Concentration and Time Management
All students have to manage and balance the many conflicting demands on their time:
It is obvious that knowing how to manage your time and make the most of the study time you have are really important skills to learn!
You will be doing a lot of studying on your own. So it's worth making your room a place in which you find it easy to study. Here are four suggestions:
a. The room where you study
a. The room where you study
Make sure you won't be distracted while you're studying.
b. Managing the surroundings
If you're sharing accommodation, arrange times when the house will be quiet for studying. This is specially important if you are an auditory learner.
You may find it helps you to study if you have music playing in the background, but you may find music distracting. Do what helps you concentrate.
You will have a lot of freedom about how you spend your time. On the days when you don't have early lectures or classes, make it easy for yourself to get down to study by treating it as a job with set hours when you do it.
You will know if you're someone who works best in the mornings or late in the evenings. Whichever part of the day suits you, be disciplined about when you do your studying.
Set yourself goals for each study period. Make the goals ones which you can achieve. And reward yourself when you have.
Keep a reminder pad by you when you're studying so you can jot down ideas which could otherwise distract you, like phone calls you need to make, things you need to buy, and so on.
Stop at intervals to move around and give your eyes and brain a rest. This is specially important if you are an active learner.
To make the most of your time at university you need to balance:
This is discussed in the section Why are you here?
At university you're given much more responsibility for organising your own schedule. We're going to give tips on planning your time and using your time.
Planning your time
What do you need to do? Course work, taught sessions, private study?
When are the deadlines for these things to be done by?
Your course information will help you on this.
Enter your commitments for the semester on a planner. That's things like lectures, classes, deadlines and exams.
Choose a planner that suits you: a wall-planner, Filofax, scheduling software, whatever. Keep it somewhere obvious so that you can refer to it. Use different colours to show different activities.
If you're a visual learner it will help to put the scheduler up where you can easily see it.
Organise your study time
Organise your planner a week at a time, deciding what you want to achieve each day.
Mark in your contact time (lectures, tutorials, lab classes).
Organise your social and personal time
Try to balance the different demands on your time. Be realistic: if you get over-tired, you can't study. Schedule time for things you have to do:
If you've got to do something demanding (like plan a major essay) schedule it for when you're at your brightest and most energetic.
You'll need to study in vacations too, but the timetable will be different. Decide how you are going to use the vacation:
One thing you can be sure about your time at university is that there'll be lots of things you could do. You'll probably find it helpful to use a priority graph to help you work out what's most important for you to do each week:
Check your progress to make sure that your planning strategy is up to date.
Plan ahead so you get things done before everything ends up in the ‘Urgent and Important' square.
Using your time
Here are five tips on making the best use of your time. Check that you've read the material on Planning your time first.
Set clear, realistic goals. Split a big task into smaller ones. If there are study tasks that you don't like doing, try putting them at the start of a work session. Get them finished while you're fresh, and then reward yourself with things you enjoy doing.
Variety is important when you're studying. Try not to keep doing the same thing for hour after hour: your eyes and brain will get tired, and you'll stop being productive.
Break up long periods of activity by reviewing how you're doing.
Don't push on if your concentration is flagging.
Take breaks when you need to; when your concentration is slipping, or when you've been looking at the computer screen too long.
But try to avoid distractions like interesting TV programmes or chatty friends. Stay focussed on your work. It's best to make yourself a drink, move around a bit, then get back to study.
Knowing when to stop
When you've achieved the goal you set yourself, stop and reward yourself.
Take the time to do something interesting but not essential. Don't start a new task when you know you won't have the time or energy to finish it.
Knowing what gets in your way
If there are things that get in the way of your studying, such as noise, poor concentration, or lack of motivation, be active in working to overcome them.
If you know you try to ignore difficult or less interesting tasks, then tackle them straight away and then reward yourself with something you like more.
Your next step should be to print out and work through the study guide Being an Independent Learner
There are further helpful tips about time management in the section
Organisation and Managing your Time on Arts.Net
last updated on
October 16, 2008