Time Management: Studying Smarter

by frank-stuart

College life can feel unstructured when compared with work or school, with an abundance of what appears to be ‘free time’. College life is about learning to prioritise your goals, setting your own schedule, and developing good time management skills.

Planning Your Semester

Taking an approach that combines long-term and short-term scheduling is an excellent way to stay organised.

  • Start with identifying your annual study goal(s). What do you want to achieve this year? Be specific. An example might be to maintain an honours grade average across your subjects. Use these goals to prioritise your time throughout the semester.
  • Plan out your semester. List major semester dates in a monthly planner, including exam periods and assignment due dates.
  • Every week, write down your contact hours, private study hours, and extracurricular time. In doing so, you’re building a structure for each week that can be adjusted and fine-tuned throughout the semester.
  • In the daily section of your diary, write down high priority tasks and lower priority tasks. Always work on the high priority tasks first. You can note items to be followed up if you don’t complete them on time.
  • Monitor and track how you’re using the allocated time. For example, do you find yourself getting distracted during private study hours? You may find it useful to use a silent study area at home or use the library to study more effectively. Alternatively, you may find that you’ve allocated too much or too little time for certain subjects.
  • Review your monthly, weekly, and daily priorities on a regular basis. Stay aware of upcoming due dates and commitments. Constantly re-adjust your time allocations and goals as required.
  • As you accumulate study notes, keep them systematically organised through the semester so you’ll be able to quickly find what you need. File notes according to subject and subtopics within subjects.

Overcoming Procrastination

Procrastination is a common problem for many students. To build better time management skills, identify why you’re delaying action. Stress is an often-cited underlying cause, as is the ‘perfection paralysis’.

  • If you’re feeling overwhelmed, break activities into manageable blocks. List them on a sheet of paper and work through the list by focusing on one individual task at a time.
  • Become decisive and realise that you simply have to do the work now. Use your diary or planner to keep aware of different priorities. As you learn to work methodically through your study blocks, you’ll find that you can concentrate for longer periods without procrastinating.
  • Waiting for everything to become ‘perfect’ before taking action can waste valuable time. Take action now, even if the reading materials or assignment looks complex and you don’t know exactly where to start. Studying is really all about ‘learning on the job’.

Staying Motivated

Self-motivation can be successfully practiced until you become proficient at keeping yourself motivated.

  • If you find yourself losing motivation, review your key goals for the year to keep them fresh in your mind.
  • Find ways to build interest in your subjects. These can be getting together with a study group or choosing subjects you’re passionate about.
  • Doing can build interest. If you’re organised and undertake the recommended study hours, you’ll feel more engaged during lectures and tutorials. Motivation levels are likely to grow as you learn more about each subject.

The Australian College of Physical Education (ACPE) has an Academic Development Office that offers professional and skill development to help you maximise your academic potential, including the opportunity to attend a range of workshop programs.

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