Studying for the PSLE Syllabus? GCE O’ levels? IGCSE? IB IP Programme? Just had a talk with an MOE officer the other day and an interesting topic came up regarding time management skills of students. She said that in general, the most improved students came from those that instilled some skills on prioritising their work and studying time before attempting their exams. It is an essential studying skill that once inculcated into a habit, will improve grades and in general, the work efficiency of the student.
That brings me to write this article. Managing time effectively helps you to get your studies in order and into sharp focus. So here’s some tips and tricks that you can employ to great effect.
What is important to you? Sit down, have a good think, write it down. Rate it in importance.
Do the most important work first. That lowers your stress levels and a chance of Murphy’s Law.
Don’t do it.
That might sound easy to do, but takes a lot to get rid of from your system. “Hang on, let me finish this game” or “Maybe I’ll do it tomorrow.” Guilty? As charged!
How do we know we are procrastinating?
Catching yourself doing this:
- Doing something less important and thinking that it is still work done anyways. Swapping out your top priorities into doing something useless makes you tired before you actually do what is important to you.
- Saying that you will do it tomorrow.
- Switching your work midway. Doing a sum and suddenly think you need to call your friend to check if she is home safe. Then walk into the kitchen to try to make yourself a hot drink. Then suddenly realise it is time to shower. No, the latest episode on TV is showing. What was I supposed to do again?
- Doing a lot of planning and a week later, you are still in the planning stage.
- Writing a lot of notes, neatly, color it, highlighting it. Making sure all your points are inside. Before you know it, exams starts tomorrow. Where did all the time go? Into making pretty notes… Yikes.
- Saying I need to study more. I will do better, I am going to get an A1. All these sentences makes for a recipe for procrastination. Wishing you will do something about it gives you a false sense of doing something without doing it.
So how do we start on the journey of lesser procrastination? Fill your planner up. Stick to it. That is one reason why teachers gives you homework. They are trying to fill your schedule up, just like if you are working and your boss inundates you with work. They are trying to get you to start down the road of efficient time management. It is a microcosm of what you will end up handling when you start working. So don’t blame your teachers for giving you so much work, its training grounds for you to be able to handle the big bad world.
So here’s some tips on stopping the procrastination wolf from blowing your world down:
Get a routine
Morning to school, Afternoon back home. A good lunch and down to the books. Get in 3 solid study hours. A nice shower and keep yourself fresh. Nice dinner, an hour of YOU time. Then finish off your assignments. Off to sleep and repeat. And repeat. And repeat.
That is just an example. For yourself, tailor a routine that you are comfortable with and get used to it. Make small changes to make it more efficient and constantly evolve to make the routine relevant to your workload. That helps you in a few ways.
- It lowers the need for you to figure out what to do next.
- It makes you really good at what you do as you repeat it all day. Every day. Experience counts.
- It makes you realise where the dead spaces are where you do nothing and plug those holes with work.
- It helps you to organise your planner as you know how much you can do in a day in turn schedule your future plans effectively.
- Makes you eek out small scraps of time that you didn’t know existed, like when you are brushing your teeth, spending too much time eating, etc.
Have a plan
Strategy wins a war. Take time to plan your winning strategy and know that you are the winner at the end. That helps you to put tangible milestones to your schedule. You know how far you are from achieving your aims. Clarity of aim gives you a perspective of the landscape you are traveling through. It also helps you to avoid putting things off. It has to be done by a certain time frame and you know when you are off track and needs a kick to get you going again.
Have a planner and plan your time. Priorities that you want to achieve should be organised and work your way backwards. For example, if it takes you 6 weeks to complete your work, set a date you want to achieve it and count backwards 6 weeks. Put a start date to it. And have a countdown. Stick to the schedule and monitor your progress on the planner. If you are on track, put a tick. Getting slow on the planner, then put some exclamation marks on the planner to make you work harder to get you back on track.
- this helps you in your work career learning how to meet deadlines.
- avoid double booking yourself and end up too much to chew in too little a time.
- spreading your workload into smaller bites and have a smoother climb up the skills ladder.
- gain confidence with every success that you can do it and have the means to do it.
Make 24 hours turn into 25 hours a day.
This section is when you find that you have not much time left to your exams and you start seeing warning bells going off. Emergency tricks to make more time that we have not considered. Yes, there are things we do every day that we have not included into studying time. Like time travelling to and from school can be used to run through your notes. Gains you an hour just right there. Sitting on the potty. Showering. Brushing teeth and have some sticky notes on the mirror. Having a meal and gobble down a chapter of Physics as well. Multi tasking is the in thing. Replace low level tasks with study. Like dressing up, or even going to cut your hair when its really near your exams.
So there you go. A good effective time planning gives everyone a fair chance of achieving excellence. Like a mentor of mine said last time, Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance.
Wong Kin Leong.
eduKate SG @ The Sail, Marina Bay