It’s my favourite (bleugh) time of the year again – exams! Yay! It hits me every time. Hard. Now I have four more weeks and eight exams to go. Seems impossible to me. I always solemnly swear that next semester everything will be different, somehow it never is. There’s just so much on my plate all the time, studying, lots of work, blogging, my animal friends and that itsy bitsy me-time I try to enjoy once in a while. But actually I feel like I’m doing a little bit better right now.
Here is what changed and how I got more productive:
1. Get enough sleep
Whenever possible – and honestly, it’s possible most of the time – I figure out when I have to wake up the next morning and count back to when I have to go to bed so I get my full eight hours of sleep. Then I will go to bed nine hours before, leaving the desk no matter what, and read a (fun!) book. Not reading always leaves me depressed and sleep deprivation is turning me into a full grown psycho. Also usually I don’t get much done late at night, so I’m really just using that time in a more positive way.
2. Rationally weed out your calendar and try to plan ahead
Use a calendar, it doesn’t matter if it’s in your phone or in your bag, and use it regularly and for everything. I tend to write down for at least two weeks in advance when I plan to study, work, blog or even go shopping. If you for example don’t note down when you have to study and someone asks you if you’re free that day, you run at risk of forgetting to leave room for that. Of course you need to spend some casual time with your friends and family, but you should be willing to minimise that. And be rational about it. A coffee in the afternoon won’t hurt, it probably will even be a welcome and much needed break from studying. Going for drinks at night on the other hand might either disturb your whole schedule (hangover) or leave you unsatisfied (you’re the only one leaving that early).
3. Stay healthy
Make sure you get enough fresh air, eat healthy and exercise regularly. It’s so much easier to stay focused when you treat your body right. Leave your desk every few hours for a walk around the block, some yoga or a healthy snack. Timmi (the dog) is making this pretty easy for me, since he has to get out every few hours. It’s so important to walk away from your books and clear your head at regular intervals. Even though we tend to ‘treat’ ourselves with unhealthy snacks during that phase I strongly urge you to not give in. Rather keep your pantry stocked with healthy and fueling food like fruit, nuts and granola bars. A healthy smoothie (like this one) literally takes only a few minutes to prepare and keeps you full for hours!
Here is an example for a Green Smoothie I enjoy very much. In order to minimise preparation time you should keep your freezer stocked with frozen fruit, at least bananas. I also like to keep some chia gel in my fridge. Turning your chia seeds into gel enhances both the nutrition factor and creaminess of your smoothie. If you forgot or have the time anyways, you can also just soak the seeds for ten minutes right before preparing the smoothie. Use any greens you like, for example baby spinach, bok choy, kale or lettuce. Just get creative with your smoothie, there is really not much you could do wrong.
This combination keeps me energised, full and nourished in stressful times and I hope it will do the same to you. And now I have to put away my laptop and go to bed, even though I’m not really done yet… how I love my new schedule! Book and bed, I’m coming!
1 ripe banana, frozen
1 ripe mango, frozen or fresh
1 handfull baby chard
10 fresh mint leaves
1 medjoul date
1 cup almond milk
2 tablespoon chia gel
1 teaspoon hemp seeds
Combine all the ingredients in your high speed blender and mix until creamy. Add more liquid if needed.