Study Advice

Maximise Your Study: Master Your Time Management and Prioritisation Skills

By Clodagh Murray - 4 minute read

Do you often find yourself with a mile-long list of things to study but you just don't know where and how to begin? You're definitely not the only one! We know that sometimes the hardest part of your revision and studying is simply getting started and knowing how to tackle that to-do list. We've got four great methods and tips for you below to help you study productively!

1. The Eisenhower Matrix

The Eisenhower Matrix is a great tool to help you learn how to prioritise your study. You may find that you've had a study day with 10 topics to tackle. When you reach the end of the day you've touched on some of them briefly but in-between you were distracted by a bit of online shopping browsing. You also took a break that ended up an hour as you chatted to your sibling and then you spent time on an entirely irrelevant task that wasn't on your to-do list! Don't worry, we've all been there, you had so much to do yet, no clue where and how to start!

The Eisenhower Matrix is a prioritisation system that's going to help you. It comprises of 4 boxes, check out our example:

This grid helps you assign your task to the relevant place based on their importance and urgency. You should assess each of these tasks before deciding where they go. The order to tackle the tasks on your lists are:

  • Do: complete these tasks first as they're important AND urgent.

  • Decide: these tasks are up next, or even just set a reminder for when to get to these

  • Delegate: these are tasks that someone else might be able to help with.

  • Delete: with lots of tasks to do, anything in this list needs to get put aside or else reserved as a reward for completing the other tasks.

You can do this by hand on a piece of paper, you could make a grid digitally or you could even try using Trello to apply this prioritisation method to your study.

2. The Pomodoro Technique

This is actually a very simple study skill to adapt, despite it's unusual name! The Pomodoro Technique is one of the most popular tactics for blocking your time. It's a very straightforward process to make the absolute most of every minute of your study! We'd first advise you to get yourself a pomodoro timer, ideally one shaped like a tomato, there are lots of apps for this. Then, check out the process below:

  • Take a big task that you need to complete

  • Break that big task down into smaller parts

  • Start with one part of the big task

  • Set your timer to 25 minutes

  • Work solely and intensely on that task for 25 minutes

  • Then, take a 5-minute break for yourself

  • Repeat this process, working through the smaller parts to complete the overall task

The next time you need you're studying, maybe you have a chapter to revise, why not try this very effective method? It might take some time to adjust to a new study structure but try your best to stick at it! With time we have no doubt you'll ace this time blocking approach!

The next time you're becoming overwhelmed with all the study piling up on front of you, take a moment and breathe!

3. Distraction Avoidance

You might've always wondered how it's so easy to get distracted. Did you know that your brain is basically wired to find distractions? When you're trying to focus, distraction actually makes you feel good, so you seek it out. It's completely human if you struggle to avoid distractions when you're studying!

That's the downside, that your brain actively looks for distractions. The upside is that you can do something about that, it just requires you to consciously make an effort to avoid distraction. To get in the zone, you MUST eliminate any notifications you have, including:

  • If you have desktop notifications, turn them off

  • Put your phone on silent. Turn it upside down or even better, leave it out of your study space altogether!

  • Turn off any chat app services you might use like your school Microsoft Teams platform

Then, with the elimination of these potential distractions, you can get into the zone and start applying the other study techniques, such as Pomodoro.

4. Change your Study Spot

We have another trick to help you find the focus sweet spot that might appeal to you more than the nagging 'put your phone away'. Your brain loves novelty and you can tap into this with your study. 'The coffeeshop effect' involves you moving around and using different locations to study. When you begin to feel unfocused, you should move your study spot to regain that focus. A few ideas of places are:

  • A local coffee shop

  • A library, be that in your area or school

  • Or maybe just another room in your house!

  • Moving should help you resettle, refocus and get back to your work

The next time you're becoming overwhelmed with all the study piling up in front of you, take a moment and breathe. It's easy to let your mind trick you into thinking it's all just too much and you can't do it. In reality, you definitely can!

Remember these 4 methods and ideas to tackle your study productively. It may be too much to try them all at one go at first, so perhaps you could start by trying out one. After a while, you might then be ready to try out another one to add to your study techniques.

Wishing you lots of luck in your studies!