So, you've just left secondary school and about to enter the wide world of TAFE or university — now what?
When you start out at TAFE or uni for the first time, fitting in enough study time - especially if you also have a part time job - can feel overwhelming.
How do you even start?
How do other students manage it?
Chill. It's normal to feel this way. The good news is that time management is a skill that can be learned.
Here are some simple tips to free up your time, lower your stress levels, and give you time to have some much-needed fun.
1. Write a list
Write down absolutely everything you have to do in a week. Include everything you can think of: worksheets, lectures, study time, exercise, home obligations and work.
2. Write a schedule and study plan
Visualise your tasks. A traditional paper calendar is ideal for some, but there's also a huge variety of apps and smartphone calendars available to use. Whatever works for you, set it up so you can see things at a glance.
Write in all the non-negotiable tasks like work shifts and lectures first. Think about how your brain and body operates and plan the most difficult mental tasks at a time where you're at your freshest and most alert.
Then make time for socialising, exercising and sleeping. Most people require a minimum of seven to eight hours of sleep every night to function and focus.
3. Be realistic
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Some people stick to a rigid timetable and study plan more than others, but you need to be realistic. There's no point in writing up a strict timetable when, in reality, you will get overwhelmed and freak out after two days.
A general guide is to allow eight to 10 hours a day for studying, working, socialising, running errands and doing anything else that needs to be done.
Allow for error too. Sometimes things go wrong or take longer than expected.
4. Avoid time-wasting
Procrastination and distraction can be a problem for all of us — learning how to avoid time wasting is a skill.
Think about your worst time-wasting experiences and see what the culprits were. Were you too tired to concentrate? Too bored? Was the room too distracting?
Then think about your most productive study times. Are there certain times of the day that you find it easier to concentrate? What's the best environment for you to study in?
With this in mind, you can work out the best study environment for you.
5. Schedule in time for exercise and hobbies
Skipping exercise and pursuing your hobbies doesn't mean more time to study. In fact, the more you do, the more alert you'll be.
Exercise and hobbies help you clear your head in between study sessions. It also helps to lift your mood and improve concentration. Even regular five to 10-minute breaks will do wonders. So make time to go for a walk, draw a picture, ride your bike, read a book - give your brain a break before getting back into study.
6. Make dedicated study time
Once you've decided on your most productive time of day to study, schedule in a dedicated study time with no interruptions — no emails, texts, social media or calls. Make a strictly study-free zone, just for you.
If there are distractions at home, take your work outside. Make a plan to read over your notes at the library, your favourite cafe or while getting some sun at the park. A change of scenery can give you some much-needed motivation and energy.
Every subject can be made interesting and enjoyable if you take the right approach, and maintaining this positive attitude will do wonders for your results.
TAFE can take you to your career and education goals. See:
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