How to Manage an Effective Study Schedule
Time management is one of those skills that we’re not taught, but we develop with time and practice. It’s essential for success in many of life’s endeavours, including in the workplace and at business school. When we are good at managing our time, we are likely to have increased levels of productivity and lower levels of stress.
For postgraduate students, many of whom continue to work full-time while studying, effective time management is key to study success. One of the most important and universally used tools is a study planner, which, when used effectively, can help you work steadily towards your goals and achieve a good balance between commitments. Consider the below tips when planning your study schedule.
Find your ideal routine
Consistency within a study schedule will help to create positive study habits. Whether you like to do a bit of coursework each night after work, or you prefer to spend a block of time on weekends to complete your assignments, the key to success is finding a pattern of study that suits your individual needs. Once identified, factor this routine into your study planner. Remember, routines should serve you; you shouldn’t be a slave to them.
Start your day early and end on time
Balance between work, life and study comes from planning ahead and using your time wisely. After all, time is our most valuable commodity. One of the best ways to get ahead in your study schedule is to start the day early, even if it is for a personal activity such as exercise. Starting earlier than you normally would allows you to kick-start the day and tick off some important tasks early, minimising pressure later in the day. It’s also important to finish at a set time so that routine can be maintained and balance can be achieved.
Track key dates in your study planner
First and foremost, your study planner should contain all significant dates that are pertinent to your degree. This includes exam dates, due dates for assessments and particular milestones – all of which should be noted right at the start of the study period. It can also be worth putting reminders in a few weeks before important dates to prompt you to take action before then. This ensures you’re clear on what is required of you for your particular subjects, and keeps you on track for meeting these deadlines.
Don’t plan study in isolation
It’s all well and good to compartmentalise your major priorities, but if your study schedule is not taking into consideration work, wellbeing activities, family and social commitments, it won’t be an achievable plan. Block out key times and days when you know study won’t be a priority, such as when on study-free holidays or attending important events, and then plan backwards.
Consult your study planner regularly
Most people can relate when we say “the only constant is change”, so it’s important to take a look at your planner on a regular basis and make any necessary adjustments. Review it when you start a study session to see what’s ahead of you, and at the end of each week to know what is approaching in the following one. Ensure your study planner is as accessible as possible, either in digital form or hard copy – whatever works best for how and where you study.
Don’t forget contingencies
Life happens! If you plan for a small amount of contingency time before and after each commitment, you won’t have significant issues or stress if commitments run overtime. It also allows for short breaks, which can be very helpful for refreshing your mind and increasing productivity.
Know your limits
At the end of the day, you can only do what is humanly possible, so be mindful of overcommitting to study (and life too). If you know that a particular commitment is going to be a tight squeeze, it’s okay to re-prioritise or ask for help. It will not only help you to stick to your plan, but it will also prevent you from feeling overwhelmed.
This article was written by Laura Hutton on behalf of the Australian Institute of Business. All opinions are that of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of AIB.