Sometimes you just have to work a little harder. The trick, I think, is to work as smart as possible, maximize the results and get everything done on time and to the highest standards. That might be easier said than done, as the old saying goes. Still, I am an optimist, so every day I review my calendar to decide what must be completed today and outline the best way to get it done. For me the most difficult things are switching from one task to another, making sure all of my library materials are on hand when I need them, and getting to bed early enough to wake up refreshed and ready to go at four o’clock in the morning. With three weeks until my first exam now is the time to set a few lofty and inflexible goals.
First, may I please indulge in a little whinge regarding library materials. My local, most convenient, library is not an academic library. They are very helpful about having books delivered from other libraries all over the area, and all that service comes with no fees, but availability and timing are difficult. It seems like my materials are always due back at the library exactly when I need them the most! Sometimes one good reference book can be tremendously useful. My plan is, if they are reasonably priced, I just buy them. The real savings is my reduced anxiety and grief about effective study. Yes, you guessed it – I did some book shopping this morning to be sure I have the texts I need to revise on hand during exams.
Because my professional schedule is more challenging this year I work on ways to pack what I need to do into every day. For me, it is not easy to switch from concentrating on work to concentrating on study. It works well to have a short walk with Jelly Bean and maybe a yoga break in between work and study. Normally I like some vigorous exercise in between, but longer exercise periods are one thing that suffers as exam revision intensifies. For now, the strategy is to alternate days with three mini exercise breaks and one longer, more vigorous exercise routine.
A bit of exercise works great to refresh my concentration and separate the workday from study time. Maybe it works too well because, once I start studying, I do not want to stop even as the hours tick past. Getting up quite early is the best revising strategy, but for some reason, three or four hours of sleep are not enough to function at peak performance these days. It has been very difficult to get into the early morning routine this year since my working hours run longer and study time begins later.
For me, establishing my exam routine now will be very helpful during the actual exam process. My professional responsibilities are not flexible, so other adjustments must be made. The idea of working harder is motivating, and I think I have a good plan to get the best results from my efforts. For the next six weeks, from now through my last exam, I am raising the bar for productivity and accomplishment.
Caowrites is studying the BA English by distance learning with the University of London International Programmes. She lives in Pittsburgh in the United States.