Time management can be incredibly tricky. Especially if you’re the kind of person who struggles to juggle various responsibilities, or if you’re someone who often feels overwhelmed with competing life demands.
Yet there are some simple actions you can take to make your time management much easier.
In one of our previous blogs, we recommended 8 Life Hacks to Improve Your Concentration. Today, however, we are going to dive into specific time management techniques to not only benefit your studies but also help your day-to-day life too.
Because when you manage your time, this means you’ll be able to complete your studies much more effectively, have the chance to feel less stressed or anxious, and also have more time to spend as you wish. Whether that’s socialising with friends, bonding with the family, or pursuing a passion/hobby, you’ll be able to relax and enjoy the experiences without any unnecessary worries lingering at the back of your mind.
So let’s explore what strategies and techniques can help your time management.
Do you often drift from task to task? Or try to complete multiple activities simultaneously? Then creating a plan of action can be a real turning point for you, helping you to achieve both clarity and focus, understanding how every action fits into the bigger picture.
Yet when we say ‘make a plan of action’, we don’t necessarily mean you have to plan every single minute of every single day.
Rather, create a plan which outlines what you want to achieve:
- This week
- This month
- In the next 3 months
- This year
This can be in relation to your studies but it can also take into account your broader life ambitions too.
Here at Learning Online, we understand that our online courses are not the beginning, middle and end of your journey. Instead, our courses are an entry point into various industries, helping you to get your foot in the door and step closer to achieving your dream career.
So with your plan of action, this can help to identify exactly how your studies will contribute to realising your short, medium and long-term goals.
Here’s an example of what your plan of action may look like:
- Today: I want to complete 40 minutes of study
- This week: I want to complete the next unit of my course and any necessary assessments related to those units
- This month: I want to complete the first module of my course and continue to practice/perfect any new skills I’ve acquired
- In the next 3 months: I want to complete the second unit of my course/finish my course and achieve my certificate of completion
- This year: I want to start up my own home business/I want to gain an entry-level role in my chosen industry/I want to increase my skills and apply for a raise from my employer
By understanding what your broader goals are, you will be able to see exactly what you need to complete and by what date in order to achieve those ambitions.
This strategy may initially appear similar to step #1, yet this step actually looks at how you’re going to allocate your time in a much more detailed way.
For this step, we’d recommend that you grab a calendar – whether paper or digital – and make a note of all your existing commitments.
Think… work responsibilities, personal commitments, any upcoming social events… basically, anything that will require your time, energy or focus.
Once you’ve noted your existing commitments, now consider what times are best to slot in your studies.
(Note: remember to make your plan realistic. There’s no point planning to cram in a 60-minute study session if you know you’ll have to cut it short to pick up your child from school halfway through.)
The key here is to be realistic and pragmatic.
In the poem ‘To a Mouse’ by Robert Burns, there is the ever-famous line:
The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men / Gang aft agley
Which is just another way of saying that as much as we plan and plan and plan, there are always going to be unforeseen factors which knock those plans off-track.
So when ‘booking’ in your study sessions, recognise that there has to be a degree of flexibility. It’ll only stress you out further if these plans are derailed, especially when you’ve anticipated following your diary to the letter.
Simply identify times of the day or times of the week you’re confident you can dedicate to your studies, but be aware that you may always need a plan B or plan C in place too.
3) Identify what’s a priority
This is one of our favourite time management skills for studying, specifically because – as we mentioned in step two – there are often going to be times when you’re dealing with multiple demands.
In those moments, it can definitely feel conflicting, not knowing what to prioritise or spending your time on one responsibility whilst neglecting another.
This grid is adapted by from Stephen Covey (1988) The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. We find it helps us achieve real clarity as to what our order of priority truly is and how we can best allocate our most precious resource: our time.
For instance, perhaps there’s something that is important but not urgent. Alright then, that can go further down on our list of priorities.
Or maybe something is urgent but not important. Okay, then we might focus on the important and urgent stuff, but then tackle this afterwards.
Only you can really decide whether something is urgent/non-urgent, and it’ll help if you’ve completed step one too (as then you can also see whether certain tasks contribute to your short and long-term goals.)
4) Understand what works for you
With the previous steps, we’ve really focused on strategies to help strengthen your sense of clarity and direction.
However, for this step, it’s much more about inward reflection. Specifically, knowing what study structure works for you and managing your time with this awareness in mind.
For example, some of our students prefer dipping into their course during the evenings when things have slowed down, the kids are in bed, or other life responsibilities have been dealt with for the day.
Other students prefer to tackle a unit earlier in the morning, as this is when their concentration levels are strongest and they are able to work more effectively and efficiently.
Following from this, it’s not only about the time of day that you prefer studying. It’s also about how you best handle longer projects too.
- Do you work best when dipping in and out of your studies, tackling them in bitesize chunks that can be more easily fit around your other responsibilities?
- Do you prefer to sit down and spend a dedicated amount of time on your studies, working through multiple units in a single hit?
The best thing about studying online is that your studies are self-paced, meaning you complete your course whenever and wherever you wish. Nobody will be hovering over your shoulder, badgering you to hurry up or tell you that you’re studying wrong. You can complete your units as swiftly or as slowly as you wish.
Again, in our blog 8 Lifehacks to Improve Your Concentration we outline several recommendations for optimising your study space and also identifying personal distractions.
Through understanding what works for you (and also the flip side of this, what doesn’t work for you), you’ll be much better positioned to structure your studies in a way that gets the best use of your time too.
So those are 4 top time management techniques to support your studies, and hopefully to help you in your daily life too.
Remember, if you’re ever feeling stressed or finding it difficult to manage your studies, get in touch with our career consultants. We’re always here to offer our full support and to help you not only complete your studies successfully but to also have fun learning too.