Let’s do the maths. If you only did 20 minutes extra study every day it would total 2.5 hours every week. That’s 5 hours every two weeks and 10 hours every month. Stop and reflect on the difference this could make to your progress.
If you know at the end of the school year you will have exams and you work on the 20 minute kick start every day for 8 months- you could have accumulated around 80 hours of study by the time the exams start.
Just imagine what you could accomplish with 80 hours extra study under your belt.
Chunks of time very quickly accumulate if you are consistent and try to add to your ‘timebank’ every day and even if your exams are looming in the very near future there is still time to make a difference.
The trick is to stop thinking about studying and actually study the thinking.
You may be thinking that it sounds great for other people but that you simply don’t have the time. I am here to tell you that you do. You have masses of time, you just need to know how to use it wisely.
Here are some ways you can make time work for you and build more revision time into your day:
1. Change your alarm
If you set your alarm 30 minutes earlier than you usually start your day, you have time to get yourself settled and then complete a twenty minute study burst even before you get dressed in the morning! This is the ideal time to revise key concepts or watch short videos that will consolidate your learning.
2. Talk to your phone
Record yourself reading out class notes. I usually do this in a range of terrible regional accents to make myself smile. The simple act of reading the notes aloud helps the information become more embedded in your memory- plus you can then listen to yourself whenever you have a few spare minutes. It’s a great idea to send yourself to sleep listening to your notes too. Why not let your brain do the work while you are dreaming! By the way this is also a useful cure for insomnia.
2. Study while you soak
Personally I wouldn’t take my textbooks with me into the bath because I’m super clumsy and likely to drop them into the bubbles but I have often taken revision notes and cue cards with me. Sometimes when I have no study materials physically with me I even test myself while luxuriating in the bath or washing my hair in the shower. I try to remember everything I know about a particular topic or imagine myself giving a presentation about key concepts and think about how I would explain them as clearly as possible to my classmates.
3. Get mobile
Take study notes or a textbook with you wherever you go. That way you can study when travelling by bus or train, you can find a comfy spot in a coffee shop and read through your notes whilst savouring something yummy or revisit some key ideas or concepts while waiting to meet a friend.
You can use time standing in a queue to access notes on your phone if you use a cloud based storage system to take your notes in the first place or have pictures on your phone of handwritten notes and mind maps that you can easily review. Of course you could also listen to yourself reading out your notes as highlighted at step 2!
4. Make a plan….then stick to it!
Lots of students I have worked with over the years have been very good planners. They have been able to show me colour coded schedules that comprehensively mapped out their study schedule. The problem has been, however, that they have struggled to actually follow the plan and there are several reasons for this. Procrastination is one and of course, the very act of putting together a study plan could be used to procrastinate- keeping busy at the expense of actually doing the work. Do not worry about the aesthetics of your plan – focus on the effectiveness of your plan.
Unrealistic schedules Have proven to be another challenging barrier to overcome. Nobody can study effectively for 15 hours a day. An effective plan is one that is based on realistic expectations.
Taking regular breaks is important and should include opportunities for fresh air and exercise. Taking a decent break every hour or two will benefit almost all students so make sure your study schedule includes regular breaks and then stick to the schedule to ensure you are taking the breaks and also doing the work.
5. Goodnight recap
Take 20 minutes before you go to bed to revisit key ideas. Make it part of your bedtime routine.Wash face, brush teeth, read notes.
Getting started can often be the biggest hurdle we face but remember that any revision is better than no revision and structured revision is better than haphazard revision. Set a plan, use your time effectively and work to build little extra study bursts into your day!