Begin with the most difficult subject or task first and focus on one key task at a time
Are you juggling your work with distance learning and trying to find more time to fit in your studies? Then help is at hand, in this article we take a look at how good time management will enable you to focus on study tasks that matter.
Organising your time is a key starting point. Work out what you want to achieve on a day to day basis, week to week and also your long term goals that count towards completing your degree.
Use a planner to block out your schedule for all of your commitments for study, work and personal or social life for the next few months. Think of empty time as well, maybe you have a regular half hour on your daily journey to work. Use the period to read or revise and it will all add up over a week.
A single to do list is helpful with which you can use reminders to track progress and timers to start the next item. This will keep you on track. Keep it where it readily reminds you of what to prioritise. Further on we highlight apps like Toodledo, a powerful productivity app for organising your to-do-lists.
If you have a number of tasks to work through, prioritise important tasks from urgent and important first and lesser ones further down. You can also batch similar tasks together which are related to sustain focus.
Check you emails at fixed points during the day and let your voice mail take calls. Put aside dedicated time slots to deal with email and respond to calls. Banish dipping into activities like Facebook and social media, do this in your down time or as reward time for completing tasks.
If you multi-task too much you won’t get as much done in your time blocks.
If you are doing research reading, close any distractions like the internet or email. Read in a quiet place free of people, noise and distractions.
It’s important to take regular breaks. You will be more effective for the next part of the day. If you can fit in activity, exercise is a good idea and will reinvigorate you.
On a regular basis review your plans and consider whether your study pattern is successful. You might find you are less productive in the evening and should reschedule some tasks. In your weekly review go over your assignments, notes, calendar, deadlines and track the time spent, it will provide useful planning info for the next year of study.
Useful planning and study apps
Use the calendar tools in Microsoft outlook or Google Calendar to create task lists and set reminders. These can be even more effective if you sync to your mobile or other devices.
Toodledo is a powerful productivity app for organising your to-do list and notes. This is a well rated app with the ability to keep things simple or add as much complexity as you want in managing your lists.
iStudiez Pro is another well rated app to help you manage your time, track tasks, deadlines and arrange assignments. It comes with Cloud syncing to back up documents and you can integrate iCal or Calendar, the personal calendar application by Apple. This app enables you to sync between all your devices and it is currently localized into more than 25 languages.
Evernote is an invaluable way to organise research and it can sync all your work to an online account where you can access it on multiple devices. It has many other useful tools like web clipping for clipping PDFs, quotes and more all into one place. It is also good for annotating web pages and excellent for organising notes.
Flashcards can be an effective way to memorize information or prepare for a presentation on your course work. With StudyBlue you can create and customize your own flashcards with text, images and audio. You can even share information or ask questions with a study partner and track your progress over time.
EasyBib will save lots of time manually writing in citations. This app generates citations in MLA, APA and Chicago style. Scan the book’s bar code or enter the book title. You can easily email and export the bibliographies to yourself. The support section on EasyBib’s website contains lots of tutorial videos on how to get the most out of it’s features and tools.
Notella has a super fast note taking app called Launchwrite. If you sync this with Dropbox, Evernote or Simplenote it stores all your notes and documents in one easy to find place and works in real-time.
For students who like to collaborate Padlet works like an online sheet of paper or wall where you can add content from any device at any time. Information can be added in the form of images, videos, documents and text in real time. If you are a BA English student and want to collaborate with your class mates, this simple example uses a wall containing the word of the day: fascinate. On it students add the word to sentences to explore different ways of using it in language.