How many times have you found yourself taking on more activities than you can handle? Do you often feel nervous when taking a mental break or hanging out with friends thanks to a nagging feeling of a thousand deadlines? Have you ever pulled three all-nighters straight just to catch up to speed with your classes and extra-curriculars? Well, you’re not alone. But luckily, there’s a cure! The ingredients are discipline, efficiency, and consistency.
Step 1: Get a planner
Writing down your day-to-day, hour-to-hour activities in a planner will help you stay on task. Think of it as an advanced To-Do list. If you have a phone with a Calendar function, that works well too. To begin, write something for every time slot, so your whole day is planned out. A typical day might look something like this:
10:00 – Study spanish
11:00 – Study in Powell
1:00 – Lunch & Dhuhr prayer
2:00 – English
3:00 – Art History
4:00 - Asr & down time.
5:30 – Maghrib prayer & Powell
7:30 – Dinner & then back to Powell
10:00 – Down time/Gym/Isha prayer
Midnight – Sleep
Not too bad, right? Of course, it’s a little trickier on heavier days with more classes and extracurriculars. But if you can manage to consistently schedule a few hours of studying every day, and still try to make some down time to prevent burnout, you’ll find yourself being a lot more productive.
Step 2: Multi-Task
Think about all the time you spend that goes to waste. Walking to class can take anywhere from five to twenty-five minutes. If you have phone calls to make, unplug your iPod and start dialing! At the gym, you can spend half an hour on the elliptical, and another 20 minutes walking back home. If it doesn’t make you sick to read while moving, take note cards or books you need to read for class while on the cardio machines. Or you can go over information from your classes in your head, and ask yourself questions to quiz your understanding. When you’re pressed for time during lunchtime, don’t skip your meal – keep a lunch or snack packed and eat while studying or on the go. By turning your excess time into work time, you increase your efficiency and lessen your workload for later.
Step 3: Study smart
When you really need to focus, it helps to remove yourself from a place where you are distracted when you’re studying. If you are someone who tends to socialize when studying with friends, then try studying alone, or find a good study buddy. When you get to a point when you are getting twice as much done in half the time, then you know you’re doing the right thing! This takes a little more discipline, but once you learn to study better in shorter periods of time, and frequently, then hopefully the all-nighters will no longer be necessary.
If you would like to share your own tips, feel free to add them in the comment box below!