Saving time

Studying takes time, and it is easy to spend too much time on one matter to the detriment of others, this combined with the time it takes to do all other things in life. Like we still have to sleep, eat, socialise, rest/ relax, probably do a part time job and travel! Into this must go lectures, tutorials, reading, writing and even thinking time.
It might be a good idea to create a pie chart to see how time is being used in any one day or an average day, and then another pie chart for how time might be used, given the demands for study. The elements for study should be broken down into detail in order to do more with them. Thus put down how much time is needed for reading, writing one essay, writing another essay, some research, and so on. This level of detail can be used in a planning exercise week by week, or less detail suits an exercise ahead of some weeks of study just to see how time can be used better.
A good idea is then go on to do a Learning Plan Diary, perhaps using a Personal Information Manager (PIM), to incorporate:
  • Thinking time
  • Reading times
  • Writing times (break down into drafts, rewrites)
  • Preparation times
  • Notes organisation
  • Reflection
  • Meeting others for work discussion
  • Research
Add in locations and also use symbols. Also categorise work into self-learning (eg using a learning resources/ IT centre) and taught work. It helps being clear where self-learning takes place within time management (the most difficult and demanding regarding self-discipline in learning). On own computer have messages and pop up notes remind what happens that day and the next.
What is done depends on priorities, so another input to any diary is a ranking according to priorities. It is best if these can be worked out and entered well in advance, but by the nature of competing demands these priorities shift.
Then, of course, there is the question of whether the time allocated is used efficiently or inefficiently. A time appraisal is a good idea and this is also when a detailed breakdown is necessary.
  • Is the time allocated for reading used efficiently?
    How can it be improved?
  • Is the time allocated for writing used efficiently?
    How can it be improved?
  • What distracts from study?
    How can this be minimised?
  • Is there a better way to plan time for the:
    work assignments?
  • What spare time can be better organised and reused?
  • Is learning passively time wasted?
An Action Plan is a more detailed, qualitative approach to what has to be done within each subject area, thus at a more in depth level than a learning plan diary.
The other kind of diary is after the event. It is a Learning Journal. This is a qualitative evaluation of the learning after it has taken place. Write down what was done and when, and the reflection upon it. Put down also what can be done to improve the learning./td>
In terms of using a Personal Information Manager, some of this evaluation can be entered as the diary dates go past where allowed.