Lots of people find studying difficult, but the following time-management techniques will help you study more effectively and efficiently.
Planning. Be systematic in your studying – plan out what you will do when. Whether it is writing an essay or revising for exams, plan what needs to be done and roughly how long you are going to spend on each section of the work. That way, no one thing gets too much attention and another too little.
Each time you sit down to study decide what you are going to do, and for how long. Stick to the deadline.
Avoid overload. You need time for study and time for rest, relaxation, sleep, eating, exercising and socializing.
People who are good at time-management don’t wait until the last minute to complete their projects. Make sure you allow enough time for the unexpected, so plan your study in advance.
If you have exams coming up, plan your revision so you cover all the material necessary, and do practice papers, questions or similar to help you memorise information.
Know yourself. Good time-management means studying at the times of day when you are freshest. If you are up with the lark then this will be early morning and late morning/early afternoon. If you are an owl, try late morning and late afternoon/early evening. Study difficult subjects first, when you are fresh.
Don’t shy away from material which you find most difficult to understand – tackle it when you are fresh.
Physical environment. Stop interruptions. Find a nice quiet place to study, switch off your phone. Turn off the email alert on your computer. In fact, setting up a regular study place will help get you in the mood.
Sit at a desk, rather than lounging on the bed or floor. And make sure you sit in a reasonably comfy chair, set at the right height and with good lighting.
Psychology. Don’t forget the big picture. Why are you doing all this work? To reach your long term goals, so don’t forget them! Good time-management teaches us to links short term activities to long term goals, so that we never lose sight of the big picture. Be positive – you will get there!
Stop studying when you are no longer being productive. It’s not the time itself that you spend on studying; it is the quality of the studying.
If you get tired or bored, switch task/activity – you will pay more attention to something that’s different. Some people have 3 tasks on the go at any time, and rotate around them in 30 minute blocks. Once one is finished, add a new task in so you are still working on 3 topics.
If you are procrastinating, ask yourself why. Perhaps the task is unclear, in which case clarify it. Do you have all the information to hand? If not, make finding the information the first thing you do. If it’s an unpleasant task, it will only seem even more unpleasant the longer you leave it, so just get stuck.
Recognise that you have a limited concentration span – for most people it’s around 40 minutes, so have regular breaks.
Learning strategies. Play to your strengths – we all learn in different ways so find what suits you best and capitalise on it. Try:
* read and then question yourself; pair up with someone else and question each other
* make notes
* highlight key words
* use mind maps
* make a list of questions you need to find the answers to.
Read for comprehension not to get to the end of the chapter.
Alternate reading with more active learning exercises, such as note taking, test questions
If you are still struggling, try this rescue remedy. Stand up and walk around, preferably outside for 5 minutes. Go back to your study place. Set a timer for 10 minutes and start somewhere – anywhere. At the end of 10 minutes you will be engrossed and will have clarified where you are going.