Managing time is an important skill – in school, and in life generally. Here are some techniques that can help you use your time more efficiently.
Use a Schedule
If you constantly ask yourself “What should I do next?” you’re wasting time making decisions about how to use time. Without a plan, you may be distracted by other things on your mind. As soon as you start working on one task, you’re reminded of other things that you need to do; with no plan, everything seems to demand immediate attention. A schedule can help you save time and energy. Here are some tips for using one:
- Let a schedule serve you, not control you. Make it realistic, not so severe that you know you cannot possibly follow it.
- Make changes to your schedule when necessary. Revise it when you need to. Don’t make it an inflexible system that takes away freedom of action; it should be a helpful guide to your efforts.
- Don’t give up. If you get discouraged using your schedule, remember that starting a new routine is often difficult. Keep trying until it becomes a habit.
Study More Efficiently
- Use distributed learning: study in frequent, brief periods of time rather than a few, long study sessions. Try to frequently review what you learn.
- What you do after studying has an effect on remembering what you learn. The more similar succeeding activities are to the original learning, the greater the interference with remembering what you learned. For example, studying Math right after studying Statistics may interfere with remembering Statistics if the information is similar. If you study two subjects in a row, study different subjects.
- To reduce interference with learning, study difficult topics right before you sleep.
Make a Schedule
- Write in your class schedule.
- Write in regular activities such as meals, hours of work, sports activity, and so on.
- Block off regular recreation time.
- Allow for at least 8 hours of sleep at night.
- When you set up study hours, specify what course you plan to study at that time.
- If the class is lecture format, try to study the topic just after class.
- If the class involves recitation or discussion, try to study just before class.
- Adjust the length and time of a study session to the material to be studied.
- Allow a 5 to 10 minute rest period after each hour of study or between subjects. It prevents material learned earlier from interfering with new material.
- Schedule a daily review (½ to 1 hour) each evening to briefly review assignments covered during the day; schedule a weekly review each weekend.
- Schedule a block of time each week (2 – 4 hours) that can be used for special assignments such as library research for a paper or study time for a major exam.