Lifestyle | How To Work Smart, Not Hard

Hello Lovelies! You've no doubt heard the phrase 'Work Smart, Not Hard' a million times by now - and if you're anything like me read and watched just about a billion different things in the pursuit of suddenly turning into a productivity Superwoman. Alas though, with the threat of procrastination, everyone's Kryptonite, this can sometimes seem like a nearly impossible feat. But don't you worry, I've got you covered - here are my best tips on how to work smart, not hard. Don't worry, we got this!

Look After Yourself 

When the revision season comes round, everyone suddenly seems to turn into walking zombies, abandoning their sleep schedules, hydration and any sense of regular eating habits. But if you really want to be as productive as you can, you need to look after that ol' brain of yours. So make sure you're drinking regularly (download the adorable app Plant Nanny if you need extra motivation), fuel up with some brain food and SLEEP. Trust me your brain will thank you. 

Give Yourself Breaks

Following on from my last point, looking after your mental health is so important and that's why you NEED breaks. If you don't give yourself breaks regularly then your brain will burn out and you'll probably end up procrastinating for a lot longer. I like to work for an hour, then give myself a five minute break, then give myself a break before I sleep (to stop myself stressing whilst I'm trying to sleep). Doing this means I sleep better, and I also get a lot more done, so don't be afraid to give yourself breaks - you deserve them! 

Try Out Apps

These days there are so many apps around that can help you with revising and staying productive, so if you've never tried one they are well worth a go. Here are two of my favourites: 

As a language student, Memrise is a complete lifesaver. It allows you to create your own courses online (of vocab, history dates, scientific terms etc...) and then it tests you on them, making sure to go over each word so you keep them in your long term memory. You can also download the app and use your courses on the go which is great if you're commuting or travelling a lot. I honestly couldn't recommend Memrise enough, it's such an effective learning tool!

This app was introduced to me by the lovely Fii, and it's safe to say I'm in love. The concept of the app is you plant a tree for an allocated time (up to 2 hours) and within this time you'll be unable to use your phone without killing your tree! And so as you revise, you start to build up your own pretty forest and you'd be surprised at how obsessed you can get. I introduced my friend Mazza to it and I've got so many texts from her saying 'Don't message me I don't want to kill my tree!!'. And as if building trees wasn't enough motivation, you can also collect points to buy cute new trees, or even save up enough points to plant a tree in real life! It does cost £1.49 but I definitely think it's worth it!

Set Achievable Goals

The key word here is achievable. If you're a fan of To Do lists then make sure you are setting yourself reasonable goals, because if you constantly set the bar too high, you'll find yourself trapped in a spiral of disappointment - which completely defeats the point of to do lists! Instead set yourself mini goals that you can check off throughout the day, and you'll find yourself feeling a lot more motivated. You could even try writing a Not To Do List, e.g 'Don't procrastinate on Facebook for an hour' to stay even more focused. 

Past Papers Are Your Holy Grail

Sometimes when I print off past papers, I swear I can hear angels singing because they are just such a God send. Think of past papers as the equivalent of when your teacher tries to subtly hint what's in the exams, you can learn an awful lot from them. They are riddled with hints and clues for what you should revise, and noticing the patterns between each past paper can really help you to revise efficiently rather than wasting time on things that hardly ever come up. I can tell you right now that every time I've revised for an exam using the past papers, the exam has gone much better than if I haven't. Also if you suffer from exam anxiety, getting a feel for what the paper is like and becoming more comfortable with it will really help to keep anxiety at bay.

Make Your Notes Pretty

Am I giving you an excuse to buy pretty stationery? Yup! If there's one thing I'm a big believer in it's pretty stationery. Having cute notebooks, sticky notes etc... will help to take away from the mundane nature of note taking. Also when writing your notes, make sure you switch things up and use different pens and colours. Not only does this stop your notes from becoming a dull sea of black or blue, but it's been proven to help your brain remember things, win win. Personally I'm a big believer in using the hell out of my highlighters. Bring on the highlighter apocalypse. 

Find What Works For You 

Let's think about Cinderella for a second. Remember when the evil step sisters try and force the glass slipper to fit? Well that's pretty much what it's like when you force yourself to use revision methods that don't work for you. Sure you may be able to walk, but it takes a lot more effort than is necessary, because the shoe just doesn't fit. The same applies to revision. You've just got to find a method that works for you, and is time effective. So don't be afraid to try out new methods if you've found yourself in a bit of a revision rut. After all, all our brains work differently so sometimes it's just a case of discovering what works for you. 

Keep to a Schedule

When I was at school, I can always remember the other girls boasting about how they were super organised and had already created their own revision timetables. I was not one of those people. In fact I always loathed the idea of pinning myself down to a timetable, it honestly just seemed a little suffocating at the time. But the reality is setting yourself to a schedule helps you stay a lot more focused, and is a great way to get your brain in the zone. So if you're not a fan of a rigid timetable, try giving yourself a vague one. For me I say I'll always start work at least by 1pm, and then always end the day at around 7pm. This helps me to have a sense of structure and to really get my revision done. 

Thank you for reading lovelies! I hope you've found some useful tips in this post, and if you have any of your own then please do hit me with them. Also if you have an app recommendations, hit me with those too because I love discovering new ones!


  1. This post is just what I needed! I'm in my exams period right now, and, well it's hard haha. Revising is pretty intense, so I agree with you about taking breaks and allow time to rest and sleep at night. The Forest app sounds just amazing, I'll have to take a closer look at it because I'd be hooked as well to keep my little tree alive :p

    Julia x
    Last post: my favourite nude nail polishes |

    1. You should definitely try it - it has worked wonders for so many of my friends :) x

  2. Ah this post is a breath of fresh air, really needed to read this. Currently going through a hectic time at university so I need any motivation to keep on going strong. Making my notes pretty is my favourite thing to do! It's always a good excuse to go out and buy more stationary aha.
    Lovely post girl! x
    Holly |

    1. Yeah I think so many of us are just in this hectic place at the moment and it's a bit of a nightmare! Glad you liked the post lovely! :) x

  3. Ahhh Vicky, this couldn't have come at a better time! Reading this post as procrastination from my essays due in on Tuesday. Nightmare! But there's some amazing stuff here x

    Martha Jane |

    1. Haha, god I know that feeling! I hope your essay goes well - you got this!

  4. I am not in school but I will be checking out Forest! I have noticed I am on my phone a lot and I really need to learn to break away from it and that app sounds perfect for me.

    Shireen | Reflection of Sanity

    1. Yeah, it is the perfect way to actually have a break from your phone as I feel like I'm always on mine and it's a little overwhelming!

  5. I have read lots of productivity posts and it's great to be reminded of these 'smart' tips. I really agree with taking care of self, having breaks and knowing what works for yourself. Super important ! ^_^
    ~Weng wengiful 

    1. Yeah definitely, you need to look after yourself first!

  6. I used to revise constantly for my a levels, I wouldn't give myself breaks, I just worked and worked and worked. I was stressed and poorly from all the work and anxiety, but that's how I revised, I got scared if I had a break I wouldn't do as good on my test. Those apps sound amazing as well, I'll definitely have to download them!
    Becky Shannon xx - Life-by-Becky


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