Going back to study demands a huge commitment, especially for adults who are required to still meet several other responsibilities such as family and work.  While going back to class as an adult has clear advantages like greater life experience and clearer goals, the process can be somewhat disorienting and can put considerable pressure on your family and friends. Therefore, effective time management is a must.

The following are the top 10 effective time management tactics you can employ to maintain a balanced lifestyle while you study.

1.     Don’t procrastinate

One habit that you might find difficult to rid yourself of is procrastination. That said, eliminating procrastination is doable since it is a habit that can be replaced with another healthier habit. Waiting for motivation to begin a project can leave you falling behind in the demanding, fast-paced educational environment. The learning materials that you must catch up on can make you feel overwhelmed.

Here are some tips to beat procrastination:

  • Setting concrete goals: Rather than having a vague plan like “Today, I will study for my test,” be more precise: “Today, I will study Chapter 1 – 3 and practice questions”.
  • Mapping out your day: When you wake up, take 15 minutes to plan what you want to achieve. You can either use a paper and pen or an online calendar. Set realistic goals. Planning time takes some time, but it saves a lot of time.

2.     Prioritize your work constantly

Decide the most important task to start. Using a weekly planner can assist in reminding you of short-term goals like studying lectures and studying for exams.  The weekly planner can also assist in organizing non-academic tasks that you must accomplish to give you a better understanding of how your day or week will be like. An annual planner assists in planning your work for a semester and preparing you months in advance for upcoming events and upcoming deadlines.

3.     Understand yourself

Figure out your most productive time and then schedule your tasks. You should ensure that you tackle the high priority or high concentration tasks when you are most alert.

4.     Don’t be afraid to say no

Sometimes, saying no is not easy to do. Still, if you want to finish an assignment or study for an exam, you must learn to say no. Be polite when saying no and be clear with your reason. Find a time when you are free to meet that request or hang out with your friends.

5.     Find a dedicated study space and time

Find a place to study where you cannot be distracted by family members, friends, or hobbies. Do not submit to the urge to use your mobile phone, sending SMS, and social networking. If your chosen space is occupied, change the venue to places like the local coffee shop or library.

6.     Be Flexible

Sometimes, even the most carefully laid plans can fail, especially for those adult learners that have a family. Have a flexible mindset so that you are less stressed after your study schedule fails. Make sure to always plan for unexpected circumstances and obstacles.

7.     Budget your time to ensure that you make the most of it

A weekly schedule will assist you in determining the time you spend on your daily or weekly academic and non-academic activities. It also helps you determine the extra time you have before adding more commitments. Make sure you have some time in your schedule to clear your mind and relax. You don’t have to wait for a devoted 2-hour window to open up before starting the next to-do-list task. You can use small windows of time to complete some tasks like reading or sending a quick mail.

8.     Solicit help when you need it

Make sure your family members understand your study schedule and do not hesitate to ask for help. If your academic goals are understood and supported by family members, it will be easy for you to handle college/university work. Let family members, as well as friends, know that you are back to studying. If they know, they can lend a hand in some way. For example, picking children from school if you have an exam requires proper planning.

9.     Focus on long- term goals

Set goals that you can specify, measure, and achieve. Set sights on what you want to achieve and where you want to be. You will successfully achieve your long-term goals if you prioritize and schedule a time to finish immediate and short term goals. You have a stretched to-do-list, but why are you doing all those? Because your immediate and future plans are big! If you connect unpleasant tasks to a bigger goal, you will be more motivated to finish tasks that you would have perhaps put off.

10. Be realistic about your time

It takes a lot of time to do academic work, i.e., to research, take notes, write reports, and complete assignments. Put additional time into thinking, reviewing, and understanding your work, but don’t try to be a perfectionist. Be realistic about the time that you need to spend on every task.

With the correct strategy, these time-management tactics for adult learners that can yield amazing results when adhered to. As an adult learner, you surely have no deficit of other responsibilities.

Author: Now an official college survivor, Pamela Nguyen is passionate about social media, marketing, social justice, and blogging. In her downtime, Pamela is best friends with Restaurant Week, drinks so much bubble milk tea that the East Village tea bar owners have memorized her face, and watches an unhealthy number of movies and shows on her TV in her (not so tiny) Manhattan apartment.