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What does decluttering have to do with test prep success?

The last year has not been easy. Zoom meeting after Zoom meeting can make it difficult to maintain momentum with your academic progress. Focusing too much on the big picture and worrying about the best exam prep strategy can be overwhelming. Weeks of prep, drilling multiple choice questions, completing countless free response samples, all with no end in sight… The hardest part can be simply finding it in yourself to get started.

One of the best ways to address this struggle is by setting small, achievable tasks and goals. This can help your wellbeing, reduce distractions, and ultimately give you headspace. These steps do not need to be momentous; actually, the simpler the better. Each small task you can complete offers a sense of achievement—feeling like you’re making progress early can often be a great motivating factor.

Here is an example list of small tasks that could help before you begin work; some of the tasks will only take 10 seconds!

  • Choose a work location with natural light
  • Open the window slightly to let fresh air in, if possible
  • Phone on mute/do not disturb
  • Ensure your laptop and surfaces are clean
  • Declutter your workspace (remove empty juice glasses, water bottles from your area of work etc.)
  • Declutter your browser 
  • We all have a bunch of interesting articles and webinars we would like to watch, and while this is well intentioned, many of us do not get through this long list. Now is the time to cut yourself some slack—you can use an app like Pocket to record bookmarks for the articles you actually want to read. Close all other tabs)
  • Add one photo/plant/flower to the workspace if you haven’t already
  • Write out a list of to-dos
  • Have a glass of water handy
  • Take a deep breath!

While these are no magic fix, they can help make the task at hand seem a little less daunting.  Once you are done, rejoice in the sense of achievement and move onto the next one. This momentum can help position you for success with your testing goals!

Bonus tip: Try and get a small walk (even 10 minutes) everyday in the fresh air.