How to Manage your Time to Improve your Study Skills
Most students start each new semester of school with high expectations. They envision themselves as being successful in their studies and school work. Still, they fail to put together a realistic plan or establish a routine that will enable them to achieve academic success. There are only so many hours in a day, days in a week, and weeks in a term. And if you don’t pay attention, the end of the semester will arrive before you know it – catching you by surprise. To achieve academic success, you must carefully manage your study time on a daily, weekly, and semester basis. The following is a time management strategy for doing precisely that. Here is How to Manage Your Time To Improve Your Study.
Step 1. Prepare a Term Calendar
At the start of each new term, before you get heavily involved in your studies or other activities, prepare a calendar that covers the entire time. Your term calendar can look like a regular monthly calendar, or it can employ a different format. Whichever format you choose, your term calendar should outline the following:
- Assignments with their due dates
- Tests with their dates
- All school activities
- All out-of-school and extra-curricular activities
Step 2. Prepare a Weekly Schedule
Unlike your term calendar, which is planned out in its entirety at the beginning of each term, your weekly schedule is prepared at the beginning of each new week. Each Sunday, sit down and make your weekly schedule. Although you’ll develop your weekly plan each Sunday, you should update your program as the week progresses and new items arise. To prepare your weekly schedule, do the following:
- Write down on your calendar each class you have for each day of the week
- Take a look at your term calendar and write down on your weekly calendar items that need to be completed, or are occurring that week (i.e., assignments, tests, events, etc.)
- Go back and review all your class notes and your schedule from the prior week to see if there is anything you need to add to this week’s plan that is carrying over.
- Add to your weekly schedule any out-of-school and extra-curricular activities you’ll be participating in during the upcoming week.
- Note down the day and time for each assignment, study session, workgroup, or project you’ll be completing during the week. These may be occurring in the evening, after school, or during school.
Step 3. Prepare a Daily Schedule
You’d think a term calendar and weekly schedule would be sufficient to manage your time effectively, but they aren’t. You also need to prepare a daily plan. Each evening, develop a regular schedule for the next school day. Place a checkmark next to each item to be completed as it is completed. To prepare your daily plan, do the following:
- Jot down everything from your weekly schedule that you need to do for the coming day.
- Write down everything from your previous daily schedule that wasn’t completed and needs to completes the next day.
- Check your daily schedule for the current day to see if there are any other school activities that you need to include for the following day.
- Include any other activities from your weekly schedule that need to includes in your next day’s schedule
You’ll notice that one of the keys to effectively managing your study time is to start with the big picture and then work down to the detail. Your term calendar provides direction and instruction for accomplishing the big picture. Your weekly and daily schedules provide the feature required to achieving everything in your term calendar, whereby enabling you to accomplish your term goals one day and week at a time.
Other Time Management Skills
Once you’ve developed a term calendar, weekly schedule, and daily schedule, several different strategies will help you accomplish more and make the most effective use of your time. These include:
- Prioritize your assignments. As you progress through your education, you’ll find the topics of study become more complex, the workload more demanding, and the material more challenging. By the time you arrive at college, there isn’t enough time in the day to get everything done. Start the habit of beginning your studying with the most difficult or necessary, subject, or task first. Tackling the hardest issues early, while you’re still fresh and energized, will make the remainder of your studies much more comfortable.
- Find a dedicated study space. Some students will spend the first 20 minutes of their study time just looking for somewhere to study. A key to ongoing time management is to find a dedicated study space free from distractions where you can concentrate. If you want to change up your study space, that’s fine, make sure to find a study space that works and stick with it.
- Create blocks of study time. Not only should you have a dedicated study space, but you should also have dedicated study time–blocks of time where you focus on your studies. Neighborhoods around 40 to 50 minutes are ideal but may be longer or shorter based on the subject and your ability to focus. It’s okay to take study breaks during your blocks for a snack or to get up and walk around, but make sure to return to your studies.
- Schedule activities for after your schoolwork. One of the most challenging yet essential elements of effective time management is to put your homework first. It’s easy to say you’ll get your school work done later, or just before you go to bed. It’s just as easy to say you’ll do it tomorrow when bedtime arrives, and you no longer have the disposition or energy to get it done. Complete your schoolwork as soon as possible. Putting off less important activities until after you complete your homework will allow you to stay on track and focus on your “fun” activities without the pressure looming school work.
- Use helpful resources. The adage, if at first, you don’t succeed, try, try, try again, while useful for many of life’s situations, isn’t always the best philosophy when you’re strapped for time and can’t figure out your chemistry homework. As you progress through middle school, high school, and then into college, it’s wise to rely on the help, expertise, and knowledge of others to assist you with the learning process. Smart friends, tutors, study groups, and even the Internet are useful resources for tackling complex subjects and making the most effective use of your time.
- Join a study group. Study groups offer several advantages to students, the least of which is the ability to cover more material faster. Working in a study group makes it possible to research and learn about various topics quickly. Each member is assigned a question and then provides a summary to the group.
- Get exercise. Eat right. Get plenty of sleep. Yeah, you’ve heard this before, but let us repeat it. Get exercise, eat right, and get plenty of rest. If you’re not at your peak, you won’t be able to focus or concentrate, nor will you have the energy or stamina to get your studies completed efficiently. Going to bed an hour early can make all the difference the next day in your ability to make the best use of your time.
- Be flexible. You can’t plan for everything. Unforeseen obstacles are bound to pop up, so plan accordingly and be flexible. I want sure to get back on track as soon as possible and maintain your monthly, weekly, and daily schedule.