How Students Can Manage Their Schedules and Minimize Distractions
Students want to succeed in school, but many lack the appropriate skills to do so. When it comes to absorbing material and making the grade, what your school success really comes down to is organization and focus.
Is your schedule set up to include study periods, assignments, personal obligations and test preparation? Can you make sure you’re eliminating distractions and staying focused in a constantly connected world? Try these techniques to manage your schedule, minimize distractions and make the most of your time.
You might need to know what time it is to ensure you make it to your next class or club, but when you’re studying, put away digital distractions like phones and use your clock radio or your watch to measure the minutes. This will keep you on schedule without exposing you to other stimuli besides your studies.
Also, set timers for specific tasks and stick to them as often as possible. For example, when you’re studying, give yourself an hour to review a subject, then allot 30 minutes to quiz yourself on the information without notes. Using specific times to segment your studying will help keep your brain more focused on the task at hand.
Many students procrastinate on studying and then cram the night before exams. However, this doesn’t allow them to fully absorb the material, and they forget what they learned when the evaluation is over. Additionally, they feel exhausted on test day from pulling an all-nighter.
Instead of thinking only about your due dates for tests and assignments, make it a point to create an entire study schedule. At the beginning of your semester, carefully read over each of your syllabi and schedule out your semester in your planner, marking time for study sessions, reminders and work periods well before due dates. With your time organized in advance, you’ll feel much more clear-minded and able to focus on your work.
To-do lists help students stay on-task and provide instant gratification each time they check an item off. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, use your pre-planned semester schedule to create a daily to-do list of the most important tasks you need to complete each day. This will break down the large task of looming work into smaller, more digestible assignments that will feel more manageable.
Yes, you can feel lazy — and still accomplish a lot. There’s a difference between emotions and actions, and even though you might want to procrastinate, that doesn’t mean you have to. Make the choice to push yourself past that normal feeling of apathy.
Understand that procrastination often stems from fear — this allows you to work past the roadblock. When you plan out your study schedule, stay on top of tasks and devote yourself to learning your class material, there’s nothing to be afraid of — you’ve got this.
Read about the value of deep work and try to shape your habits around creating more focus. For example, find a quiet place you know you won’t be disturbed or distracted while you study or do schoolwork. This could be your dorm room, a corner of the library or a window seat in your favorite coffee shop. Start each study session with a routine like turning off your phone, putting on some relaxing music, and sitting down with only the materials you need. Deliberately forming habits to increase your focus will make such a difference.
Success isn’t an inherent trait — it’s something you have to work to achieve, just like a good grade. By actively devoting time to scheduling, self-discipline and productive habits, you’ll start to see that you’re confident and capable in college.
Alyssa Abel is an experiential education writer with a love for learning. Read more of her work for students and educators on her blog, Syllabusy.