The first thing you need to is get out a pen and paper (or break out good old Word or Excel if that's your thing), and make some lists. You need to figure out what tools you need to study, what assessment needs to be completed, and any other goals you need to work towards. You also need to make lists of other commitments that you have such as work, school pickup, or that weekly Zumba class that keeps you sane.
Figure out what you need to do, when, and roughly how much time you need to smash those goals. It's important to know these things so you can schedule appropriately.
PRO TIP: Write down or type up your lists and keep them somewhere you can see them, like at your desk, to remind yourself and keep yourself accountable. Nothing study related should be a surprise.
Everyone learns differently. Some of us need to write things down, some need to hear instructions out loud, and some of us can’t figure something out until we’ve had a chance to actually do it with our own hands.
There’s no right or wrong way to learn and while most people are a combination of styles there's usually one that resonates more than the others. Knowing your study style will help you figure out a schedule that you will be able to maintain long term.
PRO TIP: Read our blog for tips on how to maximise your learning style in an online environment.
The next step is to prioritise your lists. What is most important to you? What cannot move? What is more flexible? Ranking your lists and commitments (on something like a 1 to 5 scale) helps you schedule and balance your study, life, and work commitments appropriately.
Try to be real with yourself. If you struggle with maths and have a heavily maths-based unit, you probably need to devote more time to that subject. If you know you're an auditory learner you may need to schedule more time to watch recorded lectures, rather than visual learners who may just be able to skim their notes.
PRO TIP: Prioritise the tasks that are looming in your calendar. Tackle the closest deadline first so you don't have to rush your work.
By now you should know what you need to do and when, and it's time to create your study schedule.
Start by creating a table or spreadsheet that divides your week into manageable time blocks. For example, two hour blocks during the week and weekly blocks on weekends.
Plug in your commitments that don't move (like work or gym classes).
Check if there are times each week you can always study (for example 4-6pm every Saturday). Creating a routine will make your study sessions more productive.
Start scheduling your lists, working through them by priorities.
PRO TIP: Depending on how you work best you may want to do this as a generic weekly schedule or alternatively create weekly schedules and work backwards from key dates. Weekly schedules also help you plan around one-off events like family events or out-of-town weddings.
While it's important to schedule your commitments and study sessions it's also equally as important not to overload yourself.
Make sure you leave time for non-study activities so you don't burn out. It's also important to build some padding into your schedule for when things take longer than expected or when life decides to throw a spanner in the works. If you've completely booked yourself out and then need to take a few days off to get over a cold it will throw out your entire schedule. Make sure to leave room for the unexpected.
PRO TIP: 30-45 minute study sessions are easier to slot into your week and keep you more focused than a two hour session. That said, if you've got two hours by all means use it, but switch it up by varying activities or subjects.
Your friends and family are going to be your cheer squad throughout your study journey. But they may also be the ones tempting you with coffee catchups, movies, or long lunches that keep you away from what you need to get done.
So make sure you tell your crew about your schedule and the things that can't move. You can even send them a copy of your schedule if you think it will help. If something comes up that that clashes with your studies you don't have to feel guilty either. Go and do the thing but just make sure you re-schedule your study session for another time.
PRO TIP: Shared calendars (via smart phones and emails) are life savers. Set up a shared calendar with your crew, plug in your important things, and encourage everyone to get on board.
There's no point in making a schedule if you don't stick with it. Get into the habit of keeping a copy of your schedule on you, checking in regularly, using alarms/timers, and getting into a routine.
PRO TIP: Make your schedule work for you. Be detailed, write down the bare bones, or something in between. Whatever helps you get the things done.
For more information on how to get the most out of your studies, check out our STUDENT SUPPORT SERVICES