While we unfortunately can’t stop you from procrastinating (although we do have some tips on how to revise more effectively here, and how to timetable your revision here), we can help you to procrastinate more productively. The way that you spend your revision breaks and spare time really does affect the time you spend revising. These are our top tips to spend your time wisely, keep your brain engaged, and avoid accidentally watching 8 hours of Black Mirror and then crying about it.
Well, you have to eat! Cooking a meal from scratch rather than grabbing a ready meal is a great way to spend a revision break, and will probably mean you eat more healthily! Now, I’m not saying slow cook a leg of lamb and make a full-on roast that takes 8 hours; but cooking something quick and tasty is a great way to spend your lunch break.
Try and go for foods which are known to maximise your brainpower, as well as your energy levels. Think fish like salmon or tuna, with lots of fresh vegetables. However, don’t be afraid to indulge a bit - revision is a tough job after all!
We’ve all started frantically rearranging our desks when we hit a wall in revision, so why not use your time off to do something just as satisfying, that also actually improves your work space? And no, arranging all of your pens in colour order does not improve your workspace. Start by organising your work- it doesn’t take much brain power, but can massively aid your productivity when you get back to it. Knowing where all of your notes are is really useful when you need to go back over things. Scribbling on scraps of paper helps at the time, but not so much the day before the exam when there’s a concept you can’t get your head around and you’ve lost all your notes. As a bonus, stapling things together is really satisfying.
General cleaning and tidying can also be a good way to give your brain a rest - so wash up the dishes from that nice lunch you made yourself, or clear out your rucksack. Cleaning tasks are a great way to break up your revision as they let your mind have a rest, but still carry a little sense of achievement.
Explain the Concept to Someone Else
If someone on your course is struggling- that’s ideal - well, not for them... But, if not, ask if one of your other pals, or your dad, or if all else fails your cat, would mind learning about how oxygen in the air reaches the capillaries surrounding alveoli in the lungs. Pro tip- the cat can’t actually say “no”.
The act of explaining something is a great tool for getting your head around concepts, and making sure you actually remember them. It’s also a good way of expressing your thought process out loud, which is actually a really useful technique in itself, but sometimes talking to yourself can make you feel a little silly.
Make Your Revision Unnecessarily Aesthetically Pleasing
Ok, so this is textbook procrastination 101… And probably the least useful thing to make it on to this list. Although there’s no longer any real need for a handwritten timetable- there’s totally an app for that (check out our top picks here), for some people, drawing one out with a ruler and pencil will always be an essential part of the revision process.
If you’re going to make a timetable by hand make sure that you set a time limit as your colouring and stickers probably won’t be that useful in the long run. However, having a physical timetable where you can edit by hand and cross things off can help you organise your thoughts, and its super satisfying.
Do Something Creative
A big part of the revision process is just trying to keep your brain engaged, and not let it switch off completely! The key to doing this is variety - no one can focus on just one thing for that long. When actually revising, try and rotate your subjects. When taking breaks, a similar principle can be applied. If you’ve been revising maths and science-based subjects, try and do something totally different on your break. If you don’t feel up to taking up oil painting, try a grown-up colouring book, or reading a novel.
Do Some Puzzles
On the flip-side, if you’ve been trying to unpack a sonnet for hours, or researching historical paintings, try and do something to get the other side of your brain engaged. Brain-training apps are great for this, or just a good old sudoku puzzle. At the end of the day, almost all subjects actually require you to be both logical and creative, just in different ways, so it’s in your best interest to make sure all of your brain gets some exercise (it sounds more exhausting than it is, promise). Brain exercise = maximising your productivity capacity.
Browse Away, but Avoid Social Media
The second most of us take a break, we go straight for our phones. While I wouldn’t be cruel enough to suggest you don’t go on your phone during a break, social apps like Facebook and Instagram might not be the best idea. Scrolling endlessly through pictures of people having fun isn’t exactly going to cheer you up - and people bragging about how much revision they’ve done is even worse. Time also flies when you’re having a scroll, so your break feels really short, as well as unproductive.
Instead, if you fancy some scrolling, try and read some interesting articles - reading about something you’re interested in feels so much more productive than boring Facebook updates (just think how much fun you’re having reading this article right now).
Watch Something Short
Watching TV is another of the most popular procrastination past times. It’s totally understandable, when your brain feels a bit frazzled, to just want to passively watch a show, but be careful if you’re putting on Netflix during a revision break, 20 minutes can all too easily turn into 5 hours. If you are watching TV on your breaks, try and keep to something with short episode run-times - for example, a 20 minute episode of Friends. You’re not going to only watch half an episode of Stranger Things, I’m not sure anyone has ever only watched half an episode of Stranger Things, so don’t even try.
Revision breaks are also a great time to get into podcasts. There’s loads available to download for free, and a huge amount of variety, so there should be something that piques your interest. A benefit of podcasts is how easy they are to listen to on the move, so you can pop your headphones in, go for a walk and get some fresh air.
So go forth, and revise your socks off. Productively.
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- Getting Stuck Into Revision: 9 Techniques that Actually Work
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