Friday, September 22nd, 2023

Time Management



Planning Your Time
There are three dimensions to organizing your time: daily, weekly and across the semester. It’s a good idea to develop some sort of study pattern within these dimensions.

Daily rhythms (‘Owls and Larks’)
Are you an owl or a lark? Do you like studying late at night when everyone else is snoring in bed? That’s fine (but don’t forget that 8:00 a.m. class). If you like studying in the morning, go to bed early to be ready for an early morning start. An average working day is 8 hours, so try to plan an average of 8 hours study a day.

You also need to be aware of your attention span, which will vary depending on a
variety of factors, such as your mood, the time of day, and your interest in whatever it is that you are trying to do. In other words, you should not persist with an activity, such as writing an assignment for several hours, if your mind wanders and you find it difficult to concentrate, or you start to feel sleepy; you will not be able to achieve much under these conditions.

Take plenty of breaks, get some exercise and have some fun with your friends as well. Remember to schedule plenty of sleep as well. Most people need 8 hours a night. Establishing a reasonably regular daily rhythm makes it easier to sleep well, get out of bed and study efficiently.

Weekly rhythms
It is a good idea to draw up a weekly timetable showing your classes and any other regular commitments and stick it up on the wall above whrer you study. Use it to plan the rest of your week, remembering the average of 8 hours a day. You can pencil in times to prepare for your classes and times for general study. It’s a good idea to start good study habits early, so, you’ll be great at it by the time finals roll around.

Semester rhythms
The beginning of semester is a good time to get organized with a good system for your notes, a study plan and a good study space.

As soon as possible you should make a semester plan, perhaps on a big wall calendar. Mark on it when all your assignments are due so that you can see when to start working on what. You may have several assignments due at one time, so you need to plan well ahead. Preparing a two thousand word essay usually takes time several weeks. Think about how long it will take you to:

  • select and analyze the topic, and work out a preliminary plan
  • locate the relevant articles, books, reviews etc.
  • read the materials and take notes
  • revise the essay plan and write a draft
  • take a break from it (show it to your teacher or tutor)
  • rewrite it
  • edit your final draft
  • compile the bibliography.

Sometimes, your schedule will be very busy and you may need to schedule a break for a couple of days after them.

Overcoming Procrastination
Everybody suffers from procrastination at times. You just don’t seem to be able to get started. You can do anything else – talk to your friends, play computer games, watch TV, tidy your room – anything but study.

There are many reasons for why this happens. It may be that you think the task is boring, or too difficult, or you don’t understand how to do it. It may seem too enormous to tackle. You begin to feel worse and worse about the task – and yourself. You may feel discouraged, stressed, frustrated and even rebellious.

Tips to Help You Stop Procrastinating

  • find out exactly what you are required to do.
  • set up times and places where you can study successfully.
  • make yourself as happy and comfortable as possible when you study.
  • make sure your friends know when you will be studying (you may even need to use a ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign).
  • break the task into manageable bits (ie. make a plan for your assignment and tackle it bit by bit).
  • make a ‘to do list’ and mark items off as you do them.
  • reward yourself.
  • have regular breaks and set goals for study periods (eg: I’ll study for two hours and then I’ll watch Survivor).
  • switch tasks (do the easy parts first).
  • engage in positive self-talk (think about the things you excel in).

Learning to Concentrate

Set Up Your Study Space and Use it Regularly
Your body knows where you are. When you use the same place to study, day after day, your body becomes trained. When you arrive at that particular place, it will automatically sense that it’s time to study and you will be able to focus your concentration more quickly.

Make yourself comfortable

  • Choose a place that is quiet and without distractions.
  • Have good lighting – preferably natural light — in your study area.
  • It must also be well ventilated and at a comfortable temperature.
  • Get yourself a study desk with enough space for reading, writing and a computer, and where you can store all the writing and other study materials you need.
  • To limit distractions, keep your study area tidy so you always know where everything is.
  • Use a decent chair with lumbar support.

Getting down to serious study

  • Make sure that your study space is quiet and comfortable and that you will not be disturbed.
  • If you need to do some reading, it’s a good idea to stand the book up vertically, not on a horizontal desk – use a bookrack or a document holder for this purpose.
  • If working in front of a computer screen, set up your computer with your monitor straight at eye-height, with your keyboard and mouse at elbow level and with your arms at your side. You should be able to reach your keyboard and mouse without lifting your arm up. Work in a position that reduces the strain on your joints (wrists, elbows, neck) as much as possible.
  • Have a regular ‘preparing to study ritual’ to help you begin to focus on your work. For example, make a cup of coffee, sharpen your pencil, and check your assignment calendar before you begin.
  • Plan your study schedule for that day. For example, do some preparatory reading and write an outline for your assignment.
  • Start on a relatively easy task first to get you in the mood before you tackle the more difficult study tasks.

Monitor your concentration and avoid distractions

  • Pay attention to your attention — Breaks in concentration are often caused by internal interruptions. If this happens too often, consider beginning your study sessions with a relaxation exercise or meditation. You may even need to find a different study time or place.
  • Agree with roommates about study time — Make the rules clear and be sure to follow them yourself.Hang a Do not Disturb’ sign on your door.
  • Avoid noise distractions — Don’t study in front of the TV and turn off the stereo. Many students insist that they study better with music but the overwhelming majority of research indicates that silence is best for when you’re studing.
  • Learn to say no — This is a valuable time saver for students, and a valuable life skill. Many peoplefeel it is rude to refuse a request, but saying “no” can be done effectively and politely. Others want you to succeed as a student. When you tell them that you can’t go out to socialize because you are busy studying, most people will understand.

Some hints for efficient study

  • Take regular breaks of at least five minutes to minimize back problems, headaches, eyestrain, repetitive strain injuries, etc. This is particularly important if you spend a lot of time in front of a computer screen or focused on the pages of a book.
  • Give your eyes a rest by looking up and focusing on distant objects frequently.
  • Be aware of your posture – keep your back straight, your head and shoulder blades back, and your feet flat on the floor.
  • Regularly stretch your neck, shoulders, arms and hands. Stand up and touch your toes.
  • Reward yourself with a snack and a drink after completing an hour or two of study. It’s a good idea to keep these rewards in another location so they don’t distract you and so you must get up from your study area
    to get them. Getting up to walk and stretch is good for you, too.