending, you may feel like the more study time you pack in the better, but the ultimate reality is that at some point, your brain will fry.
Factor breaks into your day and closes the door (literally) on your study and revision at night. Keep work in one room and try and avoid going in that room when you’re enjoying some free time.
4. Select the right learning environment for you
Following on from the last point, we understand that everyone is different and that some learn best in a vibrant and bustling environment while others need complete quiet. This is where it’s important to know what works for you and set yourself up with space that gives you the support you need.
5. Know the real deadline, then make your own (earlier!)
This is a top tip learned from some of the most successful individuals in the world, who will set their watch or clock so it’s always running a few minutes too fast – ensuring they are always early. If you can work your study around always being ready a day early, then you will have time to proofread coursework or test yourself one final time before the exam. Last-minute cramming rarely works – but being prepared early rarely fails.
6. Widen your learning
When it comes to study and revision, it can be very easy to simply pick up the book and memorise what you see on the page. However, there is real value in expanding your learning and personal study outside of the core topic, in order to immerse yourself and understand the topic better. For example, if you are studying a specific event in history for an exam, don’t you think it would pay to know a little more about what happened before that event, so that you can understand the motivations of those involved and why they did what they did?
You never know, a little extra knowledge can go a really long way in helping it all make sense.
7. Have conversations with your peers and your tutors
“Don’t be afraid to ask questions” is the age-old tip you will hear both in education and in later life around the workplace. However, it’s not all in the questions, it’s also about the discussions you have and the ideas and opinions you pick up from the others, which can bolster your own understanding of a topic and help you to see it from a different perspective.
8. Make revision and studying fun!
If you are always working from and reading from a bland sheet of lined paper, your mind will eventually stop showing an interest in what you’re studying. Instead, do what you can to make your own learning and revision fun.
- Create quizzes and ask family members to fire questions at you relating to your pending exam.
- Use colour-coded cards for different topics and subject areas.
- Highlight key points you need to remember.
- Create rhymes for yourself which will help you to remember an entire quote or important note.
9. Back up everything you do
There’s nothing worse than doing all the work and then losing it because something happened to your laptop. Make sure that everything you are working on is backed up on hard drives and even by simply emailing work to yourself so that there is always a recent version saved in your email app.
10. Stay calm!
The last year has been a challenge for everyone, and while endless organisations and businesses have created tools to support learning and help increase productivity (such as Caption-Ed and countless others), the fact remains that learning has never been more challenging. Now is the time to focus on yourself rather than what others are doing and what others know and find ways of boosting your own productivity.
Only you know what works best for you, so don’t be scared to employ and create your own study tools to help support your revision.
For more information on Caption.Ed and how we can bring videos and lectures to life with automatic captions, check out our website.