There is a phrase called ‘Decision Fatigue’ which may be weighing you down. I first heard about this procrastination phenomenon in a talk by Kerwin Rae. It is based on the principle that we spend so much time thinking about what to do, instead of doing what we wanted in the first place, that we waste time.
How can we stop being unsure what to study and just start studying? It is never too late to organise your time! One approach is to divide your module across calendar weeks available and then split those into days. I know realistically with my own personal study plan that I can manage four hours a day and cover all course content.
Of course, sometimes life gets in the way - plan for it! Scheduling in catch-up time can give much needed respite without panic. This keeps your goals realistic and manageable.
Finding the time in your calendar is key. It is said that busy people have more time, and for me this has been true, as I have had to schedule in my studies and really make the most of what I have. I found four hours a day to study by taking the following steps.
1. Taking time off from social media
Time spent on Facebook or Instagram, or Netflix could be spent on a reading.
2. Use the mundane
Much of my time listening to audios or exposing myself to external wider reading and lectures is spent whilst doing a mundane activity I can’t avoid such as brushing teeth or cooking pasta. These little ten minute bursts can add up to another 20 hours of study, and enhance my exposure to the topic, leading to better understanding. The online VLE is designed with each lecture or topic split into further topics so it’s easier to keep track of which lecture you have seen or listened to. A commute can be an excellent opportunity - putting down Facebook on the train and using that hour to read the core text book is invaluable.
3. Find a study group
A few of my friends are also studying, not at the same university or even the same course, but having other friends who I can ‘study buddy’ with or check in, keeps us all determined and on track.
4. Have a study method
Routine has been a saviour of study for me. Creating good healthy study habits has made it so much easier to ‘get down to work’ and be in the mental zone with limited procrastination. I study for four hours a day approximately, but try not to set yourself goals by time, or you could find yourself watching paint dry and counting it as four hours study. It is much better to study a certain topic or certain activity before taking a break.
5. Keep focused
Drinking two litres of water a day and having a sleep schedule has drastically improved my focus and ability to concentrate, but more so having a set plan already in place, I no longer open my books and waste precious time wondering what to do or where to focus. I can look at my chart and see exactly what I need to do and get started straight away.
6. Track progress
After all the hard work, it’s very rewarding to cross off the topics on your calendar to show how far you have come. This can help keep you on track and stay motivated and give you the best chance of success.
Louise is studying the LLB in the UK.