Good time management is not just about knowing when to study and creating lists. Making the most of the time available to study also requires a proper time management action plan.
Below are some time management tips to keep in mind when planning study time:
• Set realistic goals. Trying to accomplish too much can cause a task to seem overwhelming. This can lead to avoidance and procrastination. When setting daily goals, make note of what absolutely must get done today and focus on these tasks. It is much easier to add more tasks if you find yourself with some free time than finding the time for those things you didn't get done.
• Learn to say no. Many people have a hard time saying no, whether it is to family or friends. Remember that you cannot commit to every social event or project. When you have set aside time for studying, stick to your schedule and hit those books!
• Stay focused. If you find yourself getting off track and having a hard time finding your way back, ask yourself these two questions: "What am I avoiding?" and "What is the best way for me to spend my time right now?" Your answers should help you figure out just what you need to focus on.
• Multi-task. Finding ways to multi-task and combine activities can really help you accomplish more in your day without really trying. For example, if you take a bus to school, use that time to review your notes or listen to a lecture that you taped. Take your class readings along with you to track practice, and read while you run on the treadmill or cycle on a stationary bike.
• Do not procrastinate. When a big assignment or project comes up that seems overwhelming, it is easy to avoid doing it. However, this can lead to problems later on as you scramble to get everything done. Instead of putting things off, try doing just a little at a time. This may mean that you read Act I of "Romeo and Juliet" rather than the entire play in one evening, or that you work on your project for one hour per night for five nights instead of all night. Alternatively, you may find it best to tackle the hardest part of a project right away so that you get it out of the way.
• Find quiet time. Finding some quiet time to study when there are younger siblings around can be difficult. Arrange for your parents or other family members to watch the children so that you can get the quiet time you need to get your work done.
• Sleep. While it is not unusual to stay up late once in a while to finish a big project, regularly skimping on your rest can leave you feeling drained and exhausted. This can make it harder to get through the day, and cause your studies to suffer. Following the time management schedule should help you get the eight hours of sleep you need every night
By managing your study time effectively and making the most of it, you will be able to accomplish each task you have planned, and in the process become more organized. Most importantly, studying will become habitual rather than panic-driven. As Aristotle said, "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit."
Elizabeth Hamilton, M.Ed., MA, is a teacher with 29 years of professional experience. You can write to her at firstname.lastname@example.org with your questions or comments.