Refocusing your efforts

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During exam season, it can be a struggle to build and maintain momentum in the final weeks of preparation for the big exams.

Stress levels can be at an all-time high and while some stress can help keep you motivated and focused, too much can be unhelpful. Here we look at tactics and strategies to help you focus your efforts and build study resilience in the weeks ahead.

The Art of Distraction

With a mammoth task like exam preparation, it can be easy to fall into the trap of procrastination – we’ve all been there!  However, the more you procrastinate the worse you feel and the greater your anxiety might become.

The psychology profession outlines two types of procrastination – active and passive. Active procrastinators deliberately decide to procrastinate as they believe they work better under pressure. Whereas passive procrastination is seen as the more negative of the two where people are paralysed by indecision or lack of confidence, loading them with anxiety causing even further stress and inaction.

Passive procrastination is usually a sign of something bigger – performance anxiety, fear of failure or simply to avoid negative feelings.  At its core, procrastination is about emotions, not productivity. Therefore, it is important to identify the reason why you are procrastinating and try to address it.

There are ways to beat the procrastination bug if it’s really impacting your focus, here is where your study schedule and a reward system will come in handy. Blocking out chunks of time for study will help you concentrate on the task in hand. Don’t bite of more than you can chew either though, quick burst of 30-40 minutes study might work best for you to help keep your focus.

Reward yourself after completing a task whether that’s a quick cup of tea and a treat, a scroll through your social media or half an hour of your favourite show.

Tap into and regulate your emotions with mindfulness techniques, mediation or breathing exercises to better manage your feelings around studying and exams.

Time Management

Time management is key to exam success and helps you gain control. Use a day planner or a weekly schedule to help you determine your available time. Managing and mapping out your day can bring structure to your study without it feeling too overwhelming. However, be realistic with your schedule and don’t overload your day.

For maximum efficiency, determine and prioritise the subjects you find most difficult and focus on them first. Certain subjects may also warrant more study time than others. Get to know your body clock, there may be times throughout the day or week where you feel more alert or sluggish than usual and use these times to your advantage.

Track your progress and by the end of the week you will feel a sense of accomplishment with all the work you have done over the past few days, and it will help shape your schedule for the next week.

Most importantly, schedule time for relaxing activities and exercise too – your body and mind will thank you for it! Studies have shown that exercise improves cognitive performance so consider it as part of the exam preparation. Meet up or chat with friends and family to help you reset and have time away from work and study for some fun.

Think of the Bigger Picture!

When caught up in the stress of study and exams, it can be hard to motivate yourself and gain perspective on why you are actually doing it.

Studying to be a chartered accountant is challenging – the personal sacrifices you have made, the unattended social gatherings, the copious amounts of exams and years you have already put in etc. But if you look to your goals and the end game you can find the motivation to carry on. Think of why you decided to become an accountant in the first place, the career goals you want to achieve and where you want to be in a few years’ time.

These exams are leading up to something bigger and are a means to achieving your goal. By keeping this in mind, it can help you attain the self-discipline and encouragement you might need when you feel your efforts and motivation begin to wane.

Wishing you all the best for the weeks ahead. Happy Studying!

If you need more advice on preparing for your exams, Thrive has a dedicated student hub to help you navigate student life. Alternatively, you can contact the CA Support wellbeing team in confidence on mobile: (353) 86 024 3294 or by email: [email protected].

This article was first published by Chartered Accountants Ireland. You can read the original article here.