One of the major advantages of home study is you can get your education at the times most convenient for you. By choosing home study instead of live classes, you can still work at your practice full time and then use your time off to study for your continuing education credits. However, with this freedom comes responsibility.
Since you’ll be in charge of making time for studying, you’ll have to find a way to fit it in with all of your other responsibilities—work, family, social life, self-care. And since there’s no one keeping track or monitoring how much effort you put into your home study, it’s easy for your study time to be shortchanged by all of your other obligations. This can not only lead to a poor quality education, but it can also make home study seem like a real drag when it’s supposed to be convenient and easy.
One of the best ways to take control of your schedule and balance your day-to-day tasks with your home education responsibilities is to develop good time management skills. Time management makes time work for you, instead of the other way around. Moreover, it makes self-discipline a lot easier, because you’ll always know exactly what you should be doing. Ultimately, by learning how to effectively schedule all of your responsibilities, you’re likely to find you have way more time than you ever imagined. This will not only be a boost to your home study efforts, but it can make most of the other aspects of your life easier and more enjoyable.
This is the second of two articles that will provide you with helpful tips to enhance your time-management skills. To check out the first article and its tips, click here.
Tips for effective time management
- Make studying a priority. When nobody’s monitoring you, it’s easy for studying to take a backseat to the rest of your daily tasks. But your education deserves your time and attention, so whether you study a little bit every day or hit the books three days each week, make sure you put aside enough time in your schedule to complete your home study program without cramming.
- Take advantage of time-management tools. A to-do list is okay for daily planning, but you should also use other tools, such as weekly planners or scheduling software to help plan on a larger scale. And don’t forget you can always set alarms on your cell phone to remind you when you need to start a new task.
- Be realistic. Don’t set up impossible or extremely rigorous schedules for studying or any other task. This will not only cause the quality of your work to suffer, it will also make you feel guilty, frustrated and lead to procrastination. Instead, spread out your responsibilities over time and only take on tasks you’re confident you can complete without exhausting yourself.
- Develop a routine. If you try to put off studying until you have free time everyday, it’s easy to procrastinate when you have a lot of responsibilities on your plate. Instead, establish regular blocks of times each day devoted to work, personal errands and studying—then rigorously stick to your schedule. This way, you’ll know exactly how much time you have to accomplish everything and be far less likely to let one of your responsibilities impede on the others. Moreover, the consistency of the routine will provide for much more organization, which greatly lessens stress when things get really busy.
- Learn to say “no.“ If studying is a priority in your life, you need to be able to tell people “no” if what they’re asking you will impede on your ability to get everything you have scheduled done. Politely tell them you’ve already committed yourself, and perhaps even reschedule with them if it’s something you truly want or need to do.
- Take breaks. During the day, especially while studying, if you have large tasks that take a lot of time, don’t try to work straight through for hours on end. Instead, break up the time with a few short 10- to 15-minute breaks, where you can walk away from what you’re doing and refocus your mind. It might feel like you’re wasting time, but you’ll actually be more effective if you consistently refresh and recharge yourself with a short walk, yoga, meditation or even a quick nap.
Chris Towery is the former associate editor of MASSAGE Magazine and is currently a full-time freelance journalist. He has written hundreds of articles for more than 20 different magazines, newspapers and custom publishers. Much of his recent writing has been for the complementary and alternative health-care industry. To contact Towery, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.