If you would like to ‘study smarter’ and not just harder, here are 4 tips for you to help improve your productivity and reduce your procrastination while still taking care of your mental health!

  1. Use a pomodoro timer – Cut out the unnecessary distractions and give yourself short mental breaks to make sure you don’t feel burnout!

    Pomodoro means “tomato” in Italian. You might be thinking – how is this vegetable going to make you study smarter? Well, the pomodoro technique allows you five-minutes of break time for every twenty-five minutes of study. When you are planning to do revision or study for your exams, don’t plunge in for an hour at one go.

    Instead consider splitting the hour like this:

    3.00pm to 3.25pmStudy
    3.25pm to 3.30pmDrink Break
    3.30pm  to 3.55pmContinue Studying
    3.55pm to 4.00pmWalk Break

    Each pomodoro timer (a kitchen timer) can be set for 25 minutes. You can use your own alarm clock or phone timers as well, but something that alerts you with a sound at the end, works better.
    If you study for more than two hours*, you can extend your break time to 15 to 30 minutes.

    3.00pm to 3.25pmStudy
    3.25pm to 3.30pmDrink Break
    3.30pm  to 3.55pmContinue Studying
    3.55pm to 4.00pmWalk Break
    4.00pm to 4.25pmContinue Studying
    4.25pm to 4.30pmSnack Break
    4.30pm to 5.00pmContinue Studying *Two hours of studying reached
    5.00pm to 5.15pm15min Break (Include an activity that helps you relax)
    5.15pm to 5.40pmContinue Studying
    5.40pm to 6.10pmDinner Break ….. and so on

    If Francesco Cirillo, the inventor of the pomodoro technique, could do it, you can too!

  2. Use visual timers – Visual timers are a useful way of managing your time if you have many things to do. In the exam hall, you will only be allowed to use an old-school digital watch or analog watch and are not allowed to use a smart watch. Therefore, it will be good if you start measuring the time you will need to finish your assignments or what exactly you are doing to finish the assignment using these devices.

    For example, you are given 50 minutes to do your writing. You took 40 min to plan, and are left with 10 minutes to write. If you use a visual timer, it would help you be more mindful of your time and manage it better.

  3. Learn to overcome procrastination – You might be sitting on a project or assignment for a long time and feel very overwhelmed. You might want to start breaking down the huge task into smaller and manageable ones and just take one step at a time. Before you know it, you would have completed the entire task!

    For instance, the completion of an essay can be broken down into:

    – read some sample essays
    – brainstorm for ideas
    – make notes and organise your information
    – create paragraphs using the points that you have organised per day until you finish your task
    – revise and finalise your draft on another day

    and you’re done!

  4. Demonstrate accountability for your tasks – You can share your list with your parent, sibling or best friend, who will help remind you of your deadlines and what you need to do. Do not multi-task as you are a human, not a robot. Focus on one task at a time and reward yourself when you complete each task.

Useful links:

How to do more in less time: Tips to help students who struggle with productivity and time management Part 1 

Written by:
iStudySmart™ Facilitators

Rosalyn Wee
Melody Chang Zi Xuan
Charis Chiong Zi Qi
Premadevi d/o Perumal


Published on 11 April 2023