If the heavy workload is getting you down, use these tips to manage your time better
By Meenal Arora
We usually view our exams as being unduly stressful and hard; we even end up feeling that studying for them is akin to climbing a mountain! But there are ways and means of dealing with academic stress and the demands exams - especially competitive exams such as the IIT-JEE - make on us: Get organised and you’ll deal with
academic life with ease!
The key to organising your
studies is to divide your syllabus up and focus on proper time management. As such, there is no golden rule that works for everyone. The best way to organise your studies is to find one that works best for you - perhaps even by trial and error!
Here are some tips that may help you work out your own system for organising your time for
Do a personal time survey: A
personal time survey will help you estimate how much time you currently spend in typical activities, and where you should focus on. It will also help you identify your ‘time wasters’. Tally up your normal or usual figures for:
- Number of hours of sleep each night
- Time spent on grooming
- Time spent on meals/snacks
- Time spent travelling for school/activities
- Time spent on sports/hobbies
- Time spent on chores, shopping, etc.
- Time spent in class each week
- Time spent socialising
The remaining hours are the hours you have allowed yourself to study. Now, you’ll have to see where you can make adjustments and change your schedule so that you get enough time for studies! Do remember to balance your various academic commitments - you may have to prepare for your XII Boards, for the JEE, and perhaps for BBA entrance - all at the same time. Make sure you make space for each one!
Develop blocks of study time and breaks: As your school term begins and your course schedule is set, develop and plan for blocks of study time in a typical week. Split large tasks into smaller, more manageable ones. Ideally, study blocks should be for around 50 minutes but you might become restless after only 30 minutes. Build up your focus and concentration slowly - don't set yourself an impossible target right away. You must divide your time between all the subjects you’re preparing for, and allot time according to your comfort with the subject. If you feel you’re weak in a certain subject, allot more time to it.
So, plan your study time as
according to your capabilities and nature. For example, place blocks of time when you are most productive - are you are a morning person or a night owl?
Find dedicated study spaces: Determine a place free from distraction (no cellphones or gaming
consoles) where you can maximise your concentration and be free of the distractions that friends or hobbies can bring. You should also have a back-up space that you can escape to, like the school library or another room.
Know your syllabus: Refer to the syllabus and get acquainted with it. As you go through the table of contents of your subject textbooks, you will see familiar topics that may have already been introduced in previous classes. You should have a clear picture of familiar and unfamiliar topics. Don't rush ahead without cementing the basics.
Prioritise your assignments: Discover your difficulty areas and the subjects or topics that make you feel pressurised. Always get in the habit of beginning with the most difficult subject as you'll be fresh and have more energy! For the difficult
courses of study, try to be flexible.
Achieve ‘stage one’ and get
something done: Postpone unnecessary activities until the work is done - especially tasks or routines that can be put off until your school/competitive exam studies are finished. Identify the first step of your assignment to get yourself started. Find out the one distraction that causes you to stop studying. Think in terms of pride of accomplishment. And as we all need time to unwind, say ‘later’ instead of ‘no’ when it comes to co-curricular activities!
Identify resources to help you: Study with an expert friend, hire a tutor, or enrol in test prep classes to make sure you have the best resources. An old adage states, “Two heads are better than one.” A study group can help you do better as you have access to greater resources. Select people who seem to share your desire to reach your academic goals. Look for people who stay alert in class, who take notes, ask questions, and respond to the teacher’s
Use your free time wisely: Think of times when you can study ‘bits’ - perhaps when on the school bus. When you look at your day in detail, you will definitely find tasks that can be combined or made more efficient. You'll also find little spaces that can be used for either real relaxation or quick brushing-up of notes.
Listen and make notes effectively: An important step towards successful studying lies in taking notes as this helps you remember and recall information later. A tip - for note taking, use abbreviations wherever possible.
Review Weekly: Weekly reviews and updates are an important strategy. Each week, review your assignments, notes, calendar, and schedule. Be attentive to new/changing deadlines, exams, and responsibilities - your weekly routine must adapt to them. See where you stand, and how you can move your preparations into top gear!
Follow the ‘5 more Rule’: Develop and strengthen the power of concentration and focus on the FIVE MORE rule: Read FIVE MORE pages, finish FIVE MORE math problems, work FIVE MORE minutes, etc. This helps you build your focus up and slowly exercise you ‘concentration muscles’! Also, make sure that you always do one thing at a time - pay your undivided attention to the task at hand - whether studying or
By organising your time and study schedule, you can understand your lessons better, retain them well, and score higher in examinations. Being organised also helps you reduce the anxiety, nervousness, and stress that result from a lack of preparation. As a student, you have many demands on your time, and not enough hours in the day - or so it seems! Hence, it is extremely crucial for you to organise your time and develop smart, study skills so that you can do your best. I hope these suggestions will help you organise your day better, study smart and reduce pressure. Do remember that developing time management skills is a journey and not a one-time affair - get started now and it’ll pay dividends when you head to college!
About the author
Mrs Meenal Arora, a Post-Graduate in Management from Delhi University’s prestigious Shri Ram College of Commerce and Doctoral Researcher in Education Leadership & Management at the University of Nottingham, UK, is the Executive Director of Shemrock & Shemford Group of Schools, which operates over 175 pre-schools and schools across the country and abroad. A well-known children’s author, Mrs Arora has to her credit numerous pre-school books and several research papers. She has also co-produced a very popular collection of children’s audio CDs. Her contributions have been acknowledged by the government, which declared her the ‘Woman Entrepreneur of the Year 2008’, and the PTA of India, which presented her with the Parent Teacher Golden Jubilee National Award for her contributions in the field of 'Parental Participation in School Education'