Timely Tips for Following your Schedule. You can do it baby.

We know, it is darn hard to make yourself follow a schedule that involves things you don’t necessarily want to do. Check out these tips and you’ll be excited when it’s time to study……or maybe not.

-plan to study when you are most alert. If you find that you are tired or you cant concentrate when you study, you probably are not studying at your most alert time. Try to find some blocks of time that are naturally best for you. Some students study best at night, others study best first thing in the morning. Test several times of the day to find out when you are the most ready to study. Experiment with times that you might not initially think are your best times of day-you may surprise yourself and be a morning (or night) person after all.

-spend some time every day on each course you are taking. Even when you don’t have an assignment due, plan some time each day to read the text, review your notes, an prepare for the next class. If you are taking classes that require problem solving such as math or chemistry, it is a good idea to work some problems each night. If you are taking a language class, plan to review new vocabulary or work on verb conjugation every day. By spending some time every day you won’t have to cram for exams because you will always be caught up.

-be specific. The more specific you can be when planning your study schedule, the better because you will know exactly what you need to do each time to study. When you create your schedule, don’t just write down “study.” Instead, write “Read psychology text pages 219-230.”

-prioritize. When you make your schedule, it is helpful to prioritize what you have to do. You might want to label your assignments as “high,” “medium,” or “low” priority.

-make “To Do” lists.

-borrow time-don’t steal it. If you decide to go out for a pizza instead of spending an hour reading your psychology chapter-great. But remember that it’s important to just borrow that time. Be sure to add the activity you missed to your schedule or “to do” list for the next day so that you can make up that time.

-use the time between your classes. Many times students don’t know where all their time goes-an hour in-between classes, two hours between school and work, 15 minutes before classes begin-all of this time adds up and it is useful for getting your work done. You can read for class during hour breaks, review your notes while you are waiting for class to begin, use the time between lunch and class to review, or even meet with a study group in the laundromat. Don’t let this time get “lost.”

-schedule studying breaks. If you plan to study for more than an hour or so at a time, schedule a 10-15 minute break for each hour and a half to two hours of study. You should also plan short breaks when switching from one topic to another so you can give yourself some time to refocus. But be careful that your short breaks don’t turn into long breaks.

-take some time off. Many students feel guilty when they take time off because they are always thinking about the things they “should be doing” such as working on that chemistry lab assignment. But when you have a good schedule, you will be able to reward yourself by taking time off without guilt because you know that you have planned time to get all of your assignments done. So after you have completed your work-relax and enjoy yourself, you deserve it. In fact, you should plan some free time when creating your schedule.

-don’t spin your wheels. If you are having trouble in a course, get some assistance. Seek help from a tutor, a professor, or a friend, anyone who might be able to help. There is nothing that gets in the way of managing your time more than wasting it worrying, rather than doing something productive so that you can be on too of things in a course that is difficult for you. It’s important to get help if you need it and get back on track before you fall too far behind to catch up.

Excerpt from College Success Strategies by Sherrie L. Nist and Jodi Patrick Holschuh.

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