Now, let’s get you organised with a weekly study schedule. The key is to plan, plan, plan!
Using a weekly study schedule helps you to “book” in the times that will work best for your study. It allows you to develop a routine, and will keep you on track when life gets busy. Be flexible though – if you miss a study session, move it to another time slot if you can.
Include your goals in your study schedule to motivate you! And remember to always ask for help if you need it – see your teacher or a TAFE counsellor.
Things to do
For each weekly class at TAFE Illawarra, you may need to allocate at least one hour for private study to complete learning and practice activities, assessment tasks, pre-reading and exam preparation. However, you may have a range of other competing commitments in your life such as work, family, relationships, hobbies, etc.
So where does study fit in?
Often there is not enough time to do everything you want to do. You may need to make some decisions about your time, to make sure you complete the important things.
Keeping your goals in mind will help you to decide the difference between important and not so important things. Write down the answers to these questions:
- What needs doing? (this is the important stuff)
- When do you need to do it by?
- What can be left undone? (things that aren’t really important)
Are you managing your time effectively now?
- Write all of your activities in a diary for a week so that you can review how you are currently spending your time.
- Decide whether you are spending most of your time on the important stuff (e.g. study, family). Or do you notice yourself putting off the important things for other distractions (e.g. TV, social media, etc.)?
- Set up a weekly study planner to help you focus on the important things.
Try some of these strategies for working smarter, not harder.
Add start dates and due dates for your assignments to your diary or calendar. This will help you to avoid doing all of your work at the last possible minute. Leaving your work until the last minute is always risky – something urgent might come up or your equipment might not work and then you could miss the deadline. You should build some time into your schedule to allow for technical problems, since they always seem to happen when you can least afford them.
Set goals for each study session and for each task within a session. Spend a few minutes at the beginning of each study session to decide what you are going to do. Assess your progress at an appropriate interval (every 30 minutes for longer study sessions, every 10-15 minutes for shorter sessions).
Summarise your work and set tasks for the next session. Take a few minutes at the end of each study session to review your progress. Identify what task or tasks you need to do at your next study session. Identify any information or resources you need to get before working on the course again, such as asking your teacher a question or borrowing resources from the library.
Once you know how much time is needed for each of your courses, you’ll need to find the best way to fit this in with your other activities. Using a weekly planner is a good way to help you get a realistic view of your commitments throughout the week. Download the My Weekly Study Planner activity sheet below and set up your weekly schedule.
When using the weekly study planner, mark in all of your regular weekly activities including:
- study commitments
- work commitments
- family and social commitments
- sporting activities
- household chores
- travel to and from any of the above.
Remember to allow for some unscheduled time. This gives you a chance to swap commitments or to accommodate unforeseen events that might occur.
Highlight times when study will have the highest priority for you, for example at assessment time. Let your family and friends know that you are not available at these times.
Don’t forget to include some relaxation time. Having some time to rest and relax will actually improve your ability to learn and the quality of your study time.
Managing your time can be hard, but remember to strive for balance between study and life. If you don’t seem to have enough hours in the day to do what you need then review the planner and consider the following things:
- Are you expecting too much of yourself?
- Have you over-committed yourself?
- Do you need to reduce, postpone or give up an activity to re-allocate this time to study?
Finally, don’t be afraid to ask for help – your teachers and the cousellors at TAFE Illawarra are only too happy to help you along!