Take Contro of Your Email

Be Productive with Rules in MS Outlook

Automatic Email Rules help you reduce manual filing and decision-making about what to do with your regular emails. Rules can be used to automatically File, Respond, Delete or Forward messages.

The rules are always turned on and run automatically.  So it is important to set the rule up, test it out and then trust it to work.

Also it is important to proactively check up on the automated action – i.e. if you auto file lower priority emails into a sub folder in your Inbox, make sure you check this folder occasionally.

Set up a New Rule in MS Outlook

You can either setup a Rule from scratch or use a pre-existing Rule Template.

  1. Setup a Rule from Scratch
  2. Choose RulesManage Rules & Alerts from the ribbon or choose the File tab and then choose Manage Rules & Alerts.
  3. In the Rules and Alertsdialog box, on the E-mail Rules tab, choose New Rule.
  4. Under Start from a blank rule chose either: a) Apply rule on messages I receive or b) Apply rule on messages I send
  5. Choose Next, and then go to Set conditions for a rule.

Set conditions for a rule

You can now add conditions to the rule. Based on the conditions you select, the options available to edit the rule description will vary.

  • Under Step 1: Select condition(s), select the check box for the condition you want to add. Note:You can select multiple check boxes.
  • Under Step 2: Edit the rule description (click an underlined value), choose a link, complete the required actions, and when done, choose OK.
  • Choose the next link, complete the required actions, and when done, choose OK.
  • If another link is available, choose it, complete the required actions, and when done, choose OK.
  • Choose Finishwhen done.

Set Up Rules Using an Outlook Rules Template

  1. Choose Rules, Manage Rules & Alerts from the ribbon or choose the File tab and then choose Manage Rules & Alerts.
  2. In the Rules and Alerts dialog box, on the E-mail Rules tab, choose New Rule.
  3. In the Rules Wizard, under Step 1: Select a template, pick one of the default templates under Stay Organized or Stay Up to Date.

Continue to create the rule as described above for a blank rule.


So be productive – make some changes so you can take control of your Email. Check out our other articles on Email management Be Productive – Use Smart Email Tools

When you make changes it can be hard to maintain them. If you find it hard, stop and ask yourself why you can’t maintain the change. Then tweak things to suit your work environment better. Best of luck! Let us know below how you get on.

Be Productive

Tips to Be Productive in 2018

Ever wish you had a Time Turner?

In the magical world of Harry Potter Hermione Granger used a Time Turner to turn back time. She created 3 extra hours a day to attend classes that ran concurrently allowing her to be productive and get more work done that everyone else.

Wouldn’t that be fantastic? Imagine your typical busy day. You have a plan but throughout the day lots of new thing crop up. At the end of the day you realise you hardly got to work on your planned tasks. No problem, just turn back the clock and get everything done!

But we don’t live in the magical world of Harry Potter, so we need “magical” strategies instead.

Take Control

In today’s hectic and distracted world it can be hard to stay in control of your day and be productive. The constant stream of messages, alerts and requests often cause us to work reactively. It can be frustrating. Most people make good plans and set clear goals but those plans can get side-lined as new requests and alerts arrive. Below we list 3 tips to be productive in 2018.

It can be useful to remind ourselves what we can actually control. We can proactively manage:

  • What we work on
  • How quickly we respond
  • What we prioritise
  • How often we check Email
  • Our energy levels and focus
  • Our mobile phone notifications

So if you decide to be more proactive and take control, here are 3 tips to be productive that will help you do it.

3 Tips To Be Productive

Tip 1 – Know Your Priorities

To maximise your use of time, it is important to know your priorities. Be clear about what is important for your company, your role, your clients and your targets. What are you trying to achieve; what are your long-term goals? Do some thinking and planning. Then set weekly goals and identify the tasks that will achieve these goals. Now you have your day-to-day priorities. Focus on achieving these tasks and protect your time by minimising your distractions.

Remember, if you don’t set your own priorities, someone else probably will.

 Tip 2 – Understand How You Work

The first step in CONTROLLING how you work is KNOWING how you work. Do you know what you end up working on each day? Do you know why? Are you clear about how you are prioritising your work?

You can gather this information by simply reflecting at the end of each day. Ask yourself:

  1. Did I stick to my plan?
  2. Did I end up working on unplanned things?
  3. Was the unplanned work more important?
  4. Did I make the correct decisions?
  5. What and/or who distracted me?

Consider what time of day you are most productive and when you concentrate best. Then plan the important work for these times.

Tip 3 – Control Your Distractions

Take steps to minimise your distractions now that you are aware of them. It may be phone calls, social media notifications, unimportant message alerts or other people’s requests.

We often let ourselves be distracted if it’s a welcome change from a tough (priority) task we are working on. And a change of task can refresh and help you regain focus. The challenge is to control the time you spend on the unplanned task by using a timer to remind you to tune back into your original plan.

To help minimise digital distractions you can do the following:

  • Analyse all the notifications you receive on your phone, tablet of PC.
  • Are you giving them all the same priority?
  • Are you letting a low priority Twitter interaction distract you as much as the alert for an important business Email?
  • Turn off notifications from low priority apps or Email accounts
  • Check Email at a set frequency, as often as you need to stay in touch for your role or business.

Be Productive in 2018

These changes may require a different way of working. It may not be possible to stick to it every day. But on a day that you have an important piece of work to complete and you need some deep-thinking time, take control and protect your precious time.

Try something new in the New Year and you have every chance of making 2018 your most productive year ever.

Stay productive by staying in touch with beproductive.ie  on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram  @beproductive_ie . And checking our website for regular articles and tips. We want to help you be productive all year round not just the first few weeks in January!

Happy New Year.

Be Productive

Be Productive – Finish 2017 with a Bang!

With two months left in 2017, it’s time to be productive, really focus and decide what you can still achieve by year end.

What are the key things you planned to do this year? Which ones have you not started? What is the most important thing to prioritise in the next 6 weeks?

Be Productive

With a little planning this can be your most productive time this year. Finish the year on a high and then move into 2018 feeling really positive and productive.

Identify Most Important Goal

Firstly evaluate any existing goals. Are they still important, still relevant? Which is the best one to focus on this year? Then ask yourself these questions:

  1. What will it look or feel like to achieve the goal?
  2. What work do I have to do?
  3. Do I need help or input from anyone else?

Make A Plan

Plan what you need to do by breaking your goal into smaller sub-goals. Brainstorm each sub-goal to list out the actual tasks required. This can be done simply with pen and paper or using post-it notes, flipcharts, etc.

Start looking at the tasks to see what can be done when. Are some tasks inter-related? Can you identify milestones or achievements along the way so you can tell you are still on track?

Map your tasks into each week in November and December using a planner like Microsoft Outlook. Alternatively use our beproductive.ie Q4 Planner template here.

Don’t over plan

Be realistic about how much time you have to work on your goal. You are probably already busy so where and when can you create “extra” time?

Build in some slippage because life will inevitably take over and throw some unexpected things at you.

Be practical. We can’t treat December like a normal month because of all the Christmas activities. So aim to finish your plan mid-December.

Measure & Track Progress

What will change when you achieve your goal? What will be new? Will you start doing something you haven’t done before? Identify some measurable targets and track these.

Capture the date you complete things to compare your Target Time with the Actual Time. If you miss a Target date does it have a knock-on effect on the remaining Targets? Readjust your plan as required.

Acknowledge What You Achieve

By prioritising and planning out your goal you have a higher chance of achieving it by end 2017. Celebrate if you do! And if all the work is not done I bet you still completed more than if you had no plan at all.

And because of your plan you know exactly what tasks are left so you are more likely to complete the work early in 2018.

Find What Works For You

Like all our productivity tips at beproductive.ie we recommend that you: 1) tweak our suggested approach to find what works best for you and 2) stretch yourself a little so you can achieve new things.

Have a productive end to 2017 and be sure to let us know how you get on.

Photo by Benjamin Davies on Unsplash

Be Productive

How to Be Productive in Q4 and Achieve Your Goals

With 3 months left in 2017 this is a great time to be productive. Decide what you can achieve in the time left. Is there a goal from the start of the year that you haven’t been able to start yet? Or maybe a new goal has emerged as the year progressed. You might have work goals or a personal goal or both.

How Productive Can You Be

Well it’s time to get focused, create a simple plan and make Quarter 4 your most productive period this year. How great would it feel to achieve something important and finish the year on a high? How well would that set you up for a productive 2018.

3 months is a good length of time to plan. Not too long to get demotivated but not too short to feel too much pressure.

Your Most Important Goal

First identify which goal you will work on. If it’s a goal you set at the start of the year evaluate if it is still important to you. Is it still relevant? Is it possible to achieve by end 2017?  If so then ask yourself the following questions:

  1. What will it look like or feel like to achieve this goal?
  2. What do I have to do to complete the goal?
  3. Can I break the goal down into sub-goals?
  4. Do I need help or input from anyone else?

Make A Plan

To help you plan what needs to be done break down the goal into smaller sub-goals. Brainstorm each sub-goal to list out the tangible tasks or actions required. You can do this on your own with a pen and paper or with a colleague using post-it notes or flipcharts, etc.

Once you have all your tasks, decide what can be done when. Are some tasks inter-related? Do some tasks depend on the completion of others? Can you identify milestones or achievements along the way so you can tell that you are on track?

Now using a 3 month calendar view map in when you aim to do your tasks. You can use Microsoft Outlook or Microsoft Excel or simply create a planner yourself on a chart or board. You can also check out our beproductive.ie Q4 Planner template here.

Measure Progress

You already thought about what achievement of your goal will look like or feel like. This g=helps you decide some measurable targets. What will change? What will be new? Will you start doing something you haven’t done before? Or maybe your goal involves not doing something you currently do!

Don’t over plan

When you are mapping out the work, be realistic about how much time you have. You are probably already busy so where and when can you create “extra” time?

Build in some slippage because life will inevitably throw some unexpected things at you. And if you miss some target dates you may become demotivated. It can work well to overestimate the task times initially to build momentum. Then as you see how things are going, revise the later task times to stretch yourself more.

Also be practical. The last month of Q4 is December and we can’t treat this like a normal month because of all the Christmas activities. So aim to finish your plan mid-December.

Leave a 5 day cushion at the end of your timeline with no tasks planned so you can complete anything that didn’t get done. Then if unexpected things crop up you will still have a chance of completing your overall goal on time.

Track Your Progress

By completing your plan you have actually completed your first milestone. Now you need to work through your tasks tracking your progress as you go. The easiest way is to capture the date you complete things so you can compare the Target Time with the Actual Time. If you miss a Target date does this have a knock-on effect on the remaining Targets? Readjust your plan as required.

With any goals and plans, whether personal or business ones, it can be really useful to tell someone else what you are doing. This can make you more committed to the work which can help on a day when your motivation might be low.

Celebrate What You Achieve

If you complete your tasks and ultimately your overall goal then celebrate! But if you haven’t finished by the end of Q4 don’t despair. Just think of the work you have done so far. This is likely to be a lot more than if you had no Q4 plan. And from your plan you know exactly the tasks that are left so you are more likely to complete out the work.

And you can also celebrate your skills in Project Management. If you have used the approach described here you have used classic Project Management and Project Planning technique. These techniques can be applied to any project large or small, business or personal.

Find What Works For You

Like all our productivity tips at beproductive.ie we recommend that you: 1) tweak our suggested approach to find what works best for your work and 2) stretch yourself a little so you can achieve new things.

Have a productive Q4 and be sure to let us know how you get on. And Contact Us if you want to talk about Productivity training.


Manage Your Distractions

Be Productive – Manage Your Distractions

beproductive.ie consultant Moira Dunne features again as Expert Adviser on the Microsoft blog. This month she gives advice on how to Be Productive – Manage Your Distractions. Click here to read the full article:


ManagE your Distractions

As a business owner you value every minute of every day and you know how to get things done. You can respond quickly to customer requests and solve new problems as they arise.

Today’s technology really helps us achieve this. Who could have imagined the flexibility we would possess in a small device that can fit in our pockets. So our working lives have changed but have we changed how we work to reflect this? How can we manage distractions?

Attention Management

We used to talk about time management but nowadays the discussion has switched to attention management. We are dealing with new circumstances that require new techniques and behaviours. This sounds daunting but with a few simple changes we can control what we work on, minimise distractions and make sure we are productive.

1. Take Control

The first step is to decide that you want to change. Are you prepared to do things differently? Will you be tough on yourself?

The key to taking control of your distractions is to know what they are. To gather some real data keep a Timelog for a few days or a week. This may sound like a laborious task but you will be amazed what you discover about where your time is spent.

2. Manage YOUR Distractions

Your data will probably show you that technology is not the only distraction, people are too. This can include clients, staff, colleagues and external callers.

Human Distractions

Let’s take people first.

They can distract us: 1) because of the noise they make, 2) because they sometimes offer a fun alternative to our current work or 3) because they ask us to do something we hadn’t planned.

Here are some tips to manage these distractions:

  • When you work in an open plan office, find a quiet place to focus on important work, a meeting room or an empty office
  • If you have your own office and operate an open-door policy for your team, occasionally ask not to be interrupted. If this doesn’t suit your company culture, spend some time working at home.
  • On occasion when you are asked to do new unplanned work, don’t always say yes. Negotiate based on your priorities and their priorities

Find the correct balance between saying yes and saying no. Use your judgement, always reassessing what is best for your business. But in the pursuit of high productivity, be careful not to damage your working relationships.

Digital Distractions

Technology can push information into our lives whether we want it or not. The list of things that demand our attention is long: social media alerts, Emails, phone calls, text messages. We know this but we feel we can’t stop it.

Today’s “always on” digital culture means we can end up working in a very reactive mode, allowing others dictate our work. We can turn these alerts off but it is often easier to leave them on. We are also inquisitive by nature and we have a fear of missing out if we are not in touch.

The trick is to be strategic. Don’t give all mobile alerts the same priority. Should a “like” on Twitter distract you as much as an Email from an important client?

When you need to really focus on a task switch off your phone or hide it out of sight so you won’t be tempted to check. You can’t always do this but there may be key times in your week when you can.

The term “digital detoxification” has been coined to describe this because it is not easy. So strike a balance – be switched on when you need to be and recognise the times when you don’t.

We have lots of great tips in other posts on how to manage your Email efficiently, click here to read more.

3. Manage Your Attention

Sometimes we feel unproductive even when we have created uninterrupted time to focus on important work. Our productivity is affected by our ability to concentrate. To maintain concentration and energy levels you need to be mindful of: 1) what you eat, 2) whether you take breaks and 3) how much you rest or sleep.

When we run our own business we often compromise these factors. But if you are aware of their impact on productivity it can motivate you to make small adjustments. Even a 15 minute walk at lunch time can help maintain focus for the afternoon. Choosing a reasonably healthy snack can help power through a tough meeting.

It is also important to recognise when you are losing focus so you can quickly get back on track. These pointers can help you develop this habit:

  1. Decide what you want to work on and for how long
  2. Use frequent checkpoints to see if you are still working to plan
  3. If not make a note of what has distracted you
  4. If possible eliminate that distraction so you can return to your plan

Be Productive

So be productive – manage your distractions. When you make changes it can be hard to stick at it. If you find it hard stop and ask yourself why you can’t maintain the change. Then tweak things to suit your work environment better. Best of luck! Let us know below how you get on.

Productivity Tips Business Owners

Productivity Tips Business Owners

As a business owner you are used to working hard. But is your hard work focused on the correct goals for your business? Are you clear about what your goals should be? And even with clear goals, how can you stick to those goals while responding to your customer’s needs? Read on to learn about our productivity tips business owners.

Productivity Tips for Business owners

The challenge is to work smart and be productive. There are simple but effective changes you can make to achieve this. So here are some ideas to get you started.

1)Decide You Want to Take Control

The first step in any change process is the commitment to do things differently. Aim to protect your time for productive work. Be prepared to challenge yourself and your team. This can mean saying no to enjoyable distractions like social media alerts. It can mean pushing yourself to spend more time on the tougher tasks you sometimes avoid.

2)Know Your Environment

And to optimise how you work you need to know how you work. Understand your environment, your challenges and your distractions. What work gets priority, which customers get the most attention, what response time is expected? What percentage of work can be anticipated and therefore planned? When do you work most productively? Is it the same time every day?

You can do this by simply reflecting at the end of each day. But by using a more structured approach, like keeping a TimeLog every day for a week, you can gain further insights. The data you gather will help you decide what needs to change to improve your productivity. Here is a link to our Be Productive TimeLog template.

3)Set Priorities for Your Business

To be truly productive, you need to be clear about what is important for your business. What are you trying to achieve; what are the priorities? Does everything link back to the overall vision and strategy?

By using the SMART approach to objective setting you can ensure that all planned work is specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timed. This can provide a purpose for every task list or project plan and clarity for everyone on your team. Read more about prioritising here.

4)Get Organised and Plan Your Week

Once you are clear about what needs to be done, develop a plan to achieve it. Have a yearly plan which feeds into the monthly, weekly and daily plans. Make your weekly plan on a Friday afternoon or first thing Monday morning. Use a “To Do” list if you find it useful but make sure it connects to your schedule so that tasks on the list are actioned and most importantly, completed.

Schedule the week using a structured approach that best suits your business and your customers. Different techniques such as batch working or timed working can help to maximise efficiency and productivity. Here is a link to our Be Productive Weekly Planner template.

5)Manage Email, Meetings and Distractions

Your TimeLog data will identify the activities that consume most time in your week.  Emails and meetings tend to be top of most lists while interruptions from colleagues can also eat into your time.

So here are some e-mail productivity tips to consider:

  • Working with email notification constantly switched on can result in the day being controlled by other people’s priorities. There will be days when you need to be constantly in touch. But ask yourself are there other days or time blocks when you can check your emails at planned intervals only.
  • Actively manage your meetings to increase the chance of productive outcomes by using a meeting process. This can include: 1) preparation beforehand, 2) use of a timed agenda during the meeting and 3) post meeting follow-up of actions agreed
  • Eliminate or reduce as many distractions as possible, even if sometimes those distractions are a welcome change from tougher tasks. But remember to be diplomatic when colleagues or clients are involved!

For more detailed advice on this check out our Email, Meetings & Managing Distractions productivity articles here:

Take Control of Your Inbox

Productive Meeting Skills

Tips to Maintain Your Focus

6)Develop New Skills and Techniques

Keep improving to make sure you stay productive in this ever changing world. Nowadays there are lots of free apps available that promote efficiency and collaboration such as Microsoft OneNote. Do some research or talk to colleagues and peers to get recommendations. Make sure you are using your desktop applications as efficiently as possible by learning relevant time-saving functionality and features.

7)Review, Analyse and Repeat

To maintain control of your time and sustain any improvement in productivity, it is important to review and analyse what you have achieved. Return to the Timelog to track what worked and what didn’t. Compare back to the baseline data you collected at the start. Improvements gained from protected blocks of time and fewer distractions can include: reduced email processing, shorter meeting times, higher task completion, increased output and productivity.

Be Productive

In conclusion, these business owner productivity tips won’t work every day or in every business. But I encourage you to take the ideas and develop improvements that will work for you. Send us some feedback in the Comments and keep checking this blog for more detailed articles over the coming months on many of the topics discussed above.

Be Productive Surprisingly Sunshine Can Help

Be Productive – The Sunshine Can Help!

Be Productive Surprisingly Sunshine Can Help

We are experiencing some fantastic weather this week in Ireland.  Here is a photo I took earlier at my local beach. The weather forecasters promise it’s going to last for a few days but in Ireland we are always a bit reluctant to believe them. The temptation is to down tools, stop work and get outside to make the most of it. Hopefully some of you have the flexibility to do that but many won’t be able to take time off at short notice.  But I bet you are already making plans to adjust your schedule so you can squeeze in some time to enjoy the sunshine. You may be getting up an hour earlier to take a walk on the beach, or starting earlier so you can finish early. Maybe you prefer to take a long lunch break and work later in the evening to allow for it.


But take a look at what’s happening.  Because you have a clear, tangible goal (i.e. get out into the sunshine) you much more ffocusedand productive while you are in work.  Have you set a deadline? Are you getting through more work in a shorter space of time? How are you achieving this?

Well a number of things may be happening:

  1. You are not allowing yourselves be distracted so easily
  2. You prioritise the items that are a real priority for today
  3. We take more control of our time and don’t let others distract us


And you know these are 3 great habits to use during a regular week (i.e. when it’s lashing rain and there is no rush to get home!!). Set a goal, decide a plan to achieve it, really focus when working on it, don’t let other people or things distract you and really enjoy yourself when you succeed. For more tips read our article on Planning & Prioritising in Business.

So what are you waiting for, stop reading articles online and get out into that sunshine! As ever please share any of your ideas, tips or tools in the Comments below.

If you would like further information on being productive or wish to book a Be Productive training session, please contact Moira or Ann on our Contact Form.

Take Control of Your Inbox

Be Productive – Take Control of Your Inbox

The Email Problem

It happens to us all. We arrive in the office and make a plan for the day. But first we check our email and the next thing we know its lunchtime. Sound familiar? Our intentions are good, “I’ll just clear some emails so I can really focus on my plan for the day”. But of course those messages keep arriving because most emails we send prompt a response.

Our email work may have cleared key items off our task list but it may not. That is the first problem – working on email this way is reactive rather than planned. We can become slaves to our email accounts and often end up working on other people’s priorities instead of our own.

The second problem is that unless we actively manage our emails they accumulate so that we end up with thousands in our Inbox. Important information can get lost and the constant arrival of new messages can result in missed deadlines or actions contained in previous messages.

New Approach to Email

So how can we develop some good email habits, take control and reduce some of that email management stress? The first step is to change the way we view our Inbox.

Reading email without making decisions is not a productive use of time. Email management requires a workflow and a process.  The Inbox should be viewed as a conveyer belt.  As new emails arrive aim to read them quickly so that a decision can be made on what action needs to be taken.

3 Steps to Take Control of Your Inbox

Then follow these three steps:

  1. Organise your Inbox
  2. Use a Process to Manage your Email
  3. Control When You Work on Email
  1. Organise Your Inbox

It is important to get organised before you adopt a new approach. Set up folders so you have a place to move your messages as you make decisions.  You can create Reference Folders for messages you wish to keep and Working folders for messages that require further action or follow up.

The Working Folders can include folders like Scheduled, Delegated or Awaiting Information. The Reference folders should reflect the way you work (i.e. key projects or customers). But don’t over complicate this, many people just work with one Reference or Archive folder and avail of the powerful Search and Sort functionality in Microsoft Outlook to find their messages.

  1. Use a Process to Manage your Email

Actively manage your emails as you read each one and decide what action is required. Then move each message to the correct folder. The process is Read, Decide and Move.

Read and Decide

Read the email quickly to decide whether it requires further action or not.


Then move the email as follows:

  1. No Further Action required – Delete it or File it

2) Further Action required – Do It, Task It or Pass It On

  1. Do It – If a response will takes 2 minutes or less
  2. Convert to a Task – If more than 2 minutes is estimated, schedule a task in your calendar or task list to complete at a later time
  3. Pass it On – Forward messages to others if the request is something you are unable to do or it is something you can delegate. Include your reasons for passing the message on.

Guidelines for Processing Email

  • Aim to process each email once only
  • Work through your messages systematically in the order they arrive
  • Don’t cherry pick the interesting ones as other important messages may get overlooked

 Control When You Work on Email

To do this you need to switch off your email notifications.  This can enhance productivity because every switch away from what you are working on to check an email interrupts focus. And it can take up to four minutes to regain that focus.  So if you eliminate even 15 email interruptions a day, you can gain an hour of focussed time. If you do this for a week, you can gain five extra hours.

That sounds fantastic but it can be hard to work without ongoing email alerts or checks. We can feel uncomfortable because we are used to being in touch. In fact our work environment and culture may demand it. But use your judgement. Are there routine days when you could try this new approach even for specific blocks of time?

3 times a day works well for lots of people. Spend 15 minutes maximum checking first thing in the morning. Then schedule time to process your email before lunch and again towards the end of the day.  If that doesn’t seem frequent enough, add in a short timed mid-morning and mid-afternoon check.


When you introduce a change to your work practice it is important to measure any improvement. So before you start, track how much time you spend managing your email. Then try your new approach for 30 days and measure your email management time again. Try also to note improved productivity due to the reduced distraction from email.

 Don’t Stop There

Once you have reduced your email management time you can further increase your productivity by using email tools and techniques available in Microsoft Outlook such as:

  1. Rules to Reduce Decisions and Filing
  2. Colour Coding and Flags to Prioritise
  3. Auto text and Templates to automate routine text entry
  4. Purposeful Actions and Subject lines

Here is the link to our article about these topics – Smart Email Tools

Be Productive

These tips may not suit everyone’s style or every work place. But be productive, take the ideas and modify them to suit your own environment. Let me know how it goes and of course I would love to hear any other techniques and tips that have worked for you.


Be Productive – 8 Exam Study Tips

Exam Study Tips

The Leaving Certificate and Junior Certificate exams are nearly here. The exam students will soon finish school and start studying on their own. This is a really important time that has a big impact on how well the exams  will go in June. But it can be hard to stay focused and keep concentrating day after day. Successful students have good study habits. Here are 8 top exam study tips on how to be productive while studying.

  1. Declutter Your Study Space

Your study space should be quiet, bright and comfortable. It should make you feel happy and inspired. Decide the best space in your house that will work for you. Then clear out as much clutter as possible. Decorate your space with a few of your favourite pictures or objects. Make sure that your chair and desk are comfortable and at the correct height as you will be spending a lot of time here.

  1. Get Organised Before You Start

Gather up all the stationery you are going to need over the coming weeks. Avoid wasting time popping into the shops during your study periods. Treat yourself to some new pens, notebooks, cue cards, Post-It pads and highlighter pens. Chose a variety of bright colours to liven up your study space. These colours will also be useful for categorising and grouping topics while you study.

  1. Make a Study Plan You Can Stick To

It is so important to make a plan before you start any studying. Work out how many days you have before the exams start. Plan which subjects you will study on each day. Vary things up so you don’t get fed up of one subject. Break down big topics into smaller chunks so you feel you are getting something completed in one study session.

Be realistic about how much you can do in the time you have. If there is too much, you may need to focus on the most important topics first. List everything and mark each with a priority – high, medium or low.

  1. Start Early in The Day

You have your preparation done, so now you are ready to start a regular study routine. Generally it works best to start studying early in the day. Your energy will be high and it is easier to concentrate. If it helps, get some exercise beforehand but don’t spend too long in case you become side-tracked.

Some people prefer to study later in the day and into the evening. This is fine but remember it can really affect your quality of sleep, which will have a knock on effect for the days to come.

  1. Put Distractions in Another Room

My 15 year old daughter told me to include this one! She said that if her phone is beside her, even on silent, she will be tempted to check it. So remove ANYTHING that will distract you. That may include technology and people! Music may help you study but be honest with yourself and only listen if it improves your concentration.

  1. Make Notes and Test Yourself

Be active when you are studying. This means instead of just reading you are keeping your brain focussed by doing things such as:

  • Highlighting key passages
  • Making notes to summarise key points
  • Making signs for your wall with key terminology or phrases
  • Drawing a graphic for a Maths equation
  • Creating quick reference notes on cue cards for the night before the exam
  • Jotting down questions to test yourself at the end of a session or to recap next day

Can you think of some other ideas that will suit the way you work?

  1. Eat Power Foods and Drink Water

Be smart about what you eat and drink during this study period. It may be tempting to eat comfort food and reward yourself with sugary or fatty snacks. But your focus and concentration is really affected by what you eat. You will also sleep better if you eat a healthy diet. Drink lots of water too during this time.

Try some of these  healthy snack ideas:

  • Blueberries, Dark Chocolate, Popcorn, Hummus, Avocado
  • Peanut Power Balls, Granola Snack Bars

Save your favourite treats for your time off after studying.

  1. Take Time Off and Sleep Well

Aim to study at the same time every day and then take breaks at the same time too. Plan your favourite activities with friends and family so you can completely switch off. This will help you wind down and sleep better. Get some exercise too.

Your Own Ideas

These tips will help you be productive with your study time. You might already have things that help you. Find what works for you and stick to it.

Remember, you only have to work hard for a few more weeks. So why not really go for it? And before you know it, the exams will be over and you will have the whole summer to enjoy. Best of luck!

If you want a Be Productive Infographic of these  8 Study tips click below:

Be Productive – 8 Study Tips Infographic

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