How to avoid falling behind
When you are studying it can sometimes seem like there is so much to do in so little time. When this happens it can be easy to fall behind and end up feeling like you are constantly trying to catch up with everything. This is never an ideal situation because you are likely to end up getting stressed by the amount of stuff you have to do which will stop you being very productive. However, with some forward planning you can avoid falling behind with your studying.
Make sure you know what needs to be done each week
This might sound obvious but if you don’t know what you need to do then it will be easy to miss something out which will need to be done in the future. There are two general categories of things which need to be done; things that you have to do specifically for this week, and things which need to be done in general, but not specifically this week. The first category includes activities like homework and note-taking for the specific things you are studying that week. The second category includes things like making revision materials. Although these things don’t necessarily need to be done that specific week, it makes sense to make them while the topics are fresh in your mind rather than having a last-minute panic two weeks before the exam.
For example, for my degree I have specific work (generally reading and online activities, or an assignment) which my study planner tells me I need to do each week. I also have other things which need doing, like making keyword revision cards as each topic is covered for an exam in the summer. I could leave this until the end of the year but I know that I prefer to revise as I go rather than leaving it all until the last minute. I also like to make a mindmap to summarise each week.
Make a weekly plan
If you have read other blog posts I have written you will know that I love using weekly plans to stay organised, and this is for a good reason – they ensure that I get what I need to do done each day, which over time means I won’t fall behind. Once you know what you need to do each week, put this into a realistic weekly plan, and then stick to it (even the best made weekly plan is no use if you completely ignore it!). I won’t explain the process of doing this here but I have written an in-depth post about this here.
Write things in your diary as they come up and plan for them
Take your diary with you every time you go out anywhere and as soon as something comes up, write it down. This way when you go to make your weekly plan each week you will know what you need to plan around. Also, if you know you have an especially busy few weeks coming up, try to get ahead to compensate for this. If you do this then you won’t fall behind if you need to have a couple of weeks where you have less time for studying.
Set aside time for studying and protect this time
If you have specific times for studying then you are more likely to study and avoid getting behind. One way to do this is to look at a typical week and decide when you nearly always have spare time and plan to use this for studying. Try to protect this time by avoiding making any other commitments during it (obviously this won’t always be possible so you need to be realistic but protecting this time as much as possible will help). If you have a job like mine where your hours are fairly random and you can’t guarantee to always be free on a Monday, Wednesday, and Friday morning, for example, then when you make your weekly plan just try to avoid making too many other commitments on top of your work etc. on weeks when you have a lot of studying to do.
Have specific ‘catch up’ time week
No matter how hard you try to be organised and stick to your weekly plan, other, unplanned things come up. You might be asked to work extra hours at the last minute, you/ your child might be ill, or you might end up seeing a friend you haven’t seen for ages at the last minute, for example. To deal with this, I try to plan ‘catch up’ time into my weekly plan. This is often on a Sunday afternoon and it is basically time where I don’t plan much to do in advance. This means that I can catch up with anything that hasn’t happened in the week, do extra research on anything particularly interesting I have been learning about, or just have free time. By having this time, you will feel less guilty if anything unexpected comes up in the week, or if something takes a lot longer than anticipated.
Give yourself breaks and rewards
Staying motivated to study is important when you are trying to avoid getting behind. If you are unmotivated then you won’t want to study so you will get behind quite easily. I have written a post about study motivation which talks about this in more depth but basically, giving yourself breaks throughout the day and rewards for achieving different goals/ tasks will help you to stay motivated and wanting to study.
I hope this post has helped you to stay on-top of everything and avoid getting behind – leave a comment to let me know what you like to do to avoid getting behind 🙂