3 top ways to manage your time (and sort your studies)

Posted May 12, 2021

Even with national exams cancelled, in-school exams have meant that somehow May has still managed to become revision season. As final deadlines get closer and the pressure starts to build, it can get harder to stay organised and know the right thing to study at the right moment. We’ve got two words for you: time management.

With the right methods, you can work out how to order your revision, what the most important topics are for you this week, and how to structure your days so you get through all the work you need to, and face exams knowing you can do your best. Here we’ve got three tried and tested techniques to help you prioritise different tasks, manage procrastination and tackle the topics you’d rather avoid at all costs.

1. The Eisenhower Matrix (to decide what to do when)

This is a way to work out which of your tasks are urgent, versus which are important, urgent and important, not urgent but important etc. You work out what to do when by creating 4 boxes on a sheet of paper, like this:

mytutor-the-eisenhower-matrix

Try to complete almost everything while it’s important but not (yet) urgent

Whatever you’ve got that’s urgent and important you do first – but the aim is to do most things when they’re important, but haven’t become urgent yet. Anything that’s not urgent and not important, you can think about leaving altogether.

When the Eisenhower Matrix is used in businesses, it’s recommended that tasks that are urgent but not important are “delegated” i.e. you get someone else to do it! Since you can’t get anyone to do your homework for you (sorry!), you probably won’t need to use this box much for school revision, but it might be helpful to question whether something that falls into that box for you does actually need to be done (and no, that doesn’t mean you should put house chores or your least favourite subject in there).

Using this matrix can be a really helpful way to get you thinking about how to prioritise different pieces of work, and take out some of the panic you might feel when you’ve got 20 things to study and don’t know where to start.

2. The Pomodoro Technique (to beat procrastination)

This one sounds sort of fancy, but in fact “pomodoro” is just italian for tomato, and it’s a common shape for a kitchen timer. You don’t need a tomato-shaped timer to try this technique (although a timer that’s not your phone is a good idea to help you shut off distractions). One of our favourite learning experts, Barbara Oakley, recommends this process as a way to bust procrastination and completely focus on a given task. Here’s a handy infographic that shows you the process!

infographic-the-pomodoro-technique

You can plan our 2-4 of these over the course of a study day- or one in an afternoon

3. Eat your frog (to do what you’re dreading)

eat-your-frog

This time management technique is vegan-friendly

Eat your what now? No, we haven’t gone crazy, and we don’t encourage cruelty to frogs. The eat your frog method is a way to bust procrastination, inspired by American writer Mark Twain’s quote,“Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.”

It sounds a bit silly, but by doing the task you’re dreading most first thing in the morning, it means you don’t have to think about it again that day. Do you know that feeling when there’s something you really don’t want to do – like homework for a subject you really struggle with, you can end up procrastinating all day and avoiding it? If that sounds familiar, this method can be a really great way to free yourself up by doing the dreaded task (aka your frog) first thing – either in the morning if you’ve got a day’s revising ahead of you, or first thing when you get home from school if it’s homework. Then it’s done and dusted, and you can get on with your day!

Try giving these method a go and seeing which works best for you. With a couple of tricks like these in your study toolbox, and a pinch of determination, you can power through your studies all the way to the Summer holidays.

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