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How to make an effective study schedule
July 7th 2021 by Louise Z
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Why Use A Study Planner?
With exams fast approaching, getting real value out of the time spent studying is key. Try adjusting and settling into a routine, with the aid of this simple tool. It’s not just about getting more work done, there's also psychological benefits in knowing that there’s a plan and being able to actually see what you’ve accomplished at the end of each day/session.
The Intu study planner is a great tool, where you can throw down all your tasks and prioritise what needs to be completed within your day. Reflection is also critical to help you learn from your experiences and make tweaks and improvements. There’s no rule to this, but do it consciously; be true to yourself and take comfort in knowing that following your plan will work.
Tips and food for thought; use these alongside the study planner to design your sessions to work for you!
Establish a good routine
Time and time again, you'll encounter things that will disrupt your ability to create a routine. Sometimes these disruptions are entirely in your hands and at other times they're out of your control - just look at what happened with the COVID pandemic!
To minimise the effect of these disruptions, make sure to set aside a particular time each day for study & revision and stick to it. This can help you create a habitual workflow.
Steps in the routine
1. Starting your day
Setting a consistent start and finish time can help provide stability to your day.
Get up early, make your bed, and do something you enjoy - don’t let your phone be the first thing you start swiping through!
Whether it be physical exercise, a nice breakfast or just taking a minute to watch the sunrise, having a consistent morning routine will make it easier for you to get out of bed and get your day started.
If you’re having trouble getting up early, set your alarm clock 15-20 minutes earlier each day until you reach your desired waking time.
2. Planning your day
Get out your school timetable, your personal diary or calendar and start surveying the day ahead. List out the tasks and targets for the day and making note of the really important ones - ones of highest priority!
This is where the Intu Study Planner comes in…
Prioritise your tasks
It’s helpful to write everything you want to achieve on your to-do list and then number each task based on what’s most urgent.
On the study planner there's space to jot down all your tasks and also highlight three priorities you have for the day.
Don't dwell & Include variety
Don’t get stuck on one thing to which you devote your entire day. It's important that you stick to your plan and move on. Add some variety to your tasks to allow for some flexibility in the case you do get stuck. Sticking to the plan includes taking breaks etc.
3. The Study Session
Find a productive study environment
Find or create a space that you feel most productive in. It can be tempting to do a quick scroll through Instagram to see what your friends are doing when you're supposed to be studying. Why not incorporate that into your plan as part of your break. BUT don’t try to do the two simultaneously, be honest, this is your own plan.
Create a space where you can limit as many distractions as possible and be the most productive you can be.
Whether it be listening to a certain genre of music or changing up the lighting, everyone finds it different in their own way. So try new areas until you find an environment that best suits you!
Once you find this space and are comfortable and productive in it, try to extend your time between breaks to train yourself into focusing for longer periods. This practice can be beneficial as you approach sitting exams where you need to concentrate intensely for up to three hours!
Setting SMART goals helps with productivity, clarity and getting work done. It's a great way to help you set tasks in order to maximise your time.
- S - Specific: Something that is exact. E.g. Don't say "I will do some maths", instead say "I will do questions 11-12 of the 2020 School Trial".
- M - Measurable: Something that has a beginning and an end; trackable, will you know when you've reached it?
- A - Achievable: Something that can be done and doesn't have many external dependencies.
- R - Realistic: Something that you can actually get done; don't just plan for the sake of it.
- T - Timed: Need to time-box your task, time is your most valuable resource at the moment.
Use this approach to space out your tasks throughout the day.
Look after yourself
Make a conscious effort to drink plenty of water and eat whole foods to help fuel your body and mind. When planning your study session, be sure to consider time to refresh, rewind and refuel your body!
The study planner has an inbuilt water and break tracker as a fun way to tick off these habits.
4 . Wrapping Up The Day
As you approach an hour or so before your intended bedtime, start finalising the task you’re working on and reflect on your day’s work.
Evaluate your session
The Intu study plan has simple self evaluation measures you can use to mindfully evaluate your session to improve in future. Mindfully writing out incomplete tasks which you'll need to finish & listing out areas of improvement can help you understand what is or isn't working.
Anything you weren’t able to complete needs to be considered in your plan/s for the following day/s, so just plainly dump these incomplete tasks onto what would be the next day’s planner! This will free up a lot of your short term memory and give you direction in kick starting the next day’s study. To really help you feel like the day is coming to an end and to get you ready to sleep, start thinking about some small things for the next day - like selecting your outfit, breakfast, or what exercise you’ll be doing.
5. Getting To Sleep
At this stage you’re all set to get your day started tomorrow and you need your rest. By establishing a nightly routine, you will signal to yourself that it is well and truly bedtime and falling asleep at a healthy time becomes an easier process - you must develop good sleep hygiene!
Allow roughly 30mins to 1hr for the entire routine from when you start to when you fall asleep. Everyone is different in this regard, so try to learn what works for you. It could be reading a book or perhaps meditating for just 15 minutes before actually laying in bed.
While in bed, avoid your phone, gaming and watching television... These tend to be mentally stimulating activities and it will condition your mind to associate getting to bed with activities that are not relaxing. This slows down the whole process of falling asleep and reduces the quality of your sleep.
If you’ve felt your motivation levels drop whilst trying to study during quarantine, you’re definitely not alone! Whether its’ a full lock down or socially distancing yourself, your daily study routine has no doubt changed. Just remember that we are all sharing this experience and no matter what your results are, getting through these times is an enormous achievement.
Uncertainty has been one of the most challenging hallmarks of COVID-19, however there are some ways to work through it. Remember that there is always someone you can reach out to for help - i.e. at intu you can utlise Ask a Tutor or book extra online tutorials. Reach out to your friends and collaborate with each other. Look after yourself by taking regular study breaks, eating well, sleeping and exercising. Remaining optimistic will give you that added motivation to keep studying even during this difficult time. So keep going and try as hard as you can, but don’t wear yourself out!
Building your study routine and habits is an important skill, transferable to many aspects of your future. These habits will help you drive success in whatever you’re preparing for.
Leverage other tools
If a study planner alone isn't working for you, consider other ways to keep yourself on track. A calendar app where you can set reminders and box in time to start and end your study session can be really helpful to stop you from procrastinating. A rolling to-do list where you can be flexible and break your projects up into smaller, actionable tasks can prevent you from feeling overwhelmed, if you think you have too much on your plate.
It's even more so the case at uni! Using something as simple as a study plan is an effective way to help you navigate through uni & hold yourself accountable for your own learning outcomes. You’ll see that the key to becoming an effective student is figuring out how to study smarter, not harder. When you start your uni career, there may not be enough hours in the day to fit in studying, socialising and work if you aren’t being efficient with your time.
It's a transferable skillset that's valued and sought after when applying for cadetships, internships or grad roles etc.
Planning and time management is a major consideration during any recruitment process. Your routines and study habits are a great way to showcase your planning, time management and organisational skills. Being organised and following a routine will boost your confidence and help you achieve your goals!