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By: Kelsey McIntyre

Hello everyone! With exams coming up, we thought it would be nice to show how the St Andrews Lean philosophy can be used by students to manage their workloads, decrease stress and improve productivity. But first: what even is Lean?

Lean is the right people continuously searching for the simplest and smoothest process in order to meet the customer needs perfectly. There are five key principles:

  1. Value- Add value and remove waste
  2. Process- nothing happens in isolation
  3. Pull- ensuring that the right product is delivered at the right time and is of the right quality
  4. Flow- smooth out peaks and troughs
  5. Perfection- aim to get it right the first time

These principles can easily be adapted to meet your exam and deadline needs.

  1. Value
    1. Are all of your actions actually bringing value to your studies?
    2. Try to find out what kind of learner you are (auditory, visual or kinaesthetic) and try to adapt your work methods to add more value.
    3. Now think about wastes within your study process: is it really necessary to go work in the library or a café when it might be wasting time or distracting you? Is going through your textbook and mindlessly highlighting really making a difference?
    4. Look at your current study and work habits in order to analyse areas to focus on and wastes that you can cut
  2. Process
    1. Have a look at your daily routine, everything is interconnected
    2. Is it best for you to wake up, eat and immediately get to work or would you be more productive with a more relaxing morning and then getting to work after lunch?
    3. The process completely depends upon your personal preference, but do look at how to streamline it to get the most out of yourself. This will help eliminate unnecessary stress and make you more productive during the times you do work
  3. Pull
    1. Make sure you are keeping to a schedule so you know everything you have to do before the exam or deadline (and that you actually know when and where to go for said exam/deadline)
    2. Make sure you also know what your professor expects of you so you can decrease time wastes on unnecessary sections of the course and focus on the key topics
  4. Flow
    1. Try to make your schedule consistence so you can get the most out of your day
    2. Yes, this might me you have to start studying a few days earlier than you might prefer in order to avoid the ‘day before deadline’ panic and all-nighter
    3. You will be more productive if you do a moderate and consistent amount of work per day rather than panicking at the end of revision (your grades and stress level will thank you)
  5. Perfection
    1. Aiming for perfection means striving to continuously improve, so look at your past feedback and take those into account. Study hard. Do practice questions. And after your exam (and your post-exam celebrations), think of how you can improve for next time.

Overall, for your own personal and academic wellbeing, come up with a schedule that maximises productivity, cut time-wasters, be consistent, and learn from your mistakes in order to continuously improve. This is a busy and stressful time for students, but using Lean philosophy should help you get the most out of yourself and improve productivity.


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