How to Learn Part 2: Making a Plan of Action
Written by Emma Burbidge Posted in Education and Learning
Making a plan of action while you are learning can really help you to stay focused and on target. Revising everything you have done all year may seem like an impossible task, but if you divide your revision into topic headings, and then subtopics within those, then you will find everything else much easier. You can then place file dividers to separate your revision into manageable chunks, and you know which topic is lacking notes and therefore requires more reading/work.
If you are the type of person who finds it really hard to motivate yourself to work, then you need to devise a strict revision plan and do everything within your power to make sure you stick to it.
Creating a revision plan
Not everyone is a morning person, however studying is said to be much easier in the morning and it can really help to keep you motivated throughout the day if you start at 9am rather than 3pm. If you get up and work, then it is easier to motivate yourself than if you got up and then started studying when most of the day has already passed. This will nearly always result in you losing focus entirely and not sticking to your revision plan.
Also, make sure you do not spend the entire time revising one thing as you will simply get bored. Instead, try to build into your plan a combination of topics from a variety of different subjects. Avoid spreading yourself too widely or too thinly.
Divide your time into 20-25 minute chunks with a 5-10 minute break.
Use these breaks to step away from your desk entirely, go for a short walk, play with the dog, listen to some music, do a little bit of exercise (so long as it doesn’t tire you out) and then once you have finished your break do another 20-25 minutes.
At the end of a structured working day, make sure that you take time out from your work. You can go out with your mates, watch TV, go for a run etc.
Also ensure you get a good night’s sleep, as if you only get a small amount of sleep then your brain has to work a lot harder in order to function effectively. Try to get 8-9 hours of sleep a night if possible.
Try to find a quiet place to study. This could be problematic if you share a bedroom with other people. If this is a problem for you, then you can try to find a quiet space in your local library in which to work. Ask other people in your house to respect your privacy and need to work, so that you can concentrate on studying.
If things like Facebook or Twitter pose a distraction, then you can temporarily suspend your account until after your exams are over, so long as you return to your account within a month you won’t lose any of your precious photos.
Alternatively, you can ask someone you trust to change your Facebook password and not tell you until after your exams.
If your phone poses a distraction, then you can switch it off during the day and leave it in a cupboard or bag, rather than keeping it on your desk.
Some people like to listen to music while they are revising, while for others it can pose a distraction. If you are listening to music, your brain might end up multitasking, so try to listen to music that you are familiar with and which is uplifting rather than sad.
Having the television on is generally a bad idea as you will end up focusing on the show and none of the information you are reading will actually go in, leading you to forget the information more quickly. Instead, you should try to clear your mind by taking deep breaths if you ever feel stressed or panicky.
Avoid snacking on foods high in sugar or salt. It may give you a rush of energy but this will eventually lead to a lack of concentration and you will just end up feeling more tired. Instead, focus on “slow release” carbohydrates which also give you a release of serotonin which makes you feel happy and more alert.
If you are an aural or verbal/linguistic learner then you may benefit from working as part of a group. However, it can be easy in these situations to steer off topic and start mucking around, so be careful.
If you are a logical or visual learner then you may prefer to work on your own. This is fine, so long as you are revising in a way that you feel comfortable with and that suits your learning style.