Tag Archive for: time management

Are you ready to get great results in your studies?

You may already think you have a great routine, but I hope to add a new perspective on what it takes to achieve top grades.

Many people believe that it takes hours and hours of studying to great results, but that may be exactly what’s holding you back.

If you’re struggling with finding that amount of time and still having the life you want, then this is the place for you.

Ready to dive into a behind-the-scenes look at what goes into achieving top academic results?

Study Smarter, Not Harder

If you’ve been finding yourself procrastinating in your studies because you don’t want to be chained to a desk, then you may want to re-evaluate the situation.

Ask yourself, why do I think successful studying requires hours and who benefits from that idea?

Other students at school might tell you that they have spent hours studying, but have they really? Sometimes they just say things like that to psyche you out and boost their own confidence at the same time.

Teachers might tell you that you need to be doing hours every night, but that’s because they need to provide a benchmark based on the average student and they want you to be aware not to leave things to the last minute.

But you’re not the average student.

Because you’ve learned how to study smarter, not harder.

You see, it’s not about the hours you spend at your desk, but about how efficiently you work while you’re there.

My Routine for Working Smarter, Not Harder

I’m happy to say that after many years of struggle I have finally achieved the art of working smarter, not harder, and my routine directly influences my ability to succeed.

A day in my life looks a little like this:

Morning: set my goals for the day, along with a clear to-do list so I don’t waste time having to think about what I should be doing
Afternoon: check my list and re-prioritise tasks if necessary so that I ensure I complete anything that absolutely has to be done today
Evening: tidy up any loose ends, do some small tasks to get me ahead for the next day and move any incomplete tasks to tomorrow’s list. Then I get to spend the rest of the night relaxing and recharging before the next day.

So how does it work?

Mornings

Starting the day with a clear to-do list helps me get my thoughts clear and organised. It also helps me to look for any time saving tricks. For example, if I need to return a book from the library and get new pens for my upcoming exams, I can put those two tasks beside each other and do them in the one trip.

Maybe I can get new books for a different subject while I’m at the library, saving me time on another day.

Knowing exactly what needs to be achieved during the day stops me from wasting time having to think about it. If I have any spare moments I can look at my list and see if I can squeeze anything into that time and get it crossed off my list.

Knowing what I need to do also helps to energise me. It’s much easier to make ourselves work if we’re striving to achieve a specific goal.

Without this, I would feel that I have an unending number of tasks to complete and feel too overwhelmed to actually start.

Afternoons

Before I sit down and get started on my afternoon tasks, I always go back and re-assess my list. Crossing off any achieved tasks provides a great sense of accomplishment and puts me in a positive headspace to keep going.

Sometimes I find that having completed certain tasks I no longer need to worry about others on my list, as they have indirectly been taken care of as well. This is a great boost as now I realise that I have more time than I thought.

If I have time I can systematically work through the rest of my list. If I feel that time is tight, I can re-prioritise the remaining tasks on my list to ensure that I complete those that are essential today.

For example, if I have Biology tomorrow, I will prioritise my Biology homework over my History homework as I don’t have History until the following day.

Evenings

In the evenings I set aside some time for new work and allocate time to revise everything I learned at school during the day.

This gives me an opportunity to consolidate my new learnings and to ensure that I really understand the content. Looking over the work the night you learn it means that you can ask your teacher to clarify anything you don’t understand the next day so you won’t continue to feel lost during the following lessons.

I then use my study planner to guide me on what revision or assignment tasks need to be prioritised.

Breaking any tasks or study down into just 45 minute sessions helps to prevent me feeling overwhelmed by it all.

Before I finish up for the night, I write myself a clear plan for the following night so that I know exactly where I got up to and what still needs to be done. In this way, I can hit the ground running the next night without having to think about where I was at.

So, how does my routine compare to yours?

How is your routine helping you to achieve the best possible results?

Don’t be afraid to change it up or to get rid of parts that don’t work for you.

Remember, I’ve had years to get this sorted. And that’s why I’m sharing it, so that you don’t have to go through the same amount of trial and error to be able to enjoy success.

Whatever works for you is what will work best for getting you the results you really want.

Never be fooled into thinking that the amount of time you spend at your desk is an indicator of how hard you are studying

Let’s be honest here. We’re not always working at our most effective levels when we’re ‘studying’.

It’s easy to get distracted. Suddenly you realise how much your desk needs to be cleaned. Or you turn your to-do list into a work of art rather than actually achieving any of the tasks written on it.

Maybe this looks a little too familiar:

Study Graph

We’ve all done it.

But it’s these bad habits that cause us to feel overwhelmed and resentful of the amount of time we spend not getting anywhere.

If you organise your day, you can achieve far more in far less time.

You Need Discipline to Succeed

Now, just because you’re not currently getting the results you want, doesn’t mean you can’t get those top grades.

But it does mean you that you need to take an honest look at how you spend your time before you can prioritise your tasks for manage your time efficiently. But I know you can do it and am here to support you every step of the way.

Let’s be specific in planning out your day:

  • Step #1 Start with a clear, prioritised to-do list so that you don’t forget any tasks
  • Step #2 Re-evaluate your list during the day to celebrate your progress and to see if any activities can be consolidated or deleted.
  • Step #3 Finish off as much of your to-do list as possible, and complete any revision of new learnings from the day. Think of something you can do to get ahead for the next day (eg read the next chapter in your textbook). Always finish by leaving yourself a clear outline of what you have achieved during the day, and where you need to pick up the next night.

Because I know how important daily organisation is, I put together this free (really free!) guide for you. Use it to organise your day and study smarter, not harder.

Click here to download The 5 Step Daily Planner

Wrapping it Up

Success doesn’t stem directly from the amount of time invested.

If you want to succeed as a student, the trick is to organise your day efficiently so that you can achieve more in less time.

Once you get this right, you will have plenty of time for all the other things you want to enjoy, and will no longer resent having to spend time studying.

So, what do you think? What tips could you adopt from this post to help you plan and organise your time more effectively?

You’re well on your way to getting the results you want by studying smarter, not harder.

Remember, you can download my 5 Step Daily Planner to help you study smarter, not harder right here.

Click here to download my 5 Step Daily Planner

Many students think that mock exams are a waste of time. They’re not ready for the exams yet, and these don’t count, so why bother really trying?

Well, the reason we use mock exams is that both you and your teachers need to see what you don’t know.

There are only a few weeks in the final term until you sit the actual external ATAR exams. Your teachers want to get a clear idea of what they need to focus on in this time.

And so should you.

So, let’s look at what you can learn from the mock exams and what study techniques you can implement from now on to get you the results you want.

Revision

When we revise our work, it is very tempting to just keep going over the stuff that we already know. It gives us a big confidence boost and lulls us into the false belief that we know everything and are ready for the exams. But this is a very ineffective study habit.

In fact, at this stage, we need to STOP revising the content we already know and focus on the work we haven’t yet mastered.

Granted, this won’t be as quick, or as much fun. And it probably won’t give us that same hit of dopamine that we score when we get things right.

But this is where our energy needs to be directed in the lead up to exams.

Ask yourself:

  • What do I need in order to improve my understanding of this content?
  • Do I need to ask my teacher for further help?
  • Do I need to sit more practice exams?
  • Do I need to work through more examples?
  • Or (to be honest), do I just need to take the time and effort to learn this information in the first place?

 Time Management

Perhaps time management was a factor? You knew the answers to the questions, you just ran out of time to get them down onto the paper?

There’s an easy study habit that can help you here.

Make sure that when you test yourself at home you do so under exam conditions.

From your mock exams, you should gain a clear idea of how many minutes you can allocate to each mark on the paper.

When you work another example, be sure to set yourself this same time limit.

There is no point being able to nut out the answer in 45 minutes if you need to do so in 4 minutes in the exam!

Handwriting

Our next study tip is to make sure that you hand write any practice responses – many students struggle to write quickly (and legibly), especially under pressure.

Remember that your marker doesn’t know you and won’t be used to your handwriting. You need to make it as easy as possible for them to read what you have written. The clearer your handwriting the more likely they are to look for any extra information for which they might be able to give you marks.

Practising your writing will help you speed up, and get your hand more used to the process of writing. Use the same pen in revision that you plan to use in the exam. This way your finger will develop a small callous, making the pen more comfortable on the day and enabling you to write for an extended period of time.

Practising your handwriting also helps you determine how many words you can fit into a page This will help give you a visual understanding of how much you need to write in the exam in order to meet the length requirements

Specific vocabulary

Maybe you were pulled down for spelling or for not using subject specific terminology?

Maybe you misunderstood, or failed to acknowledge, the specified cognitive verb you needed to address. Make sure you know what each cognition requires. If a question asks you to ‘analyse’ and you simply ‘explain’, you can’t be awarded top marks no matter how accurate your response.

Now is a great opportunity to make yourself vocabulary lists and ensure that you know how to use and spell these specific words.

Flashcards are a great way to do quick and simple revision.

When you work through your flashcards, sort them into three piles – the content you can recall easily, the content you can recall with effort, and the content you really don’t know at all.

Put aside the cards containing the content you already know.

The cards with the content you can remember with effort can be revisited in every second study session.

It is the cards with information that you really don’t know that need to form the basis of your study moving forward.

Stress

Maybe stress and anxiety were your undoing?

If that was the case, you need to think carefully about what you can do to overcome this issue.

Let’s face it, the stress in the actual exams will be far more intense.

Have you tried meditation or relaxation techniques?

Can you develop a routine or ritual that might help calm your nerves before the exam?

Be wary of studying with friends, or talking to them too much about the exams. If they have prepared differently you may psyche yourself out and decide that their methods are right and yours are wrong. This will cause you to second guess yourself and the many hours of studying and revision that you have done will be wasted.

Now is the time to back yourself. You’ve done the work (I hope!) and now is your time to shine.

There are many different ways to respond to many questions – especially in the humanities subjects. You and your friend might approach it differently but that doesn’t mean that either approach is wrong.

Besides, maybe you’re the one who’s got it right. Why do we always assume that if our ideas are different we must be the one who is wrong?

Try to turn this around and smugly think this is at least one student who doesn’t know as much as you!

A lot of exam success is based on attitude and frame of mind.

Do whatever you need to do to ensure that you enter the exam room in a positive and determined frame of mind, ready to do your best.

So, what study techniques do you need to address in the leadup to exams?

Whatever it is that you need to work on, remember that you still have plenty of time and opportunity to do so. We offer plenty of help for students if you need a helping hand.