Organize Your Days

Being a good student does not necessarily mean studying day and night and doing little else. Include time for classes and studying as well as time for other activities. keep the following points in mind as you organize your day:

Set realistic goals for your study time. Assess how long it takes to read a chapter in different types of textbooks and how long it takes you to review your notes from different instructors and schedule your time accordingly. Give yourself adequate time to review and then test your knowledge when preparing for exams. Online classes often require online discussions and activities that take the place of face-to-face classroom instruction, so be prepared to spend additional time on these tasks.

Use waiting time to review (on the bus, before class, before appointments). Prevent forgetting what you have learned by allowing time to review as soon as is reasonable after class. (Reviewing immediately after class might be possible but not reasonable if you are too burned out to concentrate!) Invest in tools (note cards, digital recorders, flash card apps, etc.) to convert less productive time into study time.

Know your best times of day to study. Schedule other activities, such as laundry, e-mail, or spending time with friends, for times when it will be difficult to concentrate. If you have children or significant family obligations at home, plan to complete homework early in the morning or later in the evening when family members are asleep to maximize your concentration.

Restrict repetitive, distracting, and time-consuming tasks such as checking your e-mail, Facebook, or text messages to a certain time, not every hour. This strategy is especially important if you take online classes and complete most of your coursework at home, where distractions abound.

Avoid multitasking. Even though you might actually be quite good at it, or at least think you are, the reality is (and research shows) that you will be able to study most effectively and retain the most information if you concentrate on one task at a time.

Let others help. Find an accountability partner to help keep you on track. If you struggle with keeping a regular study schedule, find a friend, relative, or classmate to keep you motivated and on course. If you have children, plan daily family homework times and encourage family members to help you study by taking flash cards wherever you go.

Be flexible. You cannot anticipate every disruption to your plans. Build extra time into your schedule so that unexpected interruptions do not prevent you from meeting your goals. Also, be prepared for different time challenges with new classes every term.