** This is an updated post**
Whether you’re a first-time student or have a few courses under your belt already, everyone can benefit from these study strategies.
Below you’ll find our simple tips on how you can effectively schedule your study around your life, so you can get the most out of your education.
Set up a schedule that works for you
Most people cringe at the idea of creating a schedule. But rather than being restrictive, schedules can be incredibly freeing. They allow you to reclaim your time instead of trying to squeeze things in whenever you have a spare moment.
A well-planned schedule can help to free up your time so that you have more freedom to do the things you enjoy.
You can download a schedule from a free website, use a whiteboard or a physical paper calendar—whatever works for you.
1. Starting your schedule
Not everyone can dedicate eight hours a day to study and to try to do so would be unrealistic. So the first thing you need to do is take a good look at how much time you can afford to set aside to study per week.
Ask yourself (and answer honestly): How do I spend my time each day? Write down a rough sketch of your daily routine and pay attention to how much time each task takes.
2. Building your schedule
Now, from your list of daily activities, think about what tasks you actually need to get done and what commitments you have. Block out time in your schedule for these important tasks. Add in any other activities that you can think of that need to be done as well.
When blocking out time, remember, you need to be realistic. It will almost always take you longer than you think to complete a task, so ensure you leave a 10-15 minute time buffer before and after each task so that you have room for unexpected events.
3. Adding study to your schedule
Creating a schedule to fit your study in doesn’t mean you need to entirely forego your social life. It’s all about working out just how much time you have per week to study, and making it work around your other commitments.
Have a look at your schedule. Where can you spare an hour for study? First thing in the morning? During your train ride to work? In your lunch hour? Or perhaps after the kids have gone to bed?
While a daily study habit isn’t a bad thing to have, the reality of life is that some days you won’t have time to fit study in. That’s ok—so long as you’re committing to several hours a week, it’s alright if there are some days where you just can’t fit study in.
The most important thing you need to be focusing on is the quality of the study time, not the quantity. If you’re frantically trying to fit a half hour of study in before your tennis game starts at 7pm, are you really going to be absorbing any information? Instead, it’s better to commit to a solid three hours on a night where you don’t have another engagement.
4. Make fun a daily habit
Lastly, make sure you schedule in rest periods and time for fun. If you only schedule in work, study and must-do tasks, you’re going to start feeling pretty burned out. And this will increase the chance of you discarding your study schedule altogether.
After all, the purpose of a schedule is to make sure you get things done and to free up time so you can enjoy your life!
What to do when you study
The following study tips are designed to help you get the most out of your course.
1. Discover your learning style
People learn in lots of different ways; some learn by listening, some learn visually and others learn by doing.
If you learn by listening, try reading your notes out loud. Discuss the things that you’re learning with friends and family. You could also record yourself reading your notes and listen back to them when driving, commuting, or when doing tasks like cooking and cleaning. This will help to cement the ideas in your mind. You could also work through your problems out loud and talk yourself through your assignments and readings.
If you learn visually, try using different coloured pens to make notes, draw pictures and diagrams to illustrate key points, and highlight key learnings to help you remember information.
If you learn by doing, try taking notes while you read your lessons and watch your webinars. Write down key words, draw diagrams or make charts as this will help you to remember the information. You could also speak your notes into a recorder then go for a walk and listen back to them. Another idea is to walk back and forth with your device open to your study material and read the information on the screen out loud. ‘Doing’ learners may also find it useful to copy key points onto a large writing surface, like a whiteboard or a large piece of paper. Flashcards can also help ‘doing’ learners.
2. Have a few study tricks up your sleeve
No matter how you learn, having a few different approaches to your study will help you to cement your learning in your mind. Try going over the same material in a few different ways. This will use several different parts of your brain for the same material, building your memory and helping you to retain the information.
Different study approaches you can take:
- Read your lesson out loud, make notes, then review your notes on the key learning concept.
- Write a one sentence summary of your lesson.
- Write a set of five questions to test your knowledge of the lesson.
Think about using these techniques to help you study, too.
Break down study into small chunks – When you have an assignment or test, break down the work into smaller, more manageable chunks. You don’t have to try and do it all at once.
Move every hour – If you have scheduled your daily study session to run for more than one hour, get up every 50 minutes, stretch your legs and have a ten minute break to refresh and recharge.
Time your study session – At the beginning of your session, set an alarm to ring when you want to finish. Timing your study will remind you that there is a time limit, and you will find that you knuckle down to work quicker and with more determination. The Pomodoro technique utilises timed sessions to help keep you motivated and focused.
3. Reward yourself
When you make study milestones and meet your learning goals, reward yourself. Buy yourself something you’ve been eyeing off, take yourself to the movies or have a tasty meal. When you reward yourself for your hard work, you not only re-motivate yourself, but you train yourself to learn that work has rewards, making study a good thing, rather than a task that must be endured.
Get qualified and kick start your future
Setting up your own study schedule, utilising different techniques and rewarding yourself for reaching your goals will help you get the most out of your course.
Open Colleges offers a wide range of online course across a number of different specialties. From accounting to nursing, our courses are designed to equip you with job-ready, in-demand skills that will help launch or excel your career.
What are you waiting for? Discover the right course to help unlock your potential and enrol with OC today.