How to study
Rachel: Hi and welcome to another episode of the Student Hacks Podcast! I’m Rachel-
Kelly: And I’m Kelly, and today’s topic will be all about studying, specifically our good old friend time management. We need time management so we can allocate time to study, take notes, and overall build good habits for this upcoming Spring 2020 semester! As far as I know, Autumn 2020 was a bit yikes.
Rachel: That’s true, and it is the third week of uni, and even if it seems like it’s still pretty early, tutorials have started, assignment dates are coming out, groups are being formed in classes and most of us are adjusting to the blended online/face to face classes.
Kelly: I don’t know about you but that already sounds overwhelming to me. Do we even have room to fit in our life outside uni?
Rachel: Surprisingly, yes we do! Kelly and I have cracked the code and will share some of our experiences and advice on time management and note-taking methods.
Rachel: After all, being organised early in the semester can set the tone for the rest of it. Warning, it’s about to get really nerdy in here.
Kelly: I want to start off with how I get organised. Before diving into content, I like to organise and visually see where assignments are due. To do this, I set up a table with the first column outlining the dates for this semester from week 1 to finals. The following columns are then allocated for each subject. From there, I type in what is due based on the due dates in the subject outline. This has really helped me to see when STUVACs are and figure out which weeks I’ll be busy. My template has been included in the UTS ‘How to uni’ module on ‘Getting it done’ which is linked in the resources below.
Rachel: That sounds like a great idea Kelly! And it’s super convenient to have all of the deadlines written on one document rather than checking each of the subject outlines every day to see if you have forgotten about an assignment or an upcoming quiz.
Kelly: Yep, that’s so true Rachel. You might be wondering, as for week to week tasks, I like to write my tasks down on a post it note. I assign each subject with a post-it-note colour so it is easier to track.
Rachel: Well I love organising myself with to-do lists. I usually write up each of my tasks on a post-it-note and categorise them from least to most urgent; this allows me to get through the most urgent ones first but still reminds me that I have other, less urgent things due sometime in the future. I also found that using different coloured post-its for each of my subjects really useful (and it also looked really pretty on my bedroom wall).
Kelly: Pinterest vibes.
Rachel: What’s even more satisfying is seeing how I progress with my tasks every week. And I have taken on the habit of rewarding myself whenever I remove a sticky note from my wall!
Kelly: That’s a really nice initiative. I always enjoy having a post-it free wall. It gives me the piece of mind that I can go and relax, and play some animal crossing. What do you normally reward yourself with Rachel?
Rachel: It really depends on the day for me, sometimes all I want to do is take a long nap, other days I like to plan and go out for lunch or have dinner with friends. It can even be little things, like watching YouTube or Netflix videos, and lazing around for the rest of the day on Tik Tok. Whatever it is, rewarding myself is really helpful for me because I look forward to doing the things that make me happy.
Kelly: Yes that’s so true. At the end of the day you should strive to do at least one thing that makes you happy. That’s why it’s important to manage your time efficiently to make sure you have time left in your day to do happy things. Like having a chat with friends, and just chilling.
Kelly. So for me to manage my time, I use the Pomodoro method. It is setting a timer for either 25 or 50 minutes, once that timer is up you take a 5 to 10 minute break. You rinse and repeat this 5 times. On your fifth time, instead of taking a short break of 5 to 10 minutes, it is a 15 to 30 minute break. Once that is up, you rinse and repeat the entire process. I would recommend this method to help keep yourself concentrated on a task and learning how long it takes you to complete a task.
Rachel: If you feel like this may not be useful for you, I also use the Count-down app on my Mac. This app shows me the amount of time left to finish a task. Not only does it help me create a deadline for me but it also puts a good amount of pressure on myself.
Kelly: As you can see, time management is different for everyone. What may be helpful for Rachel and I to stay organised may not be so helpful for you. So don’t feel discouraged, it’s still the start of the semester so there is plenty of time to get to know what works best for you.
Rachel: Kelly and I spoke to David Taplin, a learning skills counsellor from UTS Counselling and got his top tips on time management and notetaking.
Kelly: What would be three key tops that you would give to a student about just how to study in general, not just in particular for time management or notetaking?
David: Hi there. I’m David Taplin, one of the counsellors in the counselling service which is part of the student services unit. My specific role is a learning skills counsellor, and I meet with students in conversations about how to learn effectively and how to be efficient and organised in study.
David: The first tip I would have would be planning. At the start of the semester you should plan your semester. And if you look online with the various support that UTS puts up, you know the ‘how to Uni’ section from the Student Learning Hub has got some really useful tools around planning processes. And so I would hope that a student would plan their semester. That is, they know when all their assessments are due, but also additionally have reflected about how long is likely to take to complete those assessments. So not only do they have in their calendar system a reminder about when something is due, they’ve got a reminder about when they need to start doing the question analysis, when they need to start doing the background reading or their target to complete most of the background reading, a time to write the first draft. So you know somethings due in Week 12 that’s broken down into a series of steps from possibly as far away as week six, or week seven up to week twelve.
David: The second top would be with notetaking, to really think into the ‘why’ you’re taking the notes, how you’re going to use them and think of notes as being something that actually don’t represent a moment in time but you’re continually come back to them and elaborating them and detailing them as your learning and understanding changes which might be periodically. Particularly if you have an exam type assessment that at a certain point, you actually regenerate a completely new set of notes as part of that process of preparing for the exam. And again, the error I sometimes see students making when they come to that regeneration of a new set of notes in preparation for exam time assessments, is they generate a more detailed version of notes, whereas actually they need to be generating a more kind of summarised version of the notes, because really, the information, the material should be in your head not in the notes.
David: My final tip for effective study would relate to looking after your brain, which involves regular exercise. There’s a large amount of research that shows physical exercise helps your brain to function better, and there’s also an enormous amount of research that shows sleep is really important to your brain. When you’re asleep, your brain is doing two things. Its repairing itself and its consolidating memory processes. So have you done a whole lot of hard thinking during the day or learning some new stuff? Sleep is a really important step of that being organised and consolidated into your long-term memory.
Kelly: You have reached the end of this episode. Now, to recap on how to manage your time effectively.
Rachel: Step one: plan.
Kelly: Understand why you are writing notes.
Rachel: Step three: take care of yourself.
Kelly: We hope you find these tips helpful.
Rachel: See you in our next podcast episode, until then.
Rachel and Kelly: Stay organised.
Pomofocus - Pomodoro Method
Mac App Store – Countdown Timer Plus
How to Uni – Assessment Template
UTS Counselling – Managing your time
Written and Presented by Kelly Ding & Rachel Khalef
Produced and Edited by Liv Day
Music: Spark of Inspiration – https://www.silvermansound.com/