Ask LH: How Can I Avoid Study Burnout?

Ask LH: How Can I Avoid Study Burnout?

Dear Lifehacker, As a high school student in year 11, I’ve recently been studying for my exams. As usual, I study for seven exams and start studying for them three weeks before the exam period starts. I’m now coming towards the end of the two-week exam period with just two exams left, and I’m finding it impossible to study any further because I’m completely burnt out and fed up with studying.

I usually burn out when the exam period starts (after three weeks of studying), and it just get worse and worse and I find procrastination goes up heaps (I’m even doing it now by writing to you!) How do I avoid burnout in the future, and how do I deal with it when it does happen? Thanks, Burnt Out Student

Study picture from Shutterstock

Dear BOS,

Although it’s been a long time since I’ve had to sit an exam, I sympathise with your plight fully. I too found it difficult to concentrate during the dreaded test weeks and often allowed my mind to wander away from the notes on my desk. Before I knew it, it’d be time for bed with barely any study done.

The best way to avoid burnout is to formulate a less intensive study program earlier in the school year. Instead of cramming in the lead-up to a test, stick to a regular timetable from the very beginning of term and be sure to include plenty of breaks to avoid burnout.

While it’s hard to stay disciplined all year, this will translate to less work, stress and physical exhaustion in the long run. (i.e. — Instead of desperately trying to absorb everything a few weeks before the test, you can use this time to bone up on specific knowledge areas.)

Enlisting a friend to be your study partner can also be a big help, both in terms of learning and motivation. However, the temptation to slack off also increases with a friend in tow, so try to avoid gossip hounds. Naturally, the main thing to remember is to recharge your batteries. It’s essential to relax and switch your mind off a few times each day — just don’t make it a compulsive habit.

You can also check out our guide to maximising exam performance and advice on how to deal with HSC stress. Hope this helps!

Do any high schoolers or teachers have some study tips of their own? Share your advice in the comments section below.


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  • I’ve been at uni for 7 years now, and burnout is a serious problem for me.
    If you can stay on top of things during semester it certainly helps.
    Allocate yourself some exercise time every day (it will only eat into your wasted time, not your productive time).
    Try to give some time each day to something calming and soothing, like reading a book, even if you can only manage 20 minutes before sleeping.
    After exams give yourself a good 1-2 weeks of pure relaxation and slacking off,, with plenty of sleeping in, to recover.

    I seem to behaving a lot of trouble getting guest comments published – hopefully this works….

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