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Structuring your day

How this strategy will help you

Two factors impact your productivity:

  1. the number of hours you spend doing an activity
  2. the quality of those hours

You can spend 3 hours studying, but if most of that time involves scrolling through social media and staring out the window, it won’t do you much good. We all have times of the day when it’s easier to do certain activities. Some people find it easier to concentrate on school work first thing in the morning while others do their best work at night. It helps if you can work with your natural rhythms.

Structuring your day is about making sure that the number of hours you spend doing an activity matches your priorities and making sure that the time of day you’re dedicating to academics will allow you to do your best work. Simply put, structuring your day helps you maximize the quantity and quality of time spent on your academics.

How to maximize your day

It is easier to make changes in how you manage time if you know how you are spending it. Start by tracking everything you do. Choose a day of the week that you notice you’re regularly having a harder time being productive. You can also look at your schedule and pick the day where you have the most open space in your day. People often find it harder to manage time when they have a lot of it. If you’re feeling ambitious, you can map out your whole week. We have a time tracking worksheet that you can use to track your activities and think through the steps described below.

time tracking worksheet that contains time interval and activities

How to maximize quality of time

By scheduling more cognitively challenging tasks during the periods of the day when your brain focuses the most easily, you will increase your productivity. Think about when you have the easiest times focusing. For many people, that’s either in the morning or at night. Notice what you are doing during your peak periods of productivity. Is there any way to shift your schedule around so you can do academic work during this period?

It’s also important to be aware of when you are least productive. Many people notice they have a lull in concentration and energy somewhere around 3pm or 4pm. Your cognitive lull period is a great time to schedule social activities or exercise.

times I focus best in a day, including morning, afternoon, evening and night

How to maximize quantity of time

To see the number of hours you spend doing different activities, write out how many hours in your day you actually spent doing different types of activities. Are these totals in line with your priorities? If not, set goals for making changes.

different domains of activities, including academic, health and wellness, fun, life business, clubs, teams and others