Developing and following your own personalised learning timetable can be helpful to your studies and your motivation for a number of reasons:
- A timetable adds focus, pattern and structure to your study.
- Timetabling will enable you to review each section of your studies, establishing the key tasks involved and identifying the time slots when you will engage with them.
- Creating a learning timetable will help you to overcome procrastination and unnecessary dithering. You will find it useful to develop some sort of personalised system for organising your study time. This will allow you to decide what needs to be done and when. Without such a structure a lot of time can be wasted procrastinating or being distracted by elements of the study process. You might find yourself starting one thing and then another and wondering whether they are getting anywhere.
The aim of planning a study timetable is to identify or create regular time slots for study, ideally when you will be at your most alert, free from distractions and able to concentrate. Think about planning your study as an integral part of your life. This train of thought can go a long way to help you to maintain a positive attitude and a healthy work/life balance.
- It is important, when planning, to realise that study does not take place in a vacuum but needs to be organised around your other fixed commitments, like work and/or family. This may involve looking at regular activities that could be moved, done less frequently, delegated or deferred whilst you study.
- Depending on your circumstances it may help to involve other people, colleagues, peers, family and friends in the planning process to, where possible, gain their understanding, cooperation and support. When you create a study timetable that you can share with others it will help them to feel included and involved. It will also act as a reminder to them that there will be times when you should not be disturbed.
- It is important to schedule 'free-time' into your timetable. Such time can be used for relaxation, and social activities, things that help you achieve a balance. Having 'free-time' slots also means that there will be an element of flexibility built into your timetable. If a task needs extra time or there are some unexpected developments you have a built in a way of coping.
- You also need to think about how much time you need to devote to study as you plan and draw up a timetable. If you are a full-time student you'll obviously need more study time available than a part-time or casual student.
Once you have considered all of the points above and thought about your own circumstances, start to prepare a timetable.
It is usually easiest to think in terms of weeks when you design your timetable, although this is a purely personal exercise so use whatever suits your circumstances best. Split up each day, in a logical way to accommodate your commitments - if you are a student then mark when you will be attending lectures or seminars, when you will have chance to speak to tutors and when you'll have time to work on your assignments. If you work then mark out the blocks of time when you will be at work. If you are a parent, especially of younger children, then note the times when you need to be doing the school run, spending quality time etc. Block off known commitments first and see what time you have left for study.
Keep your timetable template and update your timetable each week. If you have a fairly regular routine the chances are that the timetable will not have to change much over subsequent weeks.
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