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8 Revision Mistakes You May Have Been Making

8 Revision Mistakes You May Have Been Making

If you have an exam coming up, you may find that you are desperately short of time for some vital revision. This is the case for the majority of students and we have all been there. But there are some revision mistakes you can avoid making to ensure your revision is both effective and organized. Here are 8 revision mistakes to avoid and suggestions about what you should do instead.

1. You think that cramming will work

You may think that intensive revision during a long period of time will be effective. It is actually a waste of time and energy. Studying for long hours will tire your brain and there is no guarantee that you will remember the facts in the long term, although in the short term, you might. UCLA researchers have found that cutting back on sleep while studying for long periods of time results in academic performance being negatively affected.

The best thing to do is to build in short revision periods as you learn. This consistency will pay handsome dividends in the long term because it helps to move material from your short term memory into the long term memory. This will make the final revision so much easier.

2. You think that revising with friends is always a good idea

In many countries, studying and revising together with other students is very popular. It may work for some students but the fact is that each student has a different learning style. Some learners are visual learners while others do better with auditory material. Their timetables may not suit you and your capabilities are bound to be different. On the other hand, their perspectives on certain topics may help you discover different viewpoints.

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Group work is not always a good idea, but you can profit from it if you do it right. The Open University recommends that you try to teach others in your group what you have learned. It is a great way to test how well you have revised and how effectively you have mastered some concepts, ideas or facts. If you prefer revising alone and find other students’ presence off-putting and distracting, then opt to go solo.

3. You are not familiar with the exam tasks

Many students fail to study carefully the actual questions they may be asked. There may be open essay type questions, multiple choice options or discussion topics, depending on the subject matter. It is always a good idea to download past papers, so that you know what to expect when you get into the exam room.

This is an essential part of a revision plan because you will be focusing on what you actually have to do with the learned material on the day of the test. But you have to revise thoroughly. There is no point in simplay working through loads of past test papers, hoping you might get the same questions. Answering exam questions is not the same as memorizing and revising knowledge.

4. You do not make enough breaks

Some students never make proper breaks during their revision time. They go for hours and think that drinking coffee or even taking study stimulants will keep them going. This is not the best use of their time. Most experts now say that around 40/45 minutes is the ideal study time block. After that you should have a break by going for a walk or doing some stretching exercises or even relaxing with a computer game. Breaks should be about 10 minutes long. But again, remember that individual learning styles can vary.

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5. You are not getting the support you need

Many students fail to involve their family members or friends in a supportive way. They do not warn them that they should not be interrupted. They never bother to tell them that their final revision time is precious and that they need a proper diet, regular mealtimes, enough sleep and exercise. The most useful tactic is to get them all involved so that they know your timetable and also know why this exam is so important for you.

You can also ask them at certain times to give you a thorough test of your knowledge by getting them to interrogate you. Show them your notes and ask them to give you the third degree! This may work for you and it also involves your family much more.

6. You have not checked your optimal routine

Everybody says that you should study early in the morning when you are most alert. But this is not true for everyone. You need to make sure that your routine fits in well with your daily circadian rhythms or your sleep-wake cycle. The best solution is to actually find out what might be the best time to revise as some people actually perform better as the day wears on.

Do the BBC quiz here to make sure you are on the right track with your revision schedule. There are also useful revision timetable planners online. Find out about these and see whether they can help you if you have problems in getting your revision time organized.

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7. You underestimate the importance of physical exercise

A lot of students actually cut down their exercise regime while revising. This is the worst thing they can do. Your brain is tired but your body is not! In addition, the movement will improve your blood circulation and that means your brain will get more oxygen which will help to improve its performance during this critical time. Always go for a walk or run when your brain starts to get tired.

8. You do not test yourself on a regular basis

I know a lot of students who do not regularly test themselves on what they have learned and do not know whether they have really revised sufficiently. This is a big mistake as reading over notes again and again is just not enough. This is what Ed Cooke, the British memory champion, recommends.

He suggests that students should test themselves at intervals of say, 10 minutes after the first revision, then more tests an hour later and then after a day or two. This is the only way to ensure that the knowledge is stored in your long term memory.

If you avoid the above mistakes, you will be able to revise much more efficiently and save loads of time as well.

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Let us know in the comments what techniques you use to make your revision less painful.

Featured photo credit: 272/365 Outdoor Revision/Stuartpilbrow via flickr.com

More by this author

Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Published on January 16, 2019

How to Effectively Manage a Heavy Workload at Work

How to Effectively Manage a Heavy Workload at Work

We’re all busy, but sometimes we go through periods where the work piles up and it seems like it might never end.

You might have such a heavy workload that it feels too intimidating to even start.

You may have said yes to some or too many projects, and now you’re afraid you won’t be able to deliver.

That’s when you need to take a step back, take a deep breath, and start looking at what’s working and what’s not working.

Here’re 13 strategies you can use to get out from under your overwhelming workload:

1. Acknowledge You Can’t Do It All

Many of us have a tendency to think we can do more than we actually can. We take on more and more projects and responsibility and wear numerous hats.

We all have the opportunity to have and take on more work than we can reasonably expect to get done. Unfortunately, our workload is not static. Even now, while you are reading this article, I’m guessing that your inbox is filling up with fresh new tasks.

To make real, effective progress, you have to have both the courage and resourcefulness to say, “This is not working”. Acknowledge that you can’t do it all and look for better solutions.

At any given time in your life, there are likely many things that aren’t going according to plan. You have to be willing to be honest with yourself and those around you about what’s not working for you, both personally and professionally.

The more you exercise your ability to tell the truth about what’s working and what’s not working, the faster you’ll make progress.

2. Focus on Your Unique Strengths

Whether you’re an entrepreneur, a leader or working as part of a team, every individual has unique strengths they can bring to the table.

The challenge is that many people end up doing things that they’re simply not very good at.

In the pursuit of reaching your goals or delivering a project, people end up doing everything themselves or taking on things that don’t play to their unique strengths. This can result in frustration, overwhelm and overwork.

It can mean projects taking a lot longer to complete because of knowledge gaps, or simply not utilizing the unique strengths of other people you work with.

It is often not about how to complete this project more effectively but who can help deliver this project.

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So, what are your unique strengths that will ensure your workload is delivered more effectively? Here’re some questions to help you reflect:

  • Are you a great strategist?
  • Are you an effective planner?
  • Is Project Management your strength?
  • Is communication and bringing people together your strength?
  • Are you the ideas person?
  • Is Implementation your strength?

Think about how you can bring the biggest value to your work and the projects you undertake.

3. Use the Strengths of Your Team

One of the simplest ways to manage your workload effectively is to free up your time so you bring your highest level of energy, focus and strengths to each project.

Delegation or better teamwork is the solution.

Everyone has unique strengths. It’s essential to think teamwork rather than working in isolation to ensure projects can be completed effectively. Besides, every time you give away a task or project that doesn’t play to your unique strengths, you open up an opportunity to do something you’re more talented at. This will empower both yourself and those around you.

Rather than taking on all the responsibilities yourself, look at who you can work with to deliver the best results possible.

4. Take Time for Planning

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe”. – Abraham Lincoln

One hour of effective planning could save hours of time. Rather than just rushing in and getting started on projects, take the time to map everything in.

You can take the time to think about:

  • What’s the purpose of the project?
  • How Important is it?
  • When does it need to be delivered by?
  • What is the best result and worst result for this project?
  • What are the KPIs?
  • What does the project plan and key milestones look like?
  • Who is working on this project?
  • What is everyone’s responsibilities?
  • What tolerances can I add in?
  • What are the review stages?
  • What are the challenges we may face and the solutions for these challenges?

Having absolute clarity on the project, the project deliverables and the result you want can save a lot of time. It also gets you clear on the priorities and timelines, so you can block out the required amount of time to focus and concentrate.

5. Focus on Priorities

Not everything is a priority, although it can often feel, in the moment, that it is.

Whatever you’re working on, there is always the Most Urgent, Important or Most Valuable projects or tasks.

One tool you can use to maximize your productivity and focus on your biggest priorities is to use the Eisenhower Matrix. This strategic tool for taking action on the things that matter most is simple. You separate your actions based on four possibilities:

  1. Urgent and important (tasks you will do immediately).
  2. Important, but not urgent (tasks you will schedule to do later).
  3. Urgent, but not important (tasks you will delegate to someone else).
  4. Neither urgent nor important (tasks that you will eliminate).

James Clear has a great description on how to use the Eisenhower Matrix: How to be More Productive By Using the Eisenhower Box

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    The method I use with my coaching clients is to ask them to lay out their Top Five priorities for the day. Then to start with the most important priority first. At the end of the day, you review performance against these priorities.

    If you didn’t get everything accomplished, start the next day with your number one priority.

    If you are given additional task/projects during the day, then you will need to gauge their importance V the other priorities.

    6. Take Time Out

    To stay on top of a heavy workload, it’s important to take time out to rest and recuperate.

    If your energy levels are high and your mind and body is refreshed and alert, you are in more of a peak state to handle a heavy workload.

    Take time out of your day to go for a walk or get some exercise in. Leave early when possible and spend time with people who give you a lot of energy.

    In the background, it’s essential to get a good night’s sleep and eat healthily to sharpen the mind.

    Take a look at this article learn about The Importance of Scheduling Downtime.

    7. Maintain a Healthy Work-Life Balance

    Maintaining a healthy work-life balance can be tough. The balance we all crave is very different from one another.

    I’ve written before about 13 Work Life Balance Tips for a Happy and Productive Life. Working longer and harder doesn’t mean achieving more, especially if you have no time to spend with the people that matter most. The quality of who you are as a person, the relationships you have, the time you spend in work, deciding on what matters most is completely within your control.

    Work-life balance is about finding peace within yourself to be fully present, wherever you are, whether that be in the office or at home, right now. It’s about choosing what matters most and creating your own balanced life.

    If you feel there is not enough balance, then it may be time to make a change.

    8. Stop Multitasking

    Multi-tasking is a myth. Your brain simply can’t work effectively by doing more than one thing at a time—at least more than one thing that requires focused attention.

    So get your list of priorities (see earlier point), do the most important thing first, then move to the next item and work down your list.

    When you split your focus over a multitude of different areas, you can’t consistently deliver a high performance. You won’t be fully present on the one task or project at hand.

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    If you allocate blocked time and create firm boundaries for specific activities and commitments, you won’t feel so overwhelmed or overworked with everything you have to do.

    9. Work in Blocks of Time

    To keep your energy up to produce your best results it’s essential to take regular breaks.

    I use the 60-60-30 method myself and teach it to my coaching clients.

    Work on a project for a sustained period of 50 minutes.

    Then take a 10-minute break. This could be taking a walk, having a healthy snack or just having a conversation with someone.

    Then continue to work on the project for a further 50 minutes.

    Then take another 10-minute break.

    Then take a complete 30-minute break to unplug from the work. This could be time for a proper lunch, a quick bit of exercise, reading or having a walk.

    By simply taking some time out, your energy levels stay up, the quality of your work improves and you reduce the risk of becoming burned out.

    10. Get Rid of Distractions

    Make an estimation on how many times you are distracted during an average working day. Now take that number and multiply it by 25. According to Gloria Mark in her study on The Cost of Interrupted Work, it takes us an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to return to the original task after interruption.[1]

    “Our research has shown that attention distraction can lead to higher stress, a bad mood and lower productivity.”

    Distractions don’t just take up your time during the distraction, they can derail your mental progress and focus for almost 25 minutes. So, if you are distracted 5 times per day, you could be losing almost 2 hours every day of productive work and almost 10 hours every week.

    If you have an important project to work on, find a space where you won’t be distracted, or try doing this.

    11. Commit Focused Time to Smaller Tasks

    You know sometimes, you need to simply tackle these tasks and take action on them. But there’s always something more pressing.

    Small tasks can often get in the way of your most important projects. They sit there on your daily To Do list but are often forgotten about because of more important priorities or because they hold no interest for you. But they take up mental energy. They clutter your mind.

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    Commit to spending a specific period of time completing all the small tasks you have on your To Do list. It will give you peace of mind and the space to focus more on your bigger priorities.

    12. Take a Time Audit

    Do you know exactly where your time is going each day? Are you spending too long on certain projects and tasks to the detriment of bigger opportunities?

    Spend a bit of time to analyze where you are spending your time. This insight will amaze you and give you the clarity to start adjusting where you focus your time and on what projects.

    You can start by taking a piece of paper and creating three columns:

    Column A is Priority Work. Column B is Good Work. Column C is low value work or stuff.

    Each day, write down the project or task and the time spent on each. Allocate that time to one of the columns.

    At the end of the week, record the total time spent in each column.

    If you are spending far too much time on certain types of work, look to change things so your focused time is in Column B and C.

    13. Protect Your Confidence

    It is essential to protect our confidence to ensure we don’t get overwhelmed, stressed and lose belief.

    When you have confidence as a daily resource, you are in a better position to problem solve, learn quicker, respond to anything, adjust to anything, and achieve your biggest opportunities.

    Confidence gives you the ability to transform fear into focused and relaxed thinking, communication, and action. This is key to put your mind into a productive state.

    When confidence is high, you can clearly see the possibilities at hand and create strategies to take advantage of them, or to solve the challenges you face each day.

    Final Words

    A heavy workload can be tough to deal with and can cause stress, burnout and ongoing frustration.

    The key is to tackle it head on, rather than let it go on and compound the long-term effects. Hopefully, you can take action on at least one of these tips.

    If it gets too much, and negatively affects your physical and mental health, it may be time to talk to someone. Instead of dealing with it alone and staying unhappier, resentful and getting to a point where you simply can’t cope, you have to make a change for your own sanity.

    Featured photo credit: Hannah Wei via unsplash.com

    Reference

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