Managing your time while studying is probably the single most important of all studying techniques. It is the foundation on which all your studies are based and the key to studying effectively. When done correctly, time management and planning allows you to balance the many commitments you have while studying. This, in turn, enables you to stay motivated, focused and less stressed – your timetable essentially becomes your personalized guide on how to study effectively. The following are tips that were useful to me in high school and university to stay on top of things– give it a try and see if it works for you too.
There are many tools which can be used in successful time management – for example, diaries, year planners, calendar software, etc – however, the design of an effective study timetable is perhaps the most important when it comes to managing your time for revision and exam preparation.
The following tips are essential for planning a successful study timetable;
To start, draft your study timetable on a blank, 7-day week template that displays your full day from when you wake up until when you go to sleep. Each day should be further sub-sectioned into 15-minute sections.
First, schedule-in your daily routines which, even though are not directly relevant to your study plan, will be the routines around which you base the rest of your study timetable. Use as many details as possible, and even schedule seemingly mundane routines, for example, getting ready in the morning, lunch time, dinner time, other daily chores and what time you plan to wake up and go to sleep.
Second, lectures, exam times, and work hours should be scheduled next. These are usually not flexible and will start to give you an overall look at how much time you’ll have for revision, summarizing lessons and studies.
Third, leisure activities are also important but should be scheduled around lecture and work hours. These periods are generally more flexible in high-stress times and may even be dropped if required, although, this should not happen normally.
Now that you’ve filled the essentials of your day on your timetable, the blank areas left over will be times potentially available for study. These blank areas should be sectioned into study blocks. Try to manipulate your plan in order to have as many study blocks in your peak hours, ie, the times when you’re feeling most alert. Study blocks should be a maximum of 50 minutes long, followed by a break of about 10 minutes before another study session.
Use different coloured pens or markers to schedule different events, for example, blue for lectures, red for study blocks, black for leisure, etc. This makes it easy to plan your day at a glance.
Stick to the plan! Even in times when there are no exams or tests, utilize these periods for lower concentration intensity activities such as assignments, study preparation and study groups. Keeping the rhythm of your plan going will develop good study habits and better prepare your mental perseverance and motivation to study. Learn more about concentration techniques.
Set achievable goals for the amount of work you need to cover by breaking your study material into manageable sections. Monitor and evaluate your progress and amend your plan accordingly. You may need to reduce or cut out certain leisure activities before exams and tests or to catch up with assignments.
Never schedule time to study on the day prior to a test or exam. Outlined in revision techniques, this time should rather be scheduled for light revision lesson summarizing.
The most important thing when applying your study timetable is discipline. In being diligent in your timetable and developing good study habits, success in the academic arena can be guaranteed.
I hope the tips are helpful!