How to Plan Your Studies
There is often a lot of focus on planning your studies right before the exams or during them, but what about the rest of the year? How do you maintain a healthy balance throughout the year? How do you balance a job with your studies? How do you balance homework, projects, school clubs and hobbies with your study? Let us take a look.
Often the most productive students have a very clear idea of what their day is going to look like through hourly scheduling of each activity. Make a list of everything that needs to get done through the day. Dedicate a reasonable number of hours to each activity and prioritize them based on their respective importance. Consider using a scheduling app or a calendar. Choose one that can synchronize with your email and between your phone and computer for easier scheduling.
Start with creating a designated workspace and a study space. Learning should be done in a comfortable and safe environment. Try to use a study desk in a separate space. Remove any clutter from your place of study. Organize your books, notes and projects along with your room. A lot of moving pieces are involved especially when balancing your job with study and losing an item at a crucial moment can be critical. For example, what if you can’t find the keys right before the job time? Or can’t find the calculator or your bag before the exam? See how small things make a huge difference?
As studies get more advanced, homework requires more time. Add that to the school projects and reports/papers and you have got yourself in a difficult situation. So how do you soar through this situation?
Start with prioritizing what needs the most work. Have to complete a project? Do not rely on the days before deadlines to complete the project. Realize the importance of each task. For example, say that a teacher gives you a report to write and tells you that it will be graded the next day, and another teacher gives you some material to read. What would be the course of action here? In this case, the report should be prioritized.
Project managers use a technique called creating a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) to overcome complex projects on time. This starts with breaking down the project into small yet achievable tasks, all working towards a larger goal called milestone. Multiple milestones come one after another to get to the final project. Milestones can work in parallel for faster completion. Consider dividing the team into smaller teams and assigning a milestone to each sub-team for completion of projects before deadlines.
Flexibility is a positive aspect that comes with modern study practice. Consider using online study tools such as online lectures, Tutor-on-Demand and visual aids to make up for any loss of study. Online tools help you study on your own terms which would not be possible a few years back.
With advancing studies, some students like to get a sense of independence or simply try to earn some extra money through a part time job. Getting a part time job helps you get an idea of what to expect after you graduate. But it is easy to get too much involved in your job life which might adversely affect your studies. How do you balance your day job with studies?
Remember that you are only human and that it is okay to make mistakes. Times will come when you might over-commit to your job. During these times, use your weekends and holidays to make up for the lost studies during the weekdays. It’s also important to take breaks from both school and work.
Many of us have been in situations where the pressure and stress of study or job burdens over the joy of hobbies. Even when you do get some time off, the mental stress takes the enjoyment out of your hobby. So how do you balance it? Start with realizing the importance of your hobby. Your hobby is a source of joy and an escape from what could be a stressful everyday life. Consider it as an essential break without which your overall performance can decrease in quality. Make sure to dedicate some time to your hobby in your schedule and prioritize it.
Consider a productive hobby such as gardening which makes you work in fresh air ultimately aiding your health or going to the gym. Try mental hobbies such as chess or Sudoku which sharpens your mind.
One of the dilemmas the modern world faces is sleep deprivation. This is often caused by people scrolling on their phones right before going to sleep. Try using a blue light filter for your screen which has been scientifically proven to reduce sleep loss due to screen time. Try using apps to reduce screen times. Take a break from social media and consider turning off the notification during the night time hours. It’s also possible to implement a rule that you don’t touch your phone the first and last 30 minutes of the day. Try it out and see if it makes a difference!