9 Tips to Make You More Productive This Exam Season

Exam season is upon us, which means it’s time to break out our highlighters and textbooks to put the finishing touches on our grades. It’s hard to find a productive routine that'll get you in the mood to work all day, but hopefully, these tips can help you increase the amount of work you get done to prepare for finals!

  1. 1. Get inspired

    Every good study prep should start with a little bit of inspiration to get you in the mindset of being productive. One of my favorite ways to get inspired is by watching StudyTube videos. I know what you’re thinking…what in the world is that? StudyTube is a niche of YouTube videos where people film their study tips, study routines and university videos — it’s probably where most of my motivation to study comes from. Another great way to get inspired is to look at study Instagrams or productivity Pinterest posts. Seeing cute lecture notes or reading up on productivity tips is guaranteed to get you motivated to try them yourself.

  2. 2. Wake up an hour earlier

    I know it’s hard to wake up earlier when all you want is that extra hour of sleep, but during finals week it can be a lifesaver. If you start doing work earlier in the morning, you’ll feel more productive for the rest of the day! This doesn’t mean that you have to do work for school — you can use this time to knock out some smaller tasks, like making your bed or running to the store to grab more flashcards. Pro-tip: if anything can be done in less than two minutes, do it right away so that you don’t have to worry about it anymore! Once the clock hits the time you normally wake up, you’ll be amazed that you’ve already accomplished some of the things on your to-do list.

  3. 3. Get yourself into a productive mindset

    women doing exercises

    Before you start studying, you might find that you have no motivation to do just that: start. When you feel like this, it’s always good to do something less taxing, but still productive. Think about getting a quick workout in, doing some stretches or (my personal favorite) cleaning your room. When you get a bit of exercise in, you'll feel more awake and productive, and will be ready to work. If you clean your room, you have a spotless setting to study in with fewer distractions. Less clutter equals more focus.

  4. 4. Get fully ready for the day

    One of my biggest tips is to get actually ready for the day. Do whatever you need to do to make yourself feel and look productive. For me, this involves getting out of my usual uniform of running shorts and a T-shirt and putting on real clothes. Put on some makeup or do your hair a bit, and feel like the productive queen you are. When you look like you're getting stuff done, you’re more likely to sit down and do the work.

  5. 5. Find a change of scenery

    Studying in your room gets tedious. When you're in your room trying to study, your bed suddenly looks a lot comfier and your computer looks like an opportunity to watch Netflix or get lost on YouTube for hours. To avoid this, try spending some time studying in a different space, whether it be the library on campus, a coffee shop in town or a study room at your apartment complex. The change of scenery and having people working around you will make you feel more responsible to focus and get your work done.

  6. 6. Prepare a good study playlist

    A good study playlist is essential to my study routine. For many people, music might distract too much from focusing, but I recommend trying out music without lyrics! My favorites include classical, bilateral music and just generally any study playlist on Spotify. If you are looking for playlists to keep you focused, I suggest the “Intense Studying” playlist on Spotify, or my personal favorite, “hermione mode” by jasmineshao.

  7. 7. Try timetabling

    You’ve heard of to-do lists; now, it’s time for timetables. You’re probably thinking that this is way too hyper-organized, but sometimes that’s the kind of self-discipline you need. One of my biggest tips to timetabling is to literally schedule every minute of your day. When I say every minute, I mean it. Schedule everything — even your showers — just so you can check it off and feel accomplished. When you specifically set aside a certain amount of time to work on different assignments, you’re bound to feel motivated to get as much done as you can within that time frame. By the end of the day, you’ll have made so much progress in different classes, rather than just having spent all day trying to get one assignment done.

  8. 8. Turn studying into a game

    The app store. It’s a wonderful thing. Of course, when you are studying, it’s always best to avoid your phone, but hear me out. One of the best apps to use is Flora (a free version of the app Forest). This app is a Pomodoro timer that encourages you to put your phone down when you are studying by motivating you to grow your own little forest. By setting the timer for however long you wish and avoiding your phone for that amount of time, you plant a seed that will grow into a tree by the end of your study session. If you fail to stay off your phone, the growing tree will die, and won’t get added to your forest. It’s a fun way to stay focused, and helps keep you away from your phone when you need to get work done!

  9. 9. Take productive study breaks

    person sitting at the edge of a bed with an open book in their lap and a cup of coffee in hand

    When you want to take breaks but don’t want to get completely distracted, I suggest taking a “productive” break. Instead of watching YouTube or going on social media, read a book or check your email. Don’t let yourself get sucked into the Netflix hole — you’ll be in the “just one more episode” mode for the rest of the day.

All of these tips will hopefully ensure that you have a smooth but productive time preparing for finals. But ultimately, make sure to take care of yourself first and foremost. Always be sure to set aside enough time to get plenty of rest and do some self-care, whether it be hanging out with friends or making a nice dinner for yourself. You know what is best for you!