Here are some basic guidelines that you can apply that will help you manage your time.
Study Difficult Topics First: When you are fresh, you can process difficult information more quickly. This will help you save time as a result. If you save difficult subjects to the last, then you will use up your best energy and it will be even tougher to tackle them and understand the concepts. It will also be harder to motivate yourself to stick with them.
Identify Your Best Time for Studying: Everyone has peak and low periods of attention and concentration. Are you most attentive in the morning, afternoon, evening or after 2 a.m.? Do your family or friends describe you as a "morning person" or a "night person"? Use your high energy times to study. Use your lower energy times for chores such as laundry and errands.
Do Not Cheat on Sleep and Nutrition: When students need a few extra hours for studying, they go without a few hours of sleep. Doing this is less effective in the long run. When you are tired, you spend longer clock hours to learn the same amount of material than if you had done this work during your peak hours of performance. You would be better off scheduling your studies gradually over time with plenty of sleep and breaks.
Use Spaced Learning and Practice: If you study in shorter time blocks with short breaks between, it will keep you from getting fatigued. This type of studying is efficient because while you are taking a break, your brain is still processing and learning the information. Research has long indicated that learning at the beginning and end of study of session is retained easier than what is studied in the middle.1 It also shows that this type of preparation assists in slowing the rate of forgetting.2 This is particularly true for relational material (that material for which we make associations).
Groom Your Study Space: Make sure to reduce distractions and study in areas that are free from things that can compete with your attention, such as phones, television, friends, and place to sleep. It is one thing to take a planned refresher break and another to be interrupted every few minutes so that you cannot concentrate. Bright light often serves as a stimulant so find a place with plenty of windows or overhead lighting. Also make sure your study space is a comfortable temperature and not too cold or warm which can become a reason to stop studying before you are really ready.
Schedule Personal Time as Part of Your Study Plan: Purposely place exercise, movies, spending time with friends and family, and hobbies and on your calendar as important to your overall study plan. Having time to relax is essential to learning. If you decide to go to the movies during a scheduled study session, then take out a later scheduled time for fun and move your study session there. The key is to move your study time around, rather than delete it for relaxation.
Try to Combine Activities: If you are spending time at the laundromat, bring your notes or flashcards to study. If you feel like relaxing at the beach, review your notes while getting some sun.
1. Glanzer, M. and Cunitz, A.R. (1966) Two storage mechanisms in free recall. Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behaviour, 5, 351-60.
2. Litman, L.; Davachi, L. (2008). "Distributed learning enhances relational memory consolidation". Learning & memory (Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y.) 15 (9): 711–716. http://learnmem.cshlp.org/content/15/9/711.full.pdf+html