There is never enough time in a busy person’s day.
You don’t have to struggle to find time to study. Time may be a limited resource but with a few small changes to your routine, studying can be easy. Your schedule doesn’t have to be your limiting factor when it comes to academic success.
I know how it feels to have your schedule booked to the brim. I’m more booked than a library. (Yes… I agree… That is a bad joke but it’s my article so suck it up. :P) I’ve had double course load semesters while working 30 hours a week at my job while attempting to start a business. These days my workload is a little lighter but I learned my secrets to success in the fires of time management hell.
You can learn what you need to for class. You have the time.
In this article, I’m going to tell you where to find it.
In no time you’ll feel like you have all the time in the world. Make sure you pay attention to step 2. That’s a big one:
1. Get Honest
Some students (obviously not you) are a little bit inaccurate with their time limitations.
If you’re surfing the web randomly for an hour a night then you probably have time to study. Time isn’t the limiting factor in this case. Sure… an hour after slacking you might not have time to study but if you started studying an hour before you’d be done studying and have 45 minutes to spare (assuming you used the 15MSS.)
I get it.
When you’re talking to your teachers or parents about how much you study, you can tell them how your whole schedule is booked. I understand why you’d want to tell everyone else in the world how you don’t have enough time. There is only one person you absolutely positively need to be honest with: yourself.
You need to know if you really lack time to study.
If you can’t admit you’re not using your time wisely then no matter how much time you free up, you’ll never have enough.
If you gain one hour then you’ll end up wasting most of it being unproductive.
It takes more than a bucket full of water to fill another bucket with a hole in it (and it won’t even stay filled.) Getting honest is the only way you can patch your hole.
2. Reduce Your Need
Don’t study more when you can study better.
There is only so much studying more that you can do. There is unlimited studying better.
Improve your study strategies. This means you’ll need to study less. That will make it easier to find the time to study.
What are the kinds of things you can do to reduce your study time:
- Study in short sessions
- Distribute studying
- Set good study priorities
- Improve your grades through stuff other than studying
- You Don’t Have To Read Everything – An important article by Kat at Study-Hack.com
- Don’t go for perfection
- Learn the 15MSS
There is only so much time that you can study. Everyone has their limitations. 80% of students study enough time to get near perfect perfect grades. The only reason they struggle is because they lack effective study strategies.
Read this blog. Sign up for the email list. Read study books. Study studying.
3. Make It A Priority
You pick everything you do in life based on your priorities (whether you think about it or not.)
If you play videogames instead of studying then you value videogames more than studying (in that moment.)
Logically, you may know that you need to study but somewhere deep inside yourself you’re making a decision. Your brain is saying the short term pleasure is more important than your long term success.
Your priorities decide the life you’re going to live.
Have you ever taken the time to actually write them down?
Make a list of everything that’s important to you. It might look like this:
Is your list long? That’s probably why you’re struggling to find time. You only have so much time in the day.
Is your list short? Are you being honest? If you spent 30+ minutes a day doing something then it should probably be on the list.
Now think about how long you spend on each of your priorities. Use a weekly time estimate per priority. Next to your job you might put 20 hours a week. Next to school you might put 45 hours a week. Repeat that for every activity.
Now try writing #1 next to your top priority (or priorities.) Don’t write what you think they are. Write what you think they should be. Then write #2 next to your second priority. Repeat that through your whole list.
You might notice something funny. I notice it almost everytime I do this exercise.
You almost never spend your time in the same way as your priorities.
School may be your #3 priority but it might be what you spend the most time working on. If it’s your #3 priority then shouldn’t you spend the third greatest amount of time on it? (Naturally, it’s not that simple but don’t let the complexity make you assume it’s irrelevant.)
If the thing you value the most the same thing as you spend the most time on? If not then something is wrong.
What about your study time? Does your study time make sense based on which number priority? If school is your #1 priority then you should be spending more of your time on school than anything else.
If school is your #5 priority then have reasonable expectations. You don’t have to suck but focus on efficiency and keep the time down a bit.
4. Find Your NET
What if you could use every free minute you had through the day?
You know that time when you’re waiting in line and staring off into space? How about that time before class when you’re sitting at your desk? Do you ever have a long commute? Imagine if you could use that.
The majority of your day is filled with little time wasters. You get nothing done because of the system around you. Most people waste hours a day waiting or doing other things that don’t require thought.
Sure… You can’t magically change the world around you. It may be nice if you could step out of your bedroom door and instantly be in the classroom as the teachers starts the lecture. That would maximize the efficiency of your day but you know it’s never going to happen.
These “No Extra Time” (NET) activities don’t have to be unproductive.
The system may encourage you to waste time but you can create a system where you never have to waste time.
How can you use your NET time to get stuff done?
Why Not Read?
I know your teacher wants you to read the book for class but if you have a long commute, why not just listen to the audiobook?
You’ll notice 90% of the literature in school are classics that have easily accessible audiobooks. That means with a subscription to an ebook service you can usually find what you need. You’ll find many of them free if you dig deep enough.
You won’t find audiobooks of your textbooks but there are other tricks you can use to study other courses.
Listen to an audiobook about one of the subjects you’re studying. You might notice audiobooks can make a subject way more interesting. They’re books written to entertain and inform. (Textbooks are just written to be as accurate as possible. They aren’t meant to entertain you.)
Perhaps I’m just too much of a nerd for the average person…
I used to carry a set of flashcards in my pocket everywhere I went. That meant I could pull them out and study anytime I had two minutes to spare. I would pull them out in line at the store. I would pull them out before class. I would pull them out when I was waiting for friends. They were my go-to fiddle activity (instead of my phone.)
For those less inclined to obvious professional nerd-dom, try using Anki on your phone to study throughout the day.
If You Can’t Study In NET Time Then Do Something Else
You don’t need to study in NET time to make it useful. Doing anything during NET time will free you up to study more later.
For example: Eat while you’re waiting for class to start. After class you won’t have to eat before you go and study.
Use your NET time to do the stuff you need to do. That will free you up for more productivity later. (It will also keep you thinking about how you can be most efficient.)
5. Stop Making Excuses
Well… maybe you should stop making excuses tomorrow… I mean you did just read this super long article. You’re probably totally…
You will always have an excuse. To this day I:
- Don’t have enough time
- Am tired
- Feel mildly uncomfortable
- Need some time to relax
That’s just the start of my list of excuses. It goes on and on and on.
Let me guess…
You have a pretty long list too.
Throw out the list.
It doesn’t matter.
You always have good reasons you shouldn’t study. It doesn’t matter who you are or what is happening. You have good excuses. But those excuses don’t matter.
Finding time to study isn’t about not having excuses.
It’s about ignoring them.
You’ve set your priorities. You know what you want to do.
You can get grades that will blow your friends minds. You can do things that will look miraculous. You don’t even need to make a massive change to make a massive impact.
Take the first step and start today. Start now.