The Thistle - An E-Newsletter of Scotch College, Perth, Western Australia

Study and time management

As boys move into the senior years of schooling time management becomes increasingly important. Busy young men, wishing to take advantage of all that the College has to offer, can sometimes find themselves caught short with the time they have available. In the following article, I have attempted to provide a summary of effective strategies collected from various sources. I hope that parents and boys alike can adopt a few of these strategies to assist.

Time management is all about settings goals (short and long term) and at the beginning of a new academic year, it is a wonderful time to do so. Your first step is to clarify your goals, set them, assess them, develop ways to meet them and reward them. Prioritising your goals is your first step and learning to say no to events that detract from your goals is important. However, commitments are commitments, so consider the implications of taking on new commitments.

Your next step is to develop a study timetable, but make it flexible. Try it for a week - if it doesn't work for you, create a new one. Don't give up on a study timetable. Put in the things you enjoy doing and plan around them. When unexpected events arise, decide immediately when you can make up the study time missed. Sometimes there might need to be a sacrifice made.

Do your homework first, then study and commit yourself to specific times for studying specific subjects. Your study schedule should be like classes - know when you will study chemistry, mathematics, English etc. Routines save time and mental energy by helping you get down to work more quickly. Study your most difficult subjects, or those you enjoy least, first. This will make you more efficient. Start working on a new assignment on the day it is issued, then develop a plan for completing it. Divide it into chunks with deadlines and rewards. This will help your motivation.

Schedule study time in two hour blocks and be specific about what you want to achieve. Before studying each night, make a list of what you intend to do. Take a planned break every 45 minutes to an hour; study marathons are counter-productive, and change subjects when you sense your concentration decreasing. Avoid studying similar subjects back-to-back for this reason also.

Drink water while studying. Aim to drink 10 glasses of water each day. A well-hydrated brain is a smarter brain. Most students have a high energy time each day, with two periods of medium energy and one of low energy. Find these times for yourself and use them to your advantage - do difficult work during high energy times and easier work during low energy times. Schedule a time for a brief weekly review of the material covered in class. This cumulative review will pay off when you are preparing for exams.

Use a regular study area. Your body knows where you are and when you use the same place to study each day, it becomes trained. When you sit down, not lie down on your bed, in the particular place you will automatically be anticipating study. Finally, work on becoming more effective with the time you have by removing any distractions.

Good luck and remember to follow-up with your teachers any areas you cannot resolve yourself.

Mr Dean Shadgett
Head of Senior School