As an adult learner, you likely have many responsibilities competing for your time and attention, making it essential to study smarter, not harder. Effective time management is a key component of success in any academic pursuit, and it’s especially important for those juggling work, family, and other commitments.
We have collected together some essential time management tips for adult learners to help you maximise your productivity, achieve your goals, and minimise stress.
Create a Schedule
Creating a schedule is one of the most crucial steps in effective time management. Start by identifying your regular commitments, such as work hours, family time, and other obligations. Then, block off time each day for studying, completing assignments, and reviewing material.
Be sure to include time for breaks and relaxation, too. Taking breaks is important for avoiding burnout and maintaining focus. Scheduling relaxation time can also help you feel less guilty about taking time off, which can make you more productive overall.
Once you’ve created a schedule, it’s important to prioritise tasks within each study session. Start by identifying the most critical tasks that must be completed, such as upcoming exams, assignments with approaching deadlines, or readings for upcoming lectures.
Next, prioritise tasks based on their level of difficulty. Starting with the most challenging tasks when you’re freshest and most alert can help you make the most of your study time.
Use Tools and Apps
There are many time management tools and apps available that can help you stay organised and productive. Some popular options include:
- Google Calendar: A free, online calendar that allows you to schedule events, tasks, and reminders.
- Trello: A visual task management tool that helps you keep track of tasks and deadlines.
- Focus@Will: A music streaming service designed to boost focus and productivity.
- Pomodoro Timer: A time management technique that involves working for 25 minutes and taking a five-minute break before starting again.
Experiment with different tools and apps to find the ones that work best for you.
Distractions can be a major time waster, so it’s important to minimise them as much as possible. Some tips for eliminating distractions include:
- Turning off your phone or putting it in airplane mode during study sessions.
- Blocking distracting websites, such as social media or news sites, using browser extensions like StayFocusd or Freedom.
- Finding a quiet, distraction-free study space, such as a library or private room.
Break Tasks into Manageable Chunks
Breaking tasks into smaller, manageable chunks can help you stay focused and make progress on larger projects. For example, if you’re working on a research paper, you might break the project down into smaller tasks, such as outlining, researching, and writing.
Completing smaller tasks can help you feel a sense of accomplishment and motivate you to keep going. It can also make larger projects feel less overwhelming.
Learn to Say “No”
As an adult learner, it’s likely that you’re already juggling many commitments, so it’s important to learn to say “no” when necessary. This might mean turning down invitations to social events or asking for help with household chores.
It can be difficult to prioritise your academic pursuits when faced with competing demands, but learning to say “no” can help you stay focused and achieve your goals.
Take Care of Yourself
Effective time management isn’t just about scheduling and productivity; it’s also about taking care of yourself. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, and exercising regularly.
Taking care of your physical and mental health can help you feel more alert, focused, and energised, making you more productive overall.
Ask for Help
Finally, don’t be afraid to ask for help if you’re struggling with time management. Talk to your professors or academic advisors for tips on managing your workload, or consider hiring a tutor or joining a study group.
It can also be helpful to talk to friends and family about your academic goals and enlist their support. They may be able to help you with household chores or provide encouragement when you’re feeling overwhelmed.
If you plan to study online and take online courses for your personal development, you will often have a dedicated lecturer on call to help you get through the course. This means they will help you every step of the way – so you never have to feel alone while studying.
Effective time management is a crucial skill for adult learners looking to succeed in their academic pursuits. By creating a schedule, prioritising tasks, using tools and apps, eliminating distractions, breaking tasks into manageable chunks, learning to say “no,” taking care of yourself, and asking for help, you can maximise your productivity, achieve your goals, and minimise stress.
Remember, time management is a skill that takes practice and patience to develop. Don’t be discouraged if it takes time to find a system that works for you. Experiment with different techniques and tools, and don’t hesitate to ask for help along the way. With dedication and hard work, you can become a master of time management and achieve your academic and personal goals.