1. Place two table clocks on your study table. Both should be stop clocks. Give each clock a name. Let their names be Actual and Believed. The Actual clock will keep a count of the actual time you spend on your studies, while the Believed clock will maintain a record of the time you believe you are spending on your studies.
2. Set both clocks to 12 noon when you start your studies for the day. Stop both (not one) when you give yourself a planned break of more than half-an-hour. This could be for an afternoon nap, for going out with friends, watching a movie or something else.
However, when your break is of a duration smaller than half-an-hour, or at least that is what you believe, stop the ‘Actual’ clock and let the ‘Believed’ clock tick as usual. This is the time when you could be taking an unplanned nap, attending to a friend’s phone call, calling up somebody, going to the toilet, or simply stepping out to check the
weather. Even if you are daydreaming, stop the ‘Actual’ clock by the appropriate time amount.
3. Check the time on both clocks when you are done for the day. The ratio of time difference between the Actual and the Believed clock will give you the exact measure of your efficiency. An efficiency of over 80 per cent is excellent. An efficiency of over 70 per cent is acceptable. Anything below that is absolutely unacceptable.
4. Next, jot down on a piece of paper, a rough estimate of the time you spend on other, “little use” activities, such as attending phone calls or daydreaming. That will account for the difference in Actual and Believed time. This will also give you an idea of where and how you are spending a bulk of your time. This will also help you plan your day better.
Let me put this to you in another way. Let’s assume that you plan to study for six hours (as measured by the Believed clock) and you end up spending over 80 per cent of these six hours in actual study. I would say you are doing excellent from time management perspective. If not, you need to revise your strategy.
A Study Schedule to Crack Exams
The point I am trying to make in this exercise is that you must be aware about how much time you are ‘actually’ spending on studying, as opposed to what you may have ‘planned’ to spend. Awareness is the first step in time management. When I did this exercise, I eventually realised that my time efficiency was only 50 per cent. I was, of course not happy with these results and immediately set about correcting my course. I set a remedial plan because I was honest with myself and I had a correct assessment of the available time resource that I had.
You need to work with a this timeOmeter for at least a week to get a clearer picture of your time management abilities. Later, when you have taken steps to contain time wastage, you may also be interested in knowing what amount of time you have begun to ‘gain’ every week! (Seriously, not joking!)
Note however, that here I am talking about efficiency, not the actual number of hours spent on studying which is another parameter to work on. For this, you could set time goals for each day or a week. For example, you could decide that you are going to spend three hours on your studies during weekdays, and six hours on weekends. This
is just an example. How much time you want to set aside is of course your discretion and this is not something that I can comment upon, even if I wanted to…