Making time to study
When undertaking a professional qualification or course of continual professional development, successfully juggling priorities at work and home as well can be challenging – especially when exams are looming. Here’s […]
When undertaking a professional qualification or course of continual professional development, successfully juggling priorities at work and home as well can be challenging – especially when exams are looming.
Here’s our advice on how to make the most of the hours in your week
1. Know what time you have
You can’t effectively make a study plan until you have a clear idea of what time you have available. If you’re looking to make tweaks to your schedule in the long term, spend a day or two tracking exactly how you spend your time currently – everything from commuting to leisure and family time, and how many hours you spend at work. From there assess how much of that could be made available for study regularly. Could you go to the gym before work rather than after to free up time in the evening? Could you use your commute to revise or listen to podcasts? If you’re coming close to your deadline you may need to be more ruthless in making time.
2. Create a timetable
When you’ve worked out the hours you have to spend, write yourself a timetable – and stick to it. It may feel like being back at school again, but the best way to manage time is to be strict and make sure everything has its place. Assign specific hours for your studying, let your friends and colleagues know not to disturb you at those times.
3. Study plan
It’s all very well knowing the number of hours to allocate to your studies, but you also need to know what to do in those hours. Take one week at a time, and assign a topic or task for each of your study sessions, starting with the subject that needs the most attention. At the end of the week, review how well you stuck to it, and if you need to allocate more or less time the next week. But remember, if there’s a whole module or paper to cover, make sure you study it all, rather than revisiting the same part again and again.
4. Keep lists
We come across or remember things that need doing all the time, and sometimes these can distract us from more important tasks. Whenever one of these crops up, write it down on a list, and at the end of the day, prioritise your list, and see if a very slight tweak to your timetable will allow you to accommodate whatever else needs doing. Similarly with your studies, if in the process you realise you need to spend more time on a certain area, make a note of it and come back to it when you do your next batch of study session planning. Try not to let these things distract you from your well-organised plan!
Many students also tell us about how motivation and goal setting help them stay focussed on their studies, see if the same could work for you.