How to find time to get it all done
May 5, 2021
So, what did students with good grades do differently?
To put it simply, they scheduled activities better and used their time more wisely. If you do simple math, you’ll realize that there is more than enough time in every week to fit in studying, all your extracurricular activities, volunteering, and a few hours of work and socializing.
Studies show that to do well in high school, you have to spend at least 12 to 15 hours a week studying. This adds up to approximately two hours of studying every day, including weekends. Understandably, if you are a university student, you’ll need to spend more hours studying than in high school. As a rule of thumb, to have good grades at university, you need to put in at least two hours of studying for every hour you spend in class. That means, if you have a course load of 15 credits, you should aim for at least 30 hours of study time each week.
It may seem like a lot, but remember, a week has 168 hours. Given that you need approximately 56 hours of sleep a week, you are left with 112 hours to do everything else. If you are at the university, about 45 hours of that time will be spent attending classes and studying. You will still be left with 67 hours a week to prepare your meals, exercise, volunteer, socialize or work. That is more than 9 hours a day of non-study time! However, to make time for everything, you need to become well-versed in scheduling all your activities.
Here is what you can do to make time for everything:
The challenge is how to fit all of those hours of studying into your busy week, especially if you have extracurricular activities (e.g., sports, volunteering) or a part-time job? It’s actually not that hard, and you don’t have to stop having fun to get good grades. A survey of university students showed that those who underperformed and those who did exceptionally well spent the same amount of time per week on relaxing and socializing. So, what did students with good grades do differently? To put it simply, they scheduled activities better and used their time more wisely.
Use a timetable or calendar. Although there are many scheduling apps, we suggest learning the ins and outs of scheduling by using the pen-and-paper method. Click here to print out a blank timetable. Keep your timetable on your desk so you can add new deadlines and obligations.
Block off your activities. Mark down all the hours you are in school or doing extracurricular activities, such as sport practice, dance, music lessons, socializing, playing games, or jogging.
Pencil in the deadlines. In the “Tests and projects” section, write down all of your upcoming projects, tests, exams, and homework.
Keep in mind:
Students who get high grades report scheduling their study time throughout the week while the lowest achievers say that they almost never plan their study time and tend to study mostly around deadlines and exams.3 Nearly half (47%) of students who have a C-grade or lower do not always finish their homework, compared to only 6% of A-grade students.
Study in short bursts. It’s better to work for four 30-minute blocks and take breaks in between than to study for two hours without a break. Research shows that if you study for smaller chunks of time and take short breaks, you’ll be able to learn more and remember it longer.6 For example, instead of studying straight from 4:30 to 6:30 pm, you are better off studying from 4:30 to 5:00 pm, 5:10 to 5:40 pm, 7:30 to 8:00 pm and 8:10 to 8:40 pm. When taking a short break, instead of just checking your phone, get up and walk around or briefly close your eyes and rest your mind for a few minutes.
Spread it out. Learning a little bit on multiple days is more effective than trying to learn everything at once. Cramming in 7 hours of studying on the weekend and rereading your notes over and over is not as effective as studying the same material for an hour at least once a day throughout the week. In fact, spacing your study time can boost your test scores by about 50%.
Mix up what you are studying. Researchers suggest you’ll remember what you learned better if you don’t focus on just one subject for hours. After studying geography for 30-40 minutes and taking a 10-minute break, work on another subject, like chemistry or math.
Treat school like a full-time job. While in high school, you should plan to spend 40 hours each week on learning: about 25 hours in school and 15 hours outside of the classroom doing homework and reviewing what you have learned. In other words, you’ll have to put in eight-hour days. Your “work week” should involve six hours of school and at least two extra hours of studying every weekday, as well as five or more hours of studying on weekends.
Think about it!
The more distraction-free minutes you put into studying, the better grades you’ll get. Research shows that even just having your cell phone on your desk can negatively affect your ability to focus. So put your phone away in your backpack or, even better, in a different room. Make every minute count. Save talking to your friends for your 10-minute break or after you finish you are done studying.