Find Time To Study

Detail of a desk after studying.

When I was working full time and studying for my Open University degree course, I needed to find the time to study in between working during the day.

Whether you're working full or part time and you studying for either work related or personal reasons - here are a few ideas to help you find time to study.

Commit to your study time - you have a goal, this is a short-term commitment which will result in achieving the qualifications you need to take you further.  Understand your motivation and reasons for doing this - to improve your career, to get a job, to change jobs ...
  • Set out a timetable when you can slot periods of study into your normal day.
  • 30 minutes at the beginning of the day
  • 30 minutes in a lunch break
  • 1-2 hours in the evening
  • 1/2 a day or a few hours at the weekends
The evening is usually when I was able to do most of my study.  After all - most of us collapse in front of the TV in the evening and although you may have had a busy day at work you can manage a couple of hours.

You may also choose to take a half day every week or even a full day once or twice a month when you can dedicate your time to studying.

Plan your study time across the weeks and months before any exam - avoid cramming it in to the last minute just because you've been too busy.  Little and often.

Study in short bursts of activity along the following lines.
  • Plan what you're going to study
  • Preview the work for this session
  • Work/Study for 20-30 minutes
  • Take a 5 minute stretch/refresh break 
  • Repeat the work/break sequence for 1-2 hours
  • Review what you've been studying in the last hour
Get into the right mindset for studying.  You won't be able to concentrate if your mind is on other things.  Get these out of the way first or worry about them later, so you can focus on your studying.

Use mind-maps to take notes during your study.  This way you have a colourful image of the study material - on one or two sheets for each module that are easier to read and review than pages of notes.

Use key cards - write down the key points on postcards.  You can use these to test yourself in those quiet moments during the day, on your daily commute, waiting for a meeting.

Review what you've learnt regularly.  The more you review, the more you retain as it moves into long term memory.  At the end of each day review all you've worked on during the day.  At the end of the week review all you've worked on during the week.

Find somewhere that's conducive to study - your office, the kitchen table, a cafe, library - wherever gives you undisturbed time with minimal distractions.

Avoid being a stressed out study bunny.  Make time for rest and relaxation - a social life, exercise and fun also needs to part of the plan!

Detail of a desk after studying. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
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