A “Lifestyle (Study) Timetable” is an extended version of a “Study Timetable” that will allow you to become an expert at managing time during exam year. On a Lifestyle Timetable, you will enter other elements of your life outside your study and exam preparation in order to achieve a healthy leisure-study balance. Putting a Lifestyle Study Timetable together is the first step in taking control of real exam preparation. The following is a shortened version of the ten steps you need to put in place to get your first Lifestyle Timetable up and running:
- Create Blocks: Draw out a large rectangle representing your full week on an A3 sheet (landscape). Divide the week into thirty-minute blocks from nine a.m. in the morning until ten p.m. at night. Put a five minute break block at the end of each thirty minute one. If it is a school week, your revision blocks will commence at four p.m. on the weekdays Monday through Friday.
- Commitments: Write in all the things you have committed to for that week. These are fixed activities for that particular week that you need to attend. For example: school, mealtimes, sports practice, swimming lessons, attending church, etc. Note that there could be a different set of commitments for each subsequent week’s timetable.
- Prioritise: List the seven or eight subjects you study in order of difficulty for you. In other words, list your subjects from one to seven, one being the most difficult and seven being the least in order of priority. Consider how much you enjoy the subject when ranking it.
- Breakdown: Break down each subject by topic and sub-topic on a separate A3 sheet, so that you can tick them off as they slot into your new timetable over the weeks and get completed.
- Frog Subjects: Fill in your first set of sub-topics (from your breakdown sheet) onto your blank study blocks for the week. These are sub-topics of the subjects you find the most difficult or those which are not your favourite (subjects ranked one to three). You should consider giving slightly more blocks to these subjects than those favoured in point six below.
- Fav Subjects: Subsequently, enter the sub-topics for the subjects you are good at or like, remembering you always need to leave some free wind-down time before bedtime. These subjects will be ranked four to seven on your priority list.
- Rotation: See how you can build in the rotation of learning styles into your study blocks to keep your brain interested. Rotate your study blocks for each topic between learning things off, listening to audio, creating mind maps, online videos, writing, doing summaries, creating flash cards, reading textbooks, drawing diagrams, discussions with your friends, checking solutions, educational television/DVD, rewriting notes, reviewing class work etc.
- Breaks: It is recommended to take a longer break every two hours, using one (thirty minutes) or two blocks here. Along with breaks, include free time for leisure activities and meeting friends etc. Your Lifestyle Timetable will change every week as you move closer to a more realistic and better balanced version week on week.
- Urgent or Important: Your Lifestyle Timetable blocks for each week should reflect what is urgent and what is important for that particular week. It is important to be able to distinguish between “Important” and “Urgent” work. For example, homework will normally be urgent, and revision will become more so as the year progresses.
- Catch Up: You should only plan a week in advance to ensure your focus is firmly on what’s coming up. I would advise you to leave a few blank ‘catch up’ blocks at the weekend (when you have more flexibility), as sometimes things crop up during the week and you might lose the odd block. If you do miss a study block for whatever reason, enter that sub-topic into one of these weekend ‘catch up’ blocks you’ve put in place. In this way, you never miss a block and eventually everything gets done.
Having a balanced approach to exam preparation will energise your study. Put your Lifestyle Study Timetable in place today, ensuring you pencil in the leisure activities you enjoy doing. Combining these activities with a focus on the key content for each subject will set you up nicely come exam day. Joe
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© Joe McCormack 2020