Finding Time to Study
With all of the great clubs teams, societies, organisations and informal social events at university it can be hard to find time for what you are actually there to do – study! Don’t wait until it is too late to try to find some time in your busy schedule to hit the books, so start each term as you mean to go on. Peruse these time management techniques and you’ll soon come to realise that there is plenty of time to do everything you want, and even open the books that you don’t.
Make Every Hour CountThere are only 24 hours in each day, so it is your job to make every hour count. Most students have no idea where their time has gone towards the end of the term when they are in a crunch, so start early and find out for yourself. For the first week of the term keep a brief time diary and write down EVERYTHING you do. This is not about strictly tracking your study time, so be sure to include time spent:
- Cooking and eating.
- Cleaning and doing other chores.
- Working out at the gym or running.
- Running errands.
- Waiting (in line, for appointments, etc.).
- Playing video games or surfing the ‘Net.
- Reading magazines or for pleasure.
- Watching films or TV.
- Socialising with friends.
Plan it OutOnce you have some idea of how you spend your time you can begin to see where you waste time as well. Rather than lose several hours a week to interesting, though unproductive, Internet searches, turn this time into study time. Only when you have planned out the hours you need to fit in studying, work and practices should you consider yourself to have free time on your hands. Find yourself a student diary and each weekday block out the time that you need to spend:
- Commuting to and attending lectures and labs.
- Studying independently or completing group work.
- Working for wages.
- Completing commitments to teams, clubs, etc.
Know Your DeadlinesSometimes, even with their days arranged, students get caught out because they forget a deadline. Don’t lose credits (or even fail) because of forgetfulness! In your student diary, right down exam dates, essay/project deadlines, tests and quizzes as soon as you know about them. Then, by working backwards, set yourself smaller deadlines such as:
- Completing a rough draft.
- Completing a bibliography.
- Calling a halt to research in order to begin writing an essay.
- Having a friend proofread an assignment.
- Organising a study group for an exam.
- Obtaining and studying past exam papers (if allowed at your university).
- Writing out a final review sheet to study.
Take a BreakIt might seem a little backwards that to get organised and stay on task you need to remember to take a break, but that’s the way of the world. We can only work and stay focused for so long, usually about 45 minutes, before we all need to clear our heads and recharge. Get used to wearing a watch while you go about your activities, and while you are studying set the alarm to go off every 45 minutes. Give yourself about 15 minutes to clear your head, and then get back to it. Quick study breaks you should consider include:
- Walking outside for some air.
- Preparing a healthy snack.
- Checking email (since you will NOT be doing this during study time).
- Picking up a book or magazine for a change of subject.
- Engaging in a brief yoga routine.