Time management for study
He who plans earlier … catches the worm ? No: He simply gets less stressed at the end of the semester. Here you will find out all the essentials of what good time management can look like – and what treacherous time thieves are.
What’s coming up?
The division of time is the framework of learning. Before you allocate your time, however, you must first find out how much time you have available. It is important not only to list your obligations (university, job, household chores, etc.), but also to plan break times, free time, commutes, shopping, etc…
The aim of time planning is to bring structure to everyday work, i.e. to divide it into important and unimportant things and into categories (learning, leisure time, household…). This requires a change in previous habits. Conscious life planning should replace the old routine.
Depending on the individual problem, time management requires different plans. So you can plan the semester, the year, your studies, but also on a small scale, the month, the week, the day. The most effective is to combine long-term planning, short-term planning and daily planning.
A prerequisite for successful scheduling is that you have sufficient information about pending tasks. This puts you in a position to set the necessary priorities to plan the time appropriately. It is important not to overlook both buffers and breaks and to leave room for leisure and relaxation.
Since your time planning should be set out in writing, aids such as diary calendars, weekly, monthly and yearly planners make the work easier. Support from friends, study groups and family is also helpful, especially in the initial phase.
The plan should be as specific as possible. A daily or weekly plan therefore contains details of the hours, an annual plan at least the months, and a monthly plan contains the weeks. There should be both a rough plan as well as a concrete timetable for the finer details. The following applies here: regularly compare planning and reality and adjust the plan if necessary! Especially at the beginning one tends to overestimate oneself.
And last but not least, the best plan is useless if it is not tailored to individual needs and the biorhythm of the individual. A structure that makes sense for you personally has to be created with your own rituals, fixed times and processes as well as an order and overview.
Do it, dump it or delegate it!
Divide pending tasks according to their priority, since not every task is equally important. This can be done, for example, by sub-dividing into A, B and C tasks.
- – do it immediately – very important
- – terminate or delegate
- – delegate and reduce
You can distinguish important things from unimportant things by assessing their urgency. Tasks that come from others are mostly urgent. Fix a friend’s computer, sew on a button for someone, walk a neighbor’s dog…
A rule of thumb: Importance over urgency! So A tasks and emergencies are important.
In order to be able to work with the priority list, it is important not to lose sight of long-term A tasks. For example, it makes sense to work on a long-term, important task every day to prevent a situation where only daily tasks are being completed.
Time thieves keep you from working effectively. These could be, for example: Chatting, making phone calls, checking emails and social media, watching TV … and even cleaning! Becoming aware of these time-wasting distractions is the first step to better scheduling.
In particular for the “time wasters” of mail, e–mails and telephone calls, it makes sense to set up fixed times a day and also to limit this time. So if you like to distract yourself by reading e-mails, it will certainly help you to plan a fixed time for reading and editing from now on and to limit this time according to individual requirements and tasks. For example: I only read and answer emails before studying from 09:00 to 09:30.
Time thieves might also be a lack of planning or methodology: no clear goals, lack of overview, no daily planning. Perhaps you have also developed an unfavorable working style if you get too involved in an exam topic and don’t have time for the 20 other topics. Another quirk can be clutter – if you have your notes from the semester scattered in countless places, you’ll end up having to schedule that time twice and unnecessarily.
External interruptions, such as phone calls, spontaneous visits or a noisy workplace eat up time and disrupt concentration. You can’t do anything about external factors? You’re only fooling yourself. Have you ever tried the power button on your smartphone? Or tried the bustling cafeteria with the small, unknown institute library on the outskirts of town to study?
However, problems can also come from within yourself, e.g. if you lack the ability to say “no”, you procrastinate important things or work becomes unfocused. Once you identify the problems, you can address them effectively (see remaining sections).
In particular, it is worth noting that it helps to start with the task that is least popular. This makes the following tasks much easier.
If you are frequently interrupted by your roommates or friends, a sign saying “Do not disturb” will help. Or turn off the ringer and put the phone in flight mode. In addition, friends will understand if you explain that study time has now been scheduled, but that you can devote more time to their concerns in your free time.
With long-term planning, you can, for example, prepare for a semester and its exams. But it is also possible to plan your studies, or a certain part of your studies etc. If you want to start with the whole course, you can, for example, set up a long-term plan that records what you want to achieve each semester. And then, at the beginning of each semester, plan this semester again. And then tackle the weekly planning during the semester.
The course schedule serves as a rough overview. What has to be done for your modules is recorded here, as well as internships and stays abroad. The necessary information can be found in the examination regulations, study regulations, study guides and can also be obtained from the subject advisory service.
For semester planning, it is a good idea to create a table showing which tasks are due and when. For each week, the goals are set for each area. If, for instance, there is reading to be done, a certain number of pages can be recorded per week. The important thing here is that you shouldn’t overdo it. It is good if you plan time for repetition before exams in your long-term planning.
And then annual festival comes along and suddenly you don’t have time for anything anymore? Of course, you can continue to devote yourself to your private pleasures and regular leisure activities. You should just schedule them early so you don’t end up in total stress.
If you work consistently throughout the week, give yourself a day off from college entirely. This is for recreation. In this way, you can work all the more effectively in the remaining time.
All problems may not always be solved with better time management. Unfortunately, very few guide articles and books admit this. Thus, any failure appears to be a purely individual problem, but sometimes study conditions are simply difficult to solve in everyday life when the curriculum is simply too full. Of course, a sudden illness can only be planned to a limited extent.
If everything doesn’t work anymore and you don’t achieve all the goals for the semester, you have to pull the ripcord and simply reschedule. Maybe a counseling center can help you to solve a problem.
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