Natasha: 3 simple steps to make the most of your study time
Natasha is currently working full-time and studying a Bachelor of Laws. She aims to use the three strategies discussed in this blog to stay on track and finish her degree as soon as possible.
Everyone wishes to be more organised, better at prioritising and a whiz at mastering their diary. The problem is that sometimes, trying to tackle one problem creates more because we overcomplicate matters.
I currently work full-time as a paralegal and study law full-time so, in order to maximise the time I have available, these tips help me when preparing for exams or working on assignments. I came to USQ with the goal of finishing my degree as quickly as possible, so I had to come up with some strategies to help me get there without sacrificing my grades or too much of my personal life. This last 12 months, I’ve managed to complete nine courses and am on track to finish my degree by the end of 2019.
These tips are simple and require very little time to put into practice, so even time management beginners can get off to a running start each semester.
1. Be realistic when writing lists
When it comes to writing your to-do lists, be brutal and record only the essential tasks. We’d all like to have the time to do the extra readings each week, but it may not help you maximise each course for the semester. That’s not to say that you should only do the bare minimum, but that it’s more important to focus on what you have to get done and save the extra work for each course or module you’re studying for when you have some extra time. You’re being assessed on the objectives of each course, so if the extra tasks or reading material don’t contribute to your understanding of the key topics, don’t go there if you haven’t got the time.
Life is all about balance, so it’s important to incorporate other tasks into your list and prioritise accordingly. If you have housework and personal errands or commitments, then put those on the list too. There’s no point having multiple lists because you just won’t be able to keep track of everything. Consolidating everything into one list will ultimately help with adherence. If you can see everything prioritised on one list, it’ll be much easier to follow.
2. Know how you spend time
Keep track of the time you’re spending on each task and record it in a notebook. It’ll help you identify inefficiencies, manage competing tasks and help you spread your time across each course.
Start out by setting yourself time limits for each task and when the time runs out, move onto the next one. Apart from ensuring you give each course equal study time, this strategy will help ease the stress of managing competing tasks and exams.
This was particularly useful during the most recent exam block, when I had four exams in one week. Giving myself realistic time limits helped ensure that ample time was given for each course and I was able to make more efficient use of my time to get my exam revision done.
3. Read the course specifications
The course specifications can give you a good indication of the topics you’ll need to spend the most time on. Each topic is given a weight in the course so don’t waste time you don’t have by spending hours researching a topic that weighs 5% versus topics that weigh 30%, because you will have greater return on your investment of time focusing on the topics that are worth more marks.
Managing a busy personal life, work and study can be difficult, but implementing some of these strategies can help you take control of your time and help you make the most of your degree. I’m a control freak now but I wasn’t always this organised. It takes time, but trust me, it’s well worth it. I never would have imagined that I would be capable of managing full-time study and full-time work, but it’s possible with the right tools.
If Natasha has inspired you to better manage your study time, check out more free advice, tips and templates by visiting the time management tag on USQ's Social Hub.