Prioritizing and Organizing Studies: A Guide to Self-Directed Learning #3
“The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule but to schedule your priorities”
-Stephen R Covey.
In the first two articles of our Guide to Self-Directed Learning we talked about the Three C’s of Success and the SMART Goal Setting System, we advise you to read those articles before reading this article.
Sports or studies? Reading or Writing? Lectures or Self-Study? The daily dilemmas of a student’s life, and often we as students tend to sway in the direction of our peers. Why? Because in our minds we keep on thinking that “Oh I’ll do that later” or “This isn’t important” and before we know it, we’re late on assignments, sleep-deprived coping with studies and aren’t able to cope with our academics neither interest.
While this is normal for most students, embracing a simple system that helps you prioritize and organize studies and interests without having to compromise anything? How? Let’s find out!
Prioritizing and Organizing Studies
All we need to do is embrace a simple system that helps us tell our brain what’s essential and what isn’t. This helps us find that urgency and passion we’re missing when we do tasks essential for our progress but not to our interests.
Now, Let’s understand how you can organize your studies and interests with a simple system.
The D.N.D. System for Prioritization.
Before we start learning this type of system, I want you to write down all the things you’re going to do in the form of tasks. I also want you to write down how much time you want to give those tasks in your day. You don’t have to write too much detail, just the crux of the activity in one sentence.
Out of everything that you’ve written, what are the things you are passionate about? If you’re a student who’s preparing for Boards, what’s that one subject you love and want to start your day with? Is that subject going to give you a significant advantage over your peers? What’s that chapter that you want to throw yourself into? Once you analyze your list and identify tasks you want to devote yourself to, mark all those tasks as D and highlight them as red.
After looking at your list, you know that some things are unavoidable. These can range from the chapters or topics you are weak at or the basics like getting exercise and doing your chores. Identifying these tasks is crucial for academics as they help you practice your weak subjects, which in turn helps you immensely in the long run. You can mark these tasks as N and highlight them green.
Let’s face the truth, not all of the tasks are habits or things you religiously need to follow. For example, I love playing chess, but as a NEET aspirant, giving two hours a day to chess wasn’t going to solve all the organic chemistry problems that I couldn’t figure out. Delay tasks aren’t meant to be delayed forever. A delayed task this week can be allocated as a Need Task or Devote Task next week according to the priorities of that week, month, or day. You can mark these tasks as D and highlight them yellow.
I tried using this system for my NEET Preparation a couple of years ago, and it completely changed my life! I was able to prioritize and organize my studies, and find the perfect balance between my academics and my social life! Here’s how the DND System changed my NEET Timetable:
Since I was passionate about physics, I gave it the maximum time. This helped me finish my physics syllabus faster and helped me find time to revise more and more in the future. The key to forming a timetable like this is to subtly overestimate the time you need to finish that task. This extra time can help you transition much better during subjects or tasks without wasting time. The point of applying this system isn’t to increase the number of tasks but to maintain and enhance the quality of your studying strategy. Applying this system and clutching on to it for the rest of your life will not only help you study better but also become a more proficient professional and help you excel in the World of Work.
A Few Last Words
Another tip I want to leave here is to stop looking at a week in terms of days. When you sit down to plan your week and say that you have “seven days.” it might sound underwhelming. On the contrary, saying you have 168 hours might give you the confidence boost you were looking for. Obviously, you aren’t supposed to study for 168 hours a week, but even if we say that we sleep for eight hours a day, you’ll be left with 112 hours!
Now, if we consider that we spend around six hours a day on leisure and other necessities, you’ll still be left with 70 hours a week! By applying the DND System you’ll be able to make the most out of those 70 hours, and then do it again and again till you reach your ultimate goal!