Here are two big things you can do to take control of your time…and hopefully help you get some semblance of your social life back while you are in nursing school.
Determine your barriers to productivity
how you will overcome them
Think about things that keep you from getting adequate study time or completing your work...
Do you feel so overwhelmed that you don’t know where to start?
Are you a procrastinator? You keep putting things off until you don’t really have adequate time to complete them?
Do you feel ready to study, but you can’t ever find your notes or that thing you’re looking for and you spend more time searching for the things you need to study than actually going through the material?
Are you spending your whole time studying in a group only to find that you leave the group knowing little more than when you started, or worse, you are more confused after your session? …or…do you spend hours and hours reading through your assigned readings but feel like you never really understand the material?
Identifying the things that keep you from sitting down to study, or distract you once you start, is the first step in re-claiming your time and using it more efficiently.
Here are four common barriers to productivity:
1) Feeling overwhelmed
This can be due to many different causes. It can be something more simplistic like lacking organization. Or, of course, it can be due to much more complicated situations – a lot of life stressors.
Determine why you are feeling overwhelmed. Do you have too many responsibilities? Maybe you are in school, and work, and have kids, and primarily take care of the house, and cook every family meal, etc. If you are at all able, find a way to delegate amongst your family. Ask people for help. I know it can be hard to do sometimes, but it’s only for this season of life. And the faster you successfully complete school, the faster you will be able to reciprocate.
Determine your top priorities and set smart goals for the semester (learn more about both here). Once you have done that, you can more easily identify things in your life that are non-essentials, or things that can go on the backburner for the time being. Remember, you can endure anything for a semester. Just focus on one semester at a time.
If the feeling of overwhelm is due to the quantity of information that you are learning and you simply don't know what to study, or how to study, or where to start…check out this post all about study habits in nursing school.
2) Master Procrastinator
You know who you are…and you’re not alone. I swear my apartment in nursing school was never as clean as it was during finals week…every semester.
Set hard deadlines and find people to hold you accountable to them. Find some friends or family members that will keep you on track and ask them to help you. If you can find someone in your class that can help you with this it’s even better because they know exactly what you need to be doing every week or every day.
Another system that can be effective for some is to set up some sort of a reward system and reward yourself whenever you reach certain goals or milestones.
One very effective method of procrastination (and a giant time suck) is social media. This is not a problem for some, but a huge barrier for others. If it is for you, I encourage you to do what you need to do to limit your time – erase apps from your phone or use it as a reward. For instance, if you are studying in 45 minutes to 1-hour time blocks (which I advocate), reward yourself with 10 minutes of social media or with checking your email during your break between study sessions. If you bring your laptop or ipad to class with you and know that you’re prone to surfing the web or getting on Facebook during the lecture, then don’t bring any technology with you into the classroom – or use an app that won’t let you access certain sites (i.e. your kryptonite) during class time. Alternatively, you can have a classmate hold your technological devices hostage during lecture and only give them to you during breaks if that will help you focus.
You’re not a terrible person if you are a procrastinator. But, you are definitely cheating yourself of valuable time, and potentially a letter grade or two, if you are chronically procrastinating and never leaving yourself enough time to study.
3) Lack organization
Ask a friend for help if you need…preferably someone who is actually organized.
Check out this post to see my top tips and tricks for getting organized.
…and the fourth barrier…
4) Utilizing the wrong learning style.
People learn best in very different ways. What works for your best friend or study mate, may not be the way that you learn best. You are going to remember far more material and usually understand content much better when you are learning through your preferred learning method.
So, the goal is to identify which style or styles – because we often will use more than one – that suit us the best, and utilize those styles as often as possible.
The four styles are..
1) Visual –
Visual learners prefer the use of images and graphic organizers to access and understand information. If you are someone that can visualize a page that you have been studying, or if you draw pictures and utilize images to help you breakdown, understand, and memorize information – then you are most likely a visual learner, at least to some degree.
2) Read & Write
These are students that prefer to learn through words. So, if you are a student that will read the assigned chapters, take a few notes and understand the information, then you are probably a read & write learner.
Auditory learners best understand information through listening and speaking – for instance a lecture setting typically of most classrooms.
Some auditory learners learn best through the aural style – in which they rely heavily on the use of mnemonics and repetition to learn and retain information.
Kinesthetic learners best understand information through tactile, hands-on learning.
If you are a kinesthetic learner, you probably get the most out of your nursing labs or clinical, where you can work with the tools and instruments that you are learning about and perform specific actions that you can more easily commit to memory.
Identify your preferred learning method or methods, if you don’t already know them. Once you have identified them, you should then start to tailor your studying to match up with those styles. Most people utilize a combination of styles, so be sure to experiment with what works best for you.
Take the time to really identify your barriers to productivity. Once you are aware of your barriers and tendencies, you can easily identify when they are impeding your progress and implement tactics to combat them.
Check out this post for more time management tips.
Need more help with Time Management and Studying?
Want to start implementing and practicing these tips right away?
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