Welcome back! In last week’s post we learned how calendars and to do lists can help you with short term planning while in school. In this post, we will also explore how long term planning can improve your time management.
Long-Term Planning requires you to develop a disciplined routine in order to achieve your upcoming goals (e.g. doing well on a heavily weighted assignment and/or perfecting a program application).
One strategy you can draw on to structure this routine is the Pomodoro Technique.
Crafted by Francesco Cirillo during the late 80s, this approach has six steps:
Step 1: Select a task that you want to really focus on.
Step 2: Set a timer for 25-30 minutes and promise yourself that you will not be distracted or interrupted until the alarm sounds.
Step 3: Immerse yourself in the task. If you remember something else that is time sensitive before the timer rings, write it down on a post-it note and set it aside for later.
Steps 4 + 5: When the timer rings, set down the task before you. Reward yourself for remaining disciplined during the 25-30 minutes by taking a break. This could be taking a walk to your local café to grab a latte, or watching an episode of your favourite show.
Step 6: Allow for a longer rest period between each timed task, if you feel motivated to complete 4 or more in a row. This will allow your brain to more easily process, sort, and cement incoming information (e.g. research findings to support your essay’s thesis).
A secondary benefit to this technique is that it allows students to break down large assignment requirements into digestible chunks.
Speaking of which… You may also want to consider the Spaced Practice Technique (aka the opposite of cramming).
This technique draws on the forgetting curve. Essentially, if you don’t frequently revisit the material covered in class (both before and after the lectures), you are more likely to forget the knowledge you’ve learned from it within a week’s time.
You can practice this technique by following these 5 steps:
Step 1: Plan short review sessions often (e.g. 30-45 minutes).
Step 2: Review over an extended period of time, instead of doing so all at once. For you, this pattern may look like:
Day 1: First study session
Next day: Revisit & Review
After 3 days: Revisit & Review
After 1 week: Revisit & Review
After 2 weeks: Revisit & Review
Step 3: Prioritize reviewing the oldest course material first. To study effectively, your brain needs to forget what was learned in a past session. I know, this sounds backward. But the idea is that restudying this past material will make your brain work harder to recall it. The more your brain is challenged to remember the material, the more easily you will be able to recall it.
Step 4: Integrate new material with old material during your study sessions. By this I mean, try to forge connections between topics you’ve learned throughout the course(s).
Step 5: Create both check-lists and summaries. Before your study session ends, write a brief summary or list of what you’ve learned. You will want to re-read this summary or list at the beginning of your next study session, to refresh your memory.
While planning takes time, it actually saves time! The most successful students are good time managers!
Cirillo, F. (n.d.). The Pomodoro Technique: Do More and Have Fun With Time Management. Retrieved March 6, 2019, from https://francescocirillo.com/pages/pomodoro-technique
O. (2018, August 30). How to Study Using the Spaced Practice Method. Retrieved March 7, 2019, from https://www.oxfordlearning.com/what-is-spaced-practice/