Using Time Effectively

Alright, so you’ve determined how much time you have to study. How do you actually work you’re your schedule? 10 hours on Saturday and 10 hours on Sunday isn’t necessarily the best way to study, so let’s take a look.

Using time effectively means working to your strengths, being strategic and knowing your limits. Try and think about your own habits: Do you work better early in the morning or late at night? What is the maximum amount of time you can work for productively? These define when and how long your best study sessions will be.

Go back to your weekly schedule, with the Personal Time Survey in hand. If you haven’t done this yet, see Time and How to Spend It. Mark off the times where you’re performing the essential activities of everyday life. (Sleeping, grooming, meal prep, travel times, work hours, class hours, socializing.) Cool, that’s the baseline.

Consider:

When are you most productive? For how long? Use that information to block off all the time you have identified you need to study.

For an example, if I’ve determined I need 21 hours a week of study:

  • I’m an early bird by nature, up at 6am most days. I can usually work for 2-3 hours, but get unfocused after that and tend to browse Facebook. Recognizing that, I won’t schedule a study session longer than 3 hours.
  • Monday to Friday I’ll study for 20min before going to work each morning. This will be doing discussion posting, writing a few paragraphs for an essay or doing some research in the library.
  • Saturday I’ll do two sessions, from 9am-12 noon and 2pm-5pm (6hrs). The rest of the day is spent on chores, meal prep, and family. Saturday night is usually when I socialize with friends.
  • Sunday is when I need to crunch a bit more. I’ll do three sessions (8am-11noon, 1pm-4pm, 6pm-9pm). (9hrs)
  • From doing this analysis, I see that I need to block out more study time. Tuesday nights are free for me, so I’ll do some work after supper even though it’s not my most productive times.(6pm-9pm) (3hrs)
  • Friday I usually stay in and watch Netflix with the family. I’ll block out some time here to work, and then treat myself with some TV afterwards. (1.5hrs)

Try a schedule out and see if it works for you, make adjustments as needed. Here are few additional tips that might help while you’re studying:

  1. Make a ‘to do’ list on which you can add tasks as they arise, and then tick them off. To do lists help feed your sense of accomplishment and lets you visually see progress.
  2. Make sure to record deadlines! It’s no good if you finish something too late.
  3. Divide a large task up into small manageable chunks and tackle each of these separately. Start with small tasks and work up to the more demanding ones.