My biggest productivity hacks for the Leaving Cert

1. Go to bed and get up at the same time every day, even on weekends
Many of you asked how to be less tired during 6th year on Snapchat (six25points). The trick is to go to bed at the same time and get up at the same time every day - even on weekends. You know we're all tempted to stay up late on Friday and Saturday - and then going to bed on Sunday is a bit of a disaster where you can't fall asleep for ages? The other thing is - don't oversleep. Get 7-8 hours every night. It is very unlikely you need more than 8 hours. There is about 1% of the population who have a genetic mutation that allows them to sleep 4 hours a night and be perfectly fine, but they are just 1%, so don't try to be them if you're not. If you have an iPhone, it's become quite easy with the Bedtime feature. Just go into where you set your alarms and timers. There's a thing on the bottom row called Bedtime. Set it to 8 hours each night. You won't believe the difference it makes.

2. Do the hardest thing first
It's tempting to reach for the low-hanging fruit, but it's not going to get you results. Do the subject or task that you dread the most first. It will pay off. Having said that, start small or take the thinnest slice as they say - which brings me to my next point...

3. Lower your expectations
"This morning I'm going to go back through the papers and do every question on Respiration". Don't do that. Instead, try this: "I will find a one long question on Respiration and have a go at it. If I don't know something, I will look it up in my notes." Setting up high expectations will only make you feel bad when it doesn't work out. You are after small steady gains - they compound over time into great achievements. When I made my first YouTube video for this website, I had no idea how to do it. I said: "I will just get one out. The next one will be better." If I had tried to make a movie trailer... chances are there wouldn't be any videos done today.

4. Have a study plan, but don't be religious about it
A plan is just a plan - you can deviate from it. Most of all a plan gives you a sense of control - and with that comes motivation. It allows you to have visibility of what's left to get done - and keeps you honest. There is no need to clock in and clock out like it's a job. The environment you are in is already very structured with uniforms and bells, so don't insist on being even stricter with yourself.

5. Exercise
Do 20 minutes a day. I doubt I need to convince you of the benefits. It changes your brain chemistry. It's just the biggest investment into your physical and mental health.

6. Mindfulness
It is like exercise - only for your brain. It's not only great for someone who is stressed, but also one of the most potent treatments for a variety of mental health issues. Mindfulness changes the structure of your brain. On a day to day level it makes you more resilient and allows you to see the wood for the trees in any problems you are solving. How do you do it? Sit down, close you eyes, pay attention to your breath - without changing it. When thoughts come up, don't follow them, just let them pass by like cars on the road while you focus back on your breath - again and again. The best place to start is via guided meditations. I made a list of the best guided meditations for beginners here. Here are some beginner mistakes to avoid in mindfulness.

Written by Martina who got 8 A1s in her Leaving Cert.

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Find out more about the tactics of the top performers here: How to Do Well In The Leaving Cert


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