Now, that we’ve discussed the importance of a study timetable, how exactly do we make an effective timetable?
Personally, and I recommend this as well, I have a weekly timetable for all my tasks that I will complete during the week, and a monthly calendar to help me stay organised and on top of my time. In later study tips, we will explore the use of the monthly calendar more; but essentially this is where you document due dates for assessments, exams dates and deadlines for tasks, whilst the weekly timetable is utilised to plan out activities and study undertaken every day during the week.
Your weekly timetable can be handwritten or typed up. I use Google Calendar; that way I can combine the monthly calendar and weekly timetable, making it easier to see when I need to allocate time towards an exam or assessment task due to its looming date or deadline respectively.
Steps to Make the Perfect Timetable (Well, you will still need to follow the timetable as well!)
As we go through the steps, I will show an example of how I would do this using Google Calendar.
- To start making your timetable, the first step is to list all your commitments – sports, extra-circular and tutoring, etc.
- Then you need to plug them into your timetable, to ascertain what time you have available for studying after school during the weekdays and on the weekends with your commitments in mind.
Note: If you feel that you do not have enough time in the week to study with your commitments, perhaps it may be wise to consider how necessary those commitments are, especially in Year 12. You can always come back to them – once Year 12 is over!
- Work out what times are your power hours. These are the hours where you get the most out of your brain.
This is different for everyone and only you will know your true power hours. For me personally, I start to power down at 8 pm, whilst I’m quite alert and can get more work done in the early hours of the morning, so I normally schedule brain-intensive tasks from 6 am – 8 pm (with breaks in the middle, of course! )
- Working with the available time you have, make study blocks during the week, when you could fit in time to complete homework & assignments and time for your personal study, which is different to homework. These study blocks should ideally be centred around how long you can concentrate. School periods are usually between 45 – 70 minutes. This is for a reason; it is because this is the time period that we can concentrate solely on one topic without a break. So, your study blocks should be around this time frame. After every study break it’s important to have a 5-minute break, refresh your mind and then start on the next task. These small mental breaks help keep us refreshed. Now, this is just a guide – some people can have longer or shorter study blocks depending on their concentration levels. That’s fine and something you need to work out for yourself.
- Now that you have study blocks during the week, you will need to allocate them towards certain subjects and tasks. I suggest for example, rather than simply planning to do Biology during a study block, set an aim to complete questions on the chapter on Cells, or reviewing the Infectious Disease Module, or completing one past paper under timed conditions.
- Make sure to schedule breaks. They are essential to your study success. You aren’t a robot, and definitely can’t study for hours on end. It is important that you give yourself breaks to refresh, regroup and to get stuck into your work again. I would recommend that most of your breaks should not involve technology, and should be strictly timed. Things to do in breaks include chores, organising your desk or room, eating, exercise or simply having a break!
- Make it look nice! Your timetable should be visually appealing – it shouldn’t be a bore to look at it; which is why I colour coordinate mine.
- Stick to it! Now that you’ve made your timetable, the next thing to do is to make it a routine. At the beginning it will require that you actively try to stick to it; however, as you continue to follow it, it will become more of a routine and you will have a firm study regime. Try to stick to studying the same subject at the same time each week, although you change the specifics of what you are studying in that subject. For example if you study Mathematics on Monday 5 – 6 pm; keep this consistent. But one week you may study functions, the next week probability, and so on.
- Revise it. Sometimes, you underestimate or overestimate the time a task may take, so it’s important that you see what works in your timetable and what doesn’t, and adjust accordingly. You may find that your study blocks are not the right length, or that you need a break at a certain time during the day – so work out what’s best for your studying style.
- Make it a habit. On Sunday night, you should plan the coming week. Once you have created the first timetable, you will just need to alter it weekly.
Following these steps, should allow you to be able to create an effective timetable. It’s important to try to implement this timetable so that it becomes a habit. Using the timetable, you should be able to manage your time, get more work done and get your study in!
If you have any questions, comments or have a blog request, please let me know down below!