As a professional going back to school, it’s important to make sure that you have enough time to study. Whether preparing for an exam or staying on top of homework, your success as a student may depend on how you use your time outside of class. These six steps may offer tips to help those who are struggling to find time to balance school, work and life.
1. Identify Your Priorities
Think about your goals. “More time to study” is often too broad a goal. List your priorities specifically. Perhaps your primary issue is that you struggle finding time to prepare for exams. You may have issues with procrastination, like waiting to write a term paper until the night before it’s due. Whatever your issue, it may be helpful to clarify exactly what you have difficulty with and where you’d like to see improvement.
2. Keep a Log of Your Daily Habits
Try to spend some time and at how you structure your days. What is your morning routine? How much time do you typically spend on entertainment? What other activities do you try to include in each day? How much sleep do you tend to get? At this stage, you’re not questioning whether any of these activities are useful; you’re simply fact-finding and trying to understand where your time goes.
3. Analyze Your Routines
After you detail your daily schedule, analyze specific patterns or timeframes. Certain activities may be grouped into categories, such as health, work or entertainment. By grouping activities in this way, you can start to understand the amount of time you spend on each area of your life. It can also be useful at this point to try to reflect on your mood or energy level with each of your activities. Do you tend to spend time on various entertainment activities at certain points of the day? When do you find yourself working most effectively?
4. Eliminate Unnecessary or Redundant Tasks
Start to trim your schedule down a bit. Look at areas of your schedule where you tend to spend too much time. You might find yourself spending a good part of your free time with entertainment, for example, or scanning through social media. You don’t have to cut out such activities entirely, unless you find them doing more harm than good. Instead, try to be mindful and cut down on things that might not be as important for your studies.
5. Change the Script
With your tasks trimmed, change your routine to fit in study time, along with other daily commitments. Write down the tasks that remain in your day and those that you now plan to include.
6. Test and Make Adjustments
Routines can be useful, and it’s important to try to stick with them. That said, you shouldn’t view your new routine as set in stone. Test your routine and find what works and what doesn’t. In order to avoid making more adjustments than necessary, you should give yourself a set timeframe to experiment: perhaps a month or two. After that period, you should reassess your routine and make adjustments if necessary. Research has suggested that it can take an average of two months to form a new habit. If you find yourself struggling, try to remind yourself that adjustment is normal.
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