Six tips for students to improve time management

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So much to do, so little time. You’ve got three essays due, five chapters of reading to catch up on and you need to study for exams that are coming up in two weeks. Not to mention you have family coming to stay with you this weekend for your aunty’s 50th birthday bash.

It’s easy to let a heavy workload and busy schedule overwhelm you. But knowing how to manage your time can help even the busiest person stay on top of things. Time management is a fantastic skill to have not only for studying but throughout your whole life. Master these tips to help you become more efficient with your study time and able to fit more into your days.

Break up study time

It’s not realistic for most people to focus on any one task for hours upon hours without getting side-tracked and becoming less efficient. Try to mix up what you’re doing throughout the day, even if that just means spending time studying a variety of different subjects. Intensive blocks of two hours or so works well, spaced out with short breaks. If you feel your momentum slowing down during a study session, it’s probably time to switch to a different task or go for a walk to clear your head. Two hours of thorough study is more effective than an entire day spent procrastinating.

Create timetables

Timetables are so simple, yet so effective. A weekly planner divided into one hour blocks will enable you to plan effectively and make you more likely to stick to tasks during allocated times. Include things like classes, chores, extra-curricular activities, part-time work, free time and study sessions. For each study session, it’s a good idea to jot down a to-do list indicating key tasks you want to get done in that session, for example, read chapter two of the chemistry text book, finish literature essay, etc. It’s amazing how satisfying it is being able to tick off items on a to-do list.

Know when you’re most productive

Different people work better at different times of the day, whether it be morning, afternoon or night. So do what works best for you. If you know you’re not a morning person, don’t start trying to tackle that difficult essay question at 8 am. Leave the most challenging tasks for your best time of the day and do something less demanding, like organising notes or writing the next day’s to-do list, during your least favourite time of the day.

A change of scenery does wonders

Don’t feel like you’re confined to your desk if you don’t want to be. Studying in various work spaces can increase creativity and, in turn, productivity. Read notes in the local park, go to a library or do research in a cafe. At uni, many lectures are recorded so you could even listen to one whilst going for a walk. You may also find it helpful to talk through class notes or essay questions with a classmate or in a group environment.

Minimise distractions

It goes without saying that if you’re thinking about something else when you’re studying and not focusing on the task at hand, you are not going to be as productive as you could be. Often, distractions come from internal feelings that we can control, such as hunger or tiredness. So, ensure you get adequate sleep and have snacks nearby during a study session. You should also try to minimise distractions like social media while you’re studying. It may help to put your phone in another room so you’re not disrupted by messages, calls or notifications.

Avoid the eleventh hour

Leaving things to the last minute puts yourself under unnecessary pressure. Try to do some study on most days of the week – even if it’s only one or two hours – so you don’t end up with a mountain of work you have to catch up on. It’s also important to go over all your class notes each week to make sure you understand what was covered in class and to keep the ideas you’ve learned front of mind. As you progress through the term/semester/trimester this will require more time each week but when it comes to exams you will be immensely better equipped and able to reduce your exam study time. Read some more tips on how to hack your exam study.

Want to know how your time management skills measure up? Complete this activity to see if your use of time is super-efficient or could do with some improvement.

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