How to plan study time
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Principally, a student’s mandate is to learn. To achieve that mandate, the students need to follow some rules and principles, one of which is time management. We observed that the students are facing a number of shortages and problems to utilize their time effectively. These problems range from lack of time planning to ineffective use of time. Here are a number of solutions and suggestions that can help students take advantage of their available time.
Time Management Problems
These problems range from lack of time planning to ineffective use of time.
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1. Use Time Management Techniques. There are many techniques that help you get best use of your time. Let’s observe some of them.
a. Set your daily, weekly, and monthly goals. Let’s see how it works. You need to do a 20 page research paper for your Social Research Course, take the mid-term exam for History Class, complete a group work assignment for Introduction to Public Policy Course, and prepare a proposal for Project Management Class. In the meanwhile, there are other personal tasks that you must take care of, such as preparing for a job interview at ABC Company, continue applying for jobs, and accompany your mom abroad for medication. All of these activities must be completed in the current month. Unless you have a proper daily, weekly, and monthly activity plan, you won’t achieve them all and you will be missed up. To do that, you need to set your daily, weekly, and monthly actions. Taking into account the above example, you need to break all these activities down and distribute them in specific days and weeks. You may allocate the first week to work on your social research paper and project management proposal. More specifically, you continue to set your daily goal in this week to work on any of these two tasks. If followed properly, one week is quite enough to complete these two tasks. If you saved time, you can move to the next activity – preparing for your interview at ABC Company. You can keep this approach for week 2, week 3, and week 4.
b. Plan ahead. The most popular time management technique wouldn’t be successful if the activities aren’t planned ahead of time. An activity plan can work only if the activities identified and planned well. For example, you misidentified to do activity A, B, and C today. You are fairly sure that you can handle these three tasks in the given time. At the middle of the day, you suddenly remember that you are supposed to do activity D too today. Now, you are worried and lose your time control because you have forgotten an important and necessary task – activity D. In this scenario, your time won’t allow you to do activity D. So, activity planning is as important and critical as a time management technique itself.
c. Outsource/delegate Task(s). Friends, colleagues, classmates, subordinates, brothers, sisters, and cousins are there to help in specific tasks and circumstances. Not all the tasks required to be carried by you. It certainly eats your time. A minor, simple, ordinary, or routine task is good to delegate. Not only this will buy some time for you, but also creates a sense of friendship and trust between you and the ones you delegate. They will be proud to be trustworthy person to have the opportunity to carry some task(s) on your behalf. Thus, you need to identify the right persons close to you for the right task/activity. On the other hand, a task-for-cash could also work in circumstances where delegation doesn’t work. For example, repairing your kitchen oven will use lots of your time because you are technically not as experienced as a technician. Some service fee payment to the technician will buy both quality service and time for you. Hence, outsource and delegate tasks carefully.
d. Don’t spend time on less important things. We are involved in lots of less important activities in a day. Washing the car every day, reading everything on news, phone calls, etc. is the example of less important activities. Be mature enough to identify similar activities and avoid engaging.
e. Stop Procrastination. If that is your job, you are the ultimate person to do that. Neither time nor anyone else can protect you from doing that. You will do it today, tomorrow or by the due. Why not doing it at right time? The only power of procrastination is stopping someone from starting a task. Once you start it, you overcome procrastination. START, even if it is the most complicated and difficult task.
2. Balance Family Responsibility and Study.
In many societies and communities, a family responsibility is a must. Each member of family, regardless of their gender and outdoor task, is supposed to participate in daily family tasks. In such societies, even being a student wouldn’t relieve you from this duty. Here are a couple of solutions. First, being organized is the best approach to overcome the situation. To the extent possible, never allow one to interrupt other. For example, do the shopping before your house is out of food stuff and when you have some block of free time. If missed that opportunity and failed to manage this properly, you are missing up your study time. You can’t say people at home that don’t cook and eat anything because it is my study time. Secondly, let your mentors, group members, or professors know about your extra responsibility. Most of family-related tasks or incidents are not predictable and controllable. For example, as a head of family, a student needs to take care of his/her children or take his/her child to a doctor. As a result of such responsibilities and emergencies, a student may miss a deadline. So, his/her peers and professors can set flexible deadlines or tasks for such students.
3. Balance Job and Study.'
One of the best techniques that help you move forward is proper planning. Indeed, a weekly plan would be the best solution. List all of the weekly school and office activities. Develop a weekly personal timetable and list each activity in the timetable. Using this method requires you to be very careful in identifying all the necessary academic and professional activities for the week. Once the activities and timetable is done, you need to stick to it and limit any chance of cheating.
In the meanwhile, you need to alert both your employer and school that you are both a student and an employee and may need flexibility sometimes. Even the toughest employers and professors can understand the problem of such students and employees and are happy to help.
Students of this type must also use their free times productively. They should cut watching TV time, internet surfing, facebooking, and other time-wasting activities.
Also, be sensitive about the load of courses that you can handle. You may want to graduate soon and register 15 - 18 credits a semester. It is a good idea, but it won’t work for you. You can do something that you are able to. Assess your ability before taking such a heavy move.
4. Cut Distractions.
Social networks (facebook, chatting apps, twitter, linkedin…), watching TV, playing with your smartphone, phone calls, text messaging, conversation with friends/colleagues… are few examples of distractions. Distractions harm you in two ways – it eats your time and disturbs your focus – both of which negatively affect your productivity and performance. The loss of time and focus is costly; time can’t be bought back and focus needs to be recovered back with the cost of the time. This is the most complicated problem in the time management that has the easiest and simplest solution. However, this solution wouldn’t work unless there is a strong commitment in the part of the user. The simple formula and solution is to CUT the Distraction(s). Let’s observe this scenario. A student in his timetable scheduled three hours for drafting a research paper. He needs both the time and focus to do this task. It is important to note that he has well identified the time and effort required for this task. In the middle of the task, the soccer match between Brazil (his favorite team) and Germany attracts his attention. He can’t lose the chance to miss watching the match of his favorite team; he spends 90 minutes watching the match. He is now left with 20 minutes to complete the remaining task that needs 2-hour time. He can’t focus back, because he is off the track. Also, he is too stressed and worried about an interruption in his timetable and plan. As a result, there is a disruption in the whole activity plan and timetable of him that upset his whole day schedule. Actually, there wouldn’t be such a situation if the student was aware of such a problem in the first place and the way to counter with it. With this rule (cut the distraction) you will be able to handle it to your advantage. Please note that it is not necessary to dissociate with these activities for good. They are good means of entertainment, human and life need. Yet, they are poisonous at some situations; you need to identify those situations and get distance from them.
5. Stick to daily timetable.
One of the popular tools that keep you on track is the use of a daily timetable. You can develop a template of your own or find one in the web. The general rule is to separate your weekends and holidays from routine working days. Your daily timetable may be divided into six categories; personal hygiene, sleep time, meal time, pastime, study time, and work time. You can then distribute each of these categories into their parts. You can allocate necessary amount of minutes/hours to each of these in accordance with your need and desire. For instance, a student who is also an employee has allocated three hours (an hour in the morning, an hour in the middle of the day, and an hour after the school) for his study in today’s plan. During this three hour, he is to work on three tasks – do a reading for the class, prepare for a presentation for tomorrow’s class, and work on a paper. So, he is to organize these three tasks in the category of “study time” in his timetable. And the same rule can be applied to each of the categories. There are lots of advantages associated with this tool. First of all, you beat procrastination – the most dangerous enemy of a student. Secondly, students with multiple responsibilities will be more organized and managed with a timetable. They can simply keep track of their different activities in the job and the school in a day. Thirdly, you are handling the things; not the things handling you. Lastly, distractions may be easily stopped.
Rank your activities (use A, B, C or 1, 2, 3 to designate a rank). Identify which activity is urgent, important, or both. Not all the tasks of a day are equally important and urgent, although few exceptions happen. When using any time management technique and tool, you need to sort the activities based on their importance and urgency. The general rule is that the most urgent tasks come first, even before important tasks. The logic is simple. If an urgent task remains undone, there is a consequence for that. Therefore, complete an urgent task first. The other alternative is to postpone the completion of some important tasks, which are not urgent, to the weekends. Since your brain is fresher and less engaged in other activities, you can invest great amount of mental attentio