Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Are you looking for ways to use time wisely and be more productive?

Exams are rapidly approaching.  How are you doing with all of your daily tasks, papers, and exam studying?  If you are looking for ways to use your time more wisely and be more productive in that time, here are some suggestions: 

Choose your study locations carefully.  If studying at the law school stresses you out and you get too distracted at home, here are some possible alternatives to consider: Other academic classroom buildings on campus.  The main university library.  The Student Union Building.  Local coffee shops or fast food restaurants.  The business center/function rooms at your apartment complex.  A little-used office or conference room at the law firm where you work part-time. 

Complete the hardest or least liked task on your daily “to do” list at the first chance you have in the morning.  You will get it out of the way and not have it hanging over you all day. 

Break every project or study topic into smaller tasks.  You can often get a small task done in 15 – 45 minutes instead of looking for multiple hours to finish a larger task or study topic. 

Take small breaks roughly every 90 minutes.  Get up and walk around for 10 or 15 minutes rather than just stay seated.  You will feel more refreshed and be able to focus better after your break. 

If you tend to turn small breaks into longer than you wanted to take, use the alarm function on your smartphone to bring you back on time. 

Ask a classmate or family member to be your “study conscience” for the remainder of the semester.  Give that person permission to point out when you are procrastinating. 

Every 3 to 4 hours of studying, take a longer break of at least 30 – 60 minutes so that you can relax before the next intense study session. 

Some people need to take a 2-hour break that combines exercise and a meal at the end of the class day before they can re-focus for the evening.  By combining exercise with a nutritious meal, you keep two healthy options in your routine. 

Pull together the questions you have about course material to this point and get them answered soon by your professors.  You will be more likely to learn the material correctly.  You also will avoid the last-minute rush during the end of classes and exams.  Some professors will only be available by e-mail once classes are over. 

Consider condensing sections of your outlines that you have already learned well to half of the current length.  Have the condensed version become your master document for exam study for those sections.  As you learn additional sections in your longer outline, condense them also.  (Begin your condensed outline as a new file and keep the longer version as a separate file in case you need to refer back to it.)

Complete as many practice questions as possible each week.  Set aside blocks of time specifically designated to complete questions for each course.  Otherwise you are likely to put off doing them. 

Be on the lookout for when you are wasting time: between classes, checking e-mail and texts constantly, chatting with friends in the lounge, napping. 

Have a series of study tasks that you can do in small amounts of time: using your flashcards, completing a couple of multiple-choice questions, writing out your “to do” list for the next day, going to ask a professor a question, editing a few paper citations. 

Balance study group time with individual study.  You cannot depend on your group members in the exam.  Make sure you know the material and are not lulled into a false sense of security just because the group knows it. 

Avoid people who stress you out, tempt you to avoid work, or make you feel inferior.  Surround yourself instead with people who remain calm, are focused on their studies, and encourage you. 

Get 7-8 hours of sleep every night.  Your brain cells need the rest so that you can be more alert and productive.  You will get more done in less time if you are well-rested. 

Avoid junk food, caffeine, and excessive sugar.  Healthy, nutritious meals three times a day will give your brain cells the nutrients they need to perform well.

By being more intentional in your use of time, you can boost your productivity a great deal.  Everyone needs to find better ways to use the time available during this crunch time period.  (Amy Jarmon)

 

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