Ah there’s no better day in the year than timetable day. What is timetable day I hear you ask? It’s the day you set aside from studying to put together, or even better, go through one of our, subject-specific, colour coded study timetables. What a day! By the end of it, you feel like you’ve achieved it all without even breaking out a sweat. Probably one of the most productive days of ‘studying’ you’ll ever have! 😉
But it’s probably safe to say that once it’s all pretty and perfect, actually sticking religiously to your timetable can get pretty tricky. Never fear – we’ve put together a few tips to make sure that even if you stray from time-to-time, you ultimately stay on course and stick to your study timetable.
Make it a concrete plan
Making a general, vague timetable can seem appealing at the time of making, with a totally flexible approach looking like a very attractive way of going about your study schedule. Fast forward three weeks though, and that flexibility has become a convenient excuse to put off a whole heap of work that is now really starting to pile up and was just a fancier way of predicting your procrastination.
Your timetable doesn’t have to be planned out down to every toilet break, but at the same time, it needs to do two things firmly:
- Plan out the course entirely, right up until the exam, and
- Make it clear what needs to be covered on a given day.
Having that solid structure will help take away that temptation to “leave it to another day”, keeping you on the right track to getting through what needs to be done in time for your exams.
Use the same one as a friend
While your study will at times be a pretty solo journey, your timetable does not have to be. If you share a subject with a friend, there are a few good reasons why sharing a timetable with them could be the right way to go.
If you study well together, then sharing a timetable means you’ll be able to coordinate this useful co-studying with minimal fuss. You’ll help keep each other on track by having the other as a healthy bit of competition for getting through the course and having another voice discussing the pros and cons of how you structure the timetable gives you a better chance of getting it right. With the right friend, a shared timetable is a definite recipe for success.
Adjust it if you have to
Let’s say you’ve got your hands on a great study plan which evenly balances out the topics all the way to your exam. But hang on – you’re now working on the very week the plan has you doing some key exam prep.
Do you call in sick to work? No way. Skip the exam prep? Absolutely not. Instead, you get creative and do some adjusting.
Not every week of the year, or day of the week for that matter, is going to be as well suited to study as others. That’s no reason for panic though; all you need to do is move things around to accommodate those time-poor weeks.
Making adjustments like doing a lot the weeks before and after, squeezing a little in during your busy weekdays and a lot onto your weekend days won’t take too long to figure out, but will make your study timetable a whole lot more manageable, and will probably help keep your anxiety levels down. No point stressing about the fact that you didn’t follow the timetable, you already have too much to stress about with exams.
Make up for lost time if you fall behind
No matter how good a plan is, no matter how much you’ve factored in activities and time away, something will happen to derail you. Whether it’s getting sick or losing your computer, the fact is, you will at some stage fall behind.
Making up this lost time with a few intensive days or weeks of study is not fun, but it’s much better than having to redo your whole plan, or worse still skipping the missed topic entirely. Getting through those gross days of catch-up will be a real effort, but the quicker you can catch up with your timetable and get back on track, the smoother and more beneficial your run-in to exams will be.
Tick it off as you go
It might sound a little childish and indulgent, but having a physical (or online) copy of your study timetable, where you can mark your progress with a big red “X” over topics you’ve covered, is not to be sniffed at.
There’s something super satisfying to literally marking something off a list, definitively being able to say “done that” and put that onto the page. Having that little psychological boost each time you complete an activity will be a handy combo of reward for work done and motivation to help keep you ticking on through the study timetable at a solid, consistent pace.
Whether you’re using a study timetable of your own making, or putting one of our carefully crafted ones to use, following these five tips will give you the best chance of sticking solidly with your plan, and therefore getting maximum value from it – all the way to the exam.