One of the biggest concern adults learners have is how they are going to fit studying into their busy lives, on top of everything else they already have to do. Rest assured it’s entirely possible. The key is keeping on top of time.
Write down ALL of your time commitments
Think of every little thing that requires you to put time into it and write it on a piece of paper. This is called “brain downloading,” and it helps to keep you from becoming overwhelmed.
Write down not just your classes and your work shifts, but also your regular Tuesday and Thursday gym time, your volunteer shift at the animal shelter, the big group project you have in three weeks’ time, that concert you bought tickets to ages ago, and your niece’s karate competition next Saturday.
Buy an agenda, and use it
Now start putting everything you’ve written down into your agenda, whether that’s an old-school paper kind or Google Calendar. Some things in your calendar may already have specific dates and times attached to them, and some may not (like that group project, for example). For any items that don’t have a specific date/time, write down the amount of time you estimate you’ll need for it, and block out that many hours in the week you need to get it done, if not the exact day.
Schedule in buffer time
While you’re doing this agenda building, don’t forget to put a buffer between items where possible.
Maybe you don’t have a lot of control of when your classes are, but you can move the day you usually do your laundry. Building in buffer time gives you breathing room the ability to stay on schedule if things start to run over their allotted time.
Take stock of your day, your week, your month
After writing it all down, you’ll see exactly how much time you’ve committed yourself to in the coming weeks, and whether it’s realistic or not. If it’s not realistic (there are only so many hours in the day!), you’ll have to decide which items need to get a big black line put through them—and make sure it’s not always the self-care items, like going for a run or hitting brunch with your pals.
If one particular day of your week is consistently overbooked, figure out which tasks you might be able to partially complete the day before.
Maybe that means making the meal you bring to your regular Friday potluck the night before, or colour-coding your notes for tomorrow’s study group while you watch Netflix at night.
Exit your inbox, close that social media tab
Even if we have it all planned out, managing time can feel like more of a challenge today than it has in the past. There are endless distractions that whittle away our hours without us even realizing it.
Some people might suggest deleting your Facebook account, but the better option is to fit social media into your schedule rather than denying it altogether. However, do think about deleting social media apps from your phone during busy periods.
By the same token, don’t get sucked into the inbox abyss. Emails might keep coming in—but they’re also not going anywhere. You’re not obliged to answer an email, text, or tweet right away. Carve out a specific amount of time to spend on email and social media, rather than leaving a bunch of tabs open on your browser and constantly checking them throughout the day.