Best Practices for Study-Time Management

Between classes, labs, homework and life, there’s no shortage of activities to keep a nursing student busy. It’s important to give adequate time to all the priorities in your life, but it can sometimes seem like there just aren’t enough hours in the day.

So what’s a nursing student to do when it comes to finding study time?

“Be realistic with their time and hold themselves accountable,” said Nicole Woodby, professional nurse tutor at Chamberlain’s Columbus, OH campus. “A lot of students work full-time and have families, so when it comes to their free time, it’s important that they make the best use of it -- whether that’s prioritizing study hours or focusing on family.”

Woodby regularly counsels students on how to manage their time throughout nursing school. She says that although not all students share the same time constraints, they can all benefit from similar solutions.

Primarily, she suggests that students make weekly study plans. “These incorporate writing out everything you have going on that week: When you have class, clinicals, when you take your kids to school and when you work. Everything."

She said the key is to have it all written out in one place.

“Now you can cross-reference this with your class syllabi and see when assignments are due, when exams take place, when you work, etc. and if you create this plan week to week, you can start to visualize your free time and anticipate what’s coming your way.”

Making use of the time you have

Once you’ve outlined when you’ll have free time, Woodby recommends making the most of it by avoiding some common pitfalls.

“Distractions while studying are very commonplace,” said Woodby. “The Internet can be a great resource for students, but distractions are just a click away.”

To help combat distractions she offers a few recommendations:

  1. Put yourself in a distraction-free setting If possible, study in a library, on campus or away from your home to eliminate potential distractions.
  2. Use web browser extensions to help limit time on distracting webpages There are a number of productivity enforcing apps which can be added to browsers like Firefox and Chrome. Many involve timers which, when enabled, will either block sites of your choosing for a specific amount of time or will limit the amount of time you spend on those sites. So if you find it hard to avoid checking your Facebook newsfeed, you can briefly block Facebook and eliminate the distraction.
  3. Put your phone well out of reach It’s not enough to just silence a mobile device or even set it face down. Instead, put your phone in another room or give it to a friend or family member to hold onto while you’re studying.
  4. Stop social distractions before they start You’ll know well in advance when your exams are, so let friends and family know that you’re unavailable for a night out on the evenings before exams. It’s much easier to avoid responding to text messages when you don’t get them in the first place.
  5. Reward study time well spent There’s no need to stress yourself while eliminating your distractions. For every hour of focused study, reward yourself with a 10 minute break and enjoy your phone and the other distractions you’ve avoided. These breaks can help rejuvenate you for continued study, and help keep your mind from further wondering about what you may be missing.

Tips to keep in mind

Woodby called out not having a study plan as another common pitfall. “Since your study time is extremely valuable, you’ll want to make the most of it with a plan. Use exam review sheets if your professor provides them or outline the topics you want to cover in a study to-do list.”

She says that having a to-do list can not only help you study more effectively, but it can give you a sense of accomplishment as you check items off your list, bolstering your drive to continue.

When it comes to the material itself, Woodby recommends staying fresh on your previous weeks’ notes as you progress through each course. “It’s tempting to wait until the days before a final exam to go back and revisit notes from chapter one, but going over them week to week can help with information retention.”

Additionally, she said that while studying you should focus on the information you’re not comfortable with, rather than reviewing what you already know.

Woodby noted that not all of these solutions work for everyone, and that each student needs to find the study routine that works best for them. “Everyone studies in different ways and has different time commitments, but there’s always a way to find a study method that works for you.”

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