Okay, let’s get in the zone:
Our lives are busy – 7 hours of school for 5 days a week, sports, co-curricular activities, jobs, leisure time, a good night’s sleep…when do we even start to fit our study in?
The key is good organisation and time management. Master these, and you will decrease stress and increase your success at school.
So, LET’S GET ORGANISED!
2 ways to get organised and manage your time better
1. Use the Getting Things Done system (GTD). Developed by ‘Productivity Consultant’ David Allen, the GTD system’s method rests on the idea of moving planned tasks and projects out of the mind and recording them externally. This will free your mind up to concentrate on the actual tasks, rather than wasting time trying to recall them (and probably forget) after a busy day. As soon as your teacher announces an assignment, exam, or homework, or you remember something you need to do, write it on your list immediately. You can use a pen and paper, the notes section in your phone, or an app.
>Make daily to-do lists
Consult your term calendar for due dates, and prioritise your to-do list. Your term calendar is date-specific (when is something due?) and your to-do list is context-specific (what do I have to do?).
> Break down tasks into ‘actions’
Your to-do list should be very specific. Don’t just write ‘History Assignment’; what actions do you have to take to complete your history assignment? This will allow you to track your progress, manage your time better and stay focused.Below is an example of a to-do list broken down into actions:
Make sure you don’t just work on immediate priorities – to be well prepared, you should be starting to work on assignments or study for exams several weeks beforehand.
After you have completed an action make sure to cross it out. Remember, be specific!
2. Pomodoro technique
This is a great technique to monitor how much time it takes you to do a task, such as homework or an assignment, and also to ensure you stay focused.
- Grab an egg timer, or use your phone timer (you can also get a Pomodoro app!)
- Set the timer to 25 minutes.
- When the timer rings, you have completed one pomodoro timer. Take a 5-10 minute break, and write a check mark on a piece of paper to track your progress.
- 4 pomodoro timers (4 check marks) = 1 set (equivalent to 2 hours of study with breaks).
- After you’ve completed 1 set, take a longer break – anywhere between 15-30 minutes to ‘recharge’.
- Start your next pomodoro timer, or next ‘set’.
- The more you use this technique, the better you will get at figuring out how long a task or an assignment will roughly take, and the better you can plan your time.
- If you’ve finished a task and your pomodoro timer is still going, devote the time to over learning or review.
- If the timer goes off and you’re writing the best essay of your entire life, keep going! It’s a productivity system, not a prison. You can be flexible!Something on your mind?Keep a worry pad – if anything pops into your head during the pomodoro timer, write it down and come back to it in your break or at the end of your study. You need absolute focus!
Research conducted by Microsoft in 2015 discovered that the human attention span has fallen from 12 seconds in 2000 (the start of the mobile revolution), to 8 seconds.
(Gold fish have a 9 second attention span, fyi)
Millennials are chastised for having digital lifestyles, however we are also better at identifying what we do and don’t want to engage with, as well as having more intermittent bursts of high attention.
Our ability to hold attention (or the way our attention functions) hasn’t changed, it’s just allocated differently.
How can we turn this into an advantage?
Together with the Pomodoro technique, we can use these bursts of attention to complete tasks quicker, as our focus will be sharper. Taking regular breaks will consolidate the material, and then we’re refreshed and ready for the next burst of study.
Identify when you have the most energy – is it in the morning, during lunch, or in the evening before bed? You can get much more done in 1 hour of HIGH energy, than in 3 hours of LOW energy.
You need to maximise your time to fit in all your study, and this means being flexible!
- Keep study notes or flashcards, or use an app on your phone to study on the go! Try fitting in some study on the bus, in the car, at the breakfast table, before an appointment, or at the gym.
- Listen to podcasts or record yourself speaking your notes so you can listen on your phone.
Check out this Pomodoro Technique video and become a Certified Pomodoro Master and time manager extraordinaire!
And don’t forget, you can always ask the librarians at AHL for some more tips on time management and study help!
Using Time Management to Improve Study Skills. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.educationcorner.com/effective-time-management.html
Campbell, R. (2015, February 26). 7 Time Management Tips For Students [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://www.topuniversities.com/blog/7-time-management-tips-students
8 Ways to Take Control of Your Time. (n.d.). Big Future. Retrieved from https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/get-started/inside-the-classroom/8-ways-to-take-control-of-your-time
Henry, A. (2014, February 7). Productivity 101: A Primer To The Pomodoro Technique [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://lifehacker.com/productivity-101-a-primer-to-the-pomodoro-technique-1598992730
Wikipedia. (2017). Getting Things Done. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Getting_Things_Done