Smart phones are awesome. They are an integral part of our day to day lives. But now that exam season is upon us they also become an integral challenge. How does a student all of a sudden put a stop to a habit which otherwise consumes the vast majority of their time?
Press home button. Enter passcode. Open App. Tap, tap, tap, repeat.
It's a habit, a routine, a ritual. Sometimes we don't even realise we're doing it - it's automated.
I give workshops to school pupils about the 'modern' issues surrounding exam preparation and performance. The desire to do this came out of my own frustration at 'study skills companies' telling me I need to plan my work, take regular breaks and make sure I sleep enough. I knew I needed to do all that, anyone with half a brain does...
What I didn't know was how to concentrate, get motivated and perform well in an environment choc-a-block with distraction and temptation. Young people are faced with this challenge everyday. Do they opt for instant gratification? Or do they adopt a more sensible, rational, long term approach. The difficulty of this challenge has increased since I left school and will continue to do so as long as technology continues to make our lives easier.
In this post I'll share with you some precautionary measures any student can put in place to keep their smart phone from making them look anything but smart in the exam room.
1. Move social apps to the back page
Yes, that's right, those apps occupying the top spots on your phone, move them to the back page. It's just too risky to let Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat have first dibs on your attention during exam time. They'll lure you in with one of those tempting red notification icons. If that doesn't work they'll find a reason to notify you about something else. As the number inside that red notification icon rises so does the likelihood of you giving it a tap.
Just one tap won't hurt anybody right? But the taps add up. I always thought the colour red mean't stop, danger or 'if you do this too much you will not pass your exams'...
The first step is to make it difficult for yourself to begin the habit. If in doubt, go hardline, delete them. Yes, I said it. It will feel as if you've disappeared off the face of the earth but your exam results will sky rocket.
2. Download every revision app you can find and put them on the front page
So...What are you going to replace all the dead space with?
Free revision apps will do the trick. Download every free revision app, note taking tool, calendar and planner you can find and fill the blank space on the first page. It doesn't even matter if you intend to use them. The real reason for doing this is so that, if you do start tapping, the first thing you see is a stark reminder of what you are meant to be doing - revising!
If you like using revision apps full steam ahead. If you don't, put the phone down and get writing.
3. Buy a watch (or use a time keeping device which is not your phone)
There's no school like the old school. Buy a watch or use a time keeping device other than your phone. Students tell the the time by glancing at their smart phones and this plays right into the hands of the tapping habit. Before you know it checking the time has turned into a quick text message, watching a couple of Snapchat stories and sifting through a hundred or so Instagram photos.
Once you're in it's pretty hard to get out. Eliminate the reasons why you might need to look at your phone, the need to tell the time is one of them. If in doubt, put it in another room. After all, you now have a brand new watch to tell the time with.
4. Turn silent mode on AND vibrate off
People get the first one right. The thinking goes, I'll turn my phone on silent, therefore I won't be able to hear anything, therefore I won't be disturbed. To remove all doubt from the equation they wear headphones and now they think they are an impenetrable fortress of focus.
But they've made a schoolboy error... They have left their phone's vibrate setting on. A barrage of messages, notifications and missed calls sends vibrations through the table into your finger tips.
By then it's too late, the tapping has begun.
5. Airplane mode
This is my top recommendation for anyone who is serious about nailing a great set of results this year.
Every time you sit down to revise imagine you are taking your seat on an airplane. Stick airplane mode on and you'll be guaranteed an undisturbed revision session. Become a jet setter and book a one way ticket to Results City, then check in to the A Town Luxury Resort & Spa.
Don't blame me if mum's not happy about you being late for diner!