Whether you’re in high school or college, it’s important to be a good student. The actions you take while still in school not only help to solidify habits that could stick with you for the rest of your life, but they could also directly affect the outcome of your future in terms of your resume and job prospects. Follow the tips below to help you become a more efficient – and therefore a better and more productive – student:
1. Learn to prioritize
Prioritization is a skill that will benefit you for the rest of your life. As a student, you’re constantly bombarded with assignments, due dates, and upcoming exams, but in all honesty, some obligations are more important than others. The 10 page paper that comprises 25% of your grade, for example, is much more important than a routine history homework assignment that may or may not even be collected. In order to help prioritize your responsibilities, it is helpful to make to-do lists containing every task that needs to be completed within a certain period of time. Once you’ve established exactly what needs to be done, rank those duties according to importance (due date, weighted grade, etc.). Resist the urge to complete the easiest tasks first. Part of prioritizing means recognizing that it will benefit you much more to tackle the most important assignments first.
2. Stay organized
Organization is an essential element of efficiency, and, although it may initially be time-consuming to organize your notes and computer files, in the long term, it will benefit you immensely to do so. What’s more, you can take heart knowing that maintaining organization is much easier than the first step of initiating it. Dividers, three ring binders, and hole punchers can do you a world of good in terms of helping you keep assignments and notes in their proper place. Not only will this help you by allowing you to immediately locate items when they are due, but when it comes time to study for exams, all the information you need to succeed will be readily accessible and easy to decipher.
3. Don’t procrastinate
Procrastination is one of the world’s biggest productivity and efficiency busters. By giving in to procrastination, not only do you risk failing to complete assignments on time, but you also risk stressing yourself to the point where your workload becomes overwhelming. If you resist the urge to put assignments off until the not-so-distant future, you guarantee that you will be able to remain calm, even in the face of looming deadlines. Also, if you learn to overcome procrastination, you’ll soon learn that most assignments are not nearly as daunting as you’d anticipated, and, by starting early and slowly completing assignments piece-by-piece, you’ll probably discover that the vast majority of your schoolwork is really quite manageable.
4. Become a better note taker
You can’t avoid going to class forever, but by becoming a better note taker, you serve to maximize the time you already spend in the classroom, thereby making you much more efficient as a student. One great way to become a better note taker is to actually complete the assigned reading before coming to class. By doing so, you arrive prepared to have what you’ve already learned through the book reinforced by your professor, so when it comes time to study for exams, you’ll have a definite advantage over your cramming classmates. Another way to become a better note taker is to never, ever write in complete sentences. This all-too-common mistake is very time-consuming, meaning that students who write in complete sentences risk missing important information while they’re busy copying down a previous point.
5. Make every second count
This tip is meant to encourage you to do an honest evaluation of your lifestyle and assess exactly how your time is spent. If you’re like most students, you probably spend a large amount of time on tasks that are truly very meaningless, such as social networking, watching television, playing video games, or mindlessly surfing the internet. Once you’ve identified your productivity busters, however, it’s quite simple to reduce the amount of time you waste on them each day. Although taking breaks from schoolwork is extremely important for reducing stress, improving your mood, and giving your brain a chance to recharge, if you spend too much time avoiding your work, you risk getting nothing done. One great way to avoid wasting too much time on unimportant activities is to set a concrete limit on the amount of time you allow yourself to devote to these activities each day. Once you’ve reached that limit, you should step away from the time-waster, and reassign your attention to something more important. Or these activities could also be used as rewards for meeting certain milestones. For example, if you write three pages of next week’s paper, you get to reward yourself with 20 extra minutes of Facebook later on. Of course, there’s nothing actually holding you to these limitations, but if you can exercise enough will power to hold yourself accountable, you will surely develop into a much better student.
Although socialization and other forms of amusement are definitely important, most students need an occasional reminder that, as students, their primary job is to ensure that they are making the most out of their education. In order to become a better and more productive student, you need to learn how to organize and prioritize. Eliminating time-wasters and learning how to overcome procrastination are also extremely important. Finally, implementing better note-taking practices can greatly improve your efficiency in the classroom, thereby improving your overall performance as a student.