NCLEX Prep Time Management Methods You Need to Know

  • 18 April, 2022

Time management and studying for your NCLEX go hand in hand-you really cannot have one without the other. In order to put your best foot forward and increase your chances of passing your NCLEX, you must acquire appropriate methods to manage your time effectively. If you neglect to do so, you put yourself at a higher risk of needing to take your NCLEX more than once. Do yourself a favor and prepare ahead of time so that you find success in obtaining your license with ease. Let's take a deep dive into three of the essential methods vital to understand and incorporate into your own regimen to optimize your study efficacy.

3 NCLEX Prep Time Management Methods You Need to Know

1. Buy a calendar and fill out your day-to-day activities

  • First off, start by investing in a calendar or planner large enough that you can fill out all of your activities throughout the day. This gives you the ability to visualize what you are doing and make any necessary changes based on what is working and what isn't.
  • Being aware of where you are spending your time can be eye opening and provide insight as to where you can seal gaps in productivity. It is important to spend quality time dedicated to your studies, but it is just as crucial to give yourself rest, as well. Studying hard all day can actually set you back and lead to mental fatigue, so establishing a healthy balance of hustle and rest is more than necessary. It may seem over the top or tedious to be so attentive of your day-to-day habits, but remember, if you study well the first time, you can put this behind you and begin your career as a nurse. Put in the hard work now so that you do not have to repeat the process. Treat your studies like your temporary full-time job and watch as you reap the benefits later on.
  • Schedule everything ahead of time and follow it to a tee. Pick the time(s) of day that you best acquire information and be sure this is when you choose to schedule in your study time. If you know that you learn best in the morning, make your life easier and do not force yourself to study in the evening.
  • Find a specific amount of time that you feel would optimally suit your lifestyle and implement it into your regimen. If, for example, you feel as if 6 hours a day is an ideal amount of time to study, make sure that you write out when you will take breaks within this span. Do not attempt to sit for 6 hours straight - taking several minor breaks will help you focus more effectively. After you have established the blocks throughout the day that will best suit your studies, be sure to then fill in where you plan to unplug.

Here is an example of how to fill out a day of your study schedule:

8:00 am - Wake-up, eat breakfast, shower
9:00 - Study time - pick a topic to review (ex: electrolytes, burns, diabetes, etc.)
10:00 - Break time- exercise (walk around the block, yoga, at home workout, etc.)
10:30 - Practice questions
12:00 - Lunch break
12:45 - Study with a buddy
2:00 - 15-minute break
2:15 - Study time
4:30 - Unplug and unwind from your studies
5:00 - Eat dinner
5:30 - 9:30 - Engage in activities unrelated to NCLEX topics (Read a book, spend time with friends or family, watch a movie, go out for dessert, etc.)
10:00 - Wind down for bed

  • As you can see, this is blocked out hour by hour to keep you on track and focused. Of course, life does happen, and if there are days that you stray away from your schedule, don't beat yourself up, just plan to get back on track the next day. However, do your best to follow a regimen so that you are staying focused and using your time to the best of your ability. This will vary person to person, and the amount of detail you prefer to include on your schedule is entirely up to you and your preferences.
  • Following a well-planned schedule can keep you on track and thus increase your chances for passing your NCLEX. Do not underestimate this highly effective tool for optimizing your time management.

2. Set timers to remind you to take study breaks, and keep your phone out of sight

  • Another incredibly underestimated resource is to set timers of some sort to remind you to take breaks throughout the day. Whether these are set on your phone or elsewhere, this can help in making sure you are giving your mind the rest it needs. If you attempt to study for 5 hours straight, your mind can begin to wander, and your focus will eventually diminish. Give yourself the much deserved time to reset so that you are not at risk for studying on autopilot and getting very little to nothing accomplished. Use your time well and monetize on pockets of time where your focus is sharp.
  • Piggybacking off of this notion, be sure that if you are using your phone to set timers on, that your phone is not within your sight. Turn the volume loud enough to be able to hear the timer go off, but set it across the room and only use it when you are taking a break. Having your phone next to you during your study hours will only cause distraction. When your cellular device is in your line of vision, you are able to see any notifications that might pop up, taking your attention away from the area you are currently studying.
  • Oftentimes, when we decide to just "quickly" look at the notification, we end up mindlessly scrolling, getting lost into the abyss of the web. To avoid this possibility, keep your phone out of the way while you are studying and only plan to use it while you are taking a break or done with your studies for the day.
  • Although it does not sound enjoyable to essentially keep your phone hostage, it will dramatically improve your attention, and you will retain more information in the long run.

3. Study how you learn best

  • Last, but certainly not least, figure out the best ways that you acquire information and incorporate those techniques into your routine. It is disadvantageous to attempt to learn new information in a way that does not benefit or align with your ways of thinking. This is the equivalent of mixing water and oil-it doesn't mesh so do not attempt it. Stick to what you know and what works well for you. Furthermore, choose pockets of your day that you know your attention will be at its finest.
  • By this point in time, you most likely are aware of how you study best, but if you are still somewhat unsure, give yourself room to experiment with different techniques. Whether you prefer to study with a friend or by yourself, listen to audio lectures, write out your notes, focus on practice questions, utilize flashcards, etc., find which methods work best for you. Don't waste time trying to reinvent the wheel just because you saw somewhere that a certain method was deemed the "best way" to study. The best way will be individual to you and your learning style. If you prefer several learning styles, even better! This gives you a chance to switch things up and keep it fresh and exciting.
  • Ultimately, find how you are able to stay engaged when you hit the books, and stick with what you know. Do not get caught up in what other people are doing or feel as if you have to replicate the same regimen as your friend who learns entirely differently. This is about you and your preferences, and there is no wrong way as long as it works well for you and your learning style. No one else can take the NCLEX for you, so do not allow anyone to dictate how you should study for it.

There are countless strategies out there that discuss time management skills and how to best implement them into your routine. However, not all of them are conducive to every single individual and may not provide the benefits you are after. It is imperative that you take the time to really evaluate your own schedule and determine what factors are important when it comes to the value of your own efforts. With that being said, there are benefits for everyone, regardless of learning style, from each of these three suggested techniques. Scheduling your day, setting reminders for breaks, setting your phone out of sight, and learning how you best study are all tactics that can be tailored to each individual to some degree. While there may not be a one-size-fits-all approach to managing your time, there are methods that can be adopted however you see fit. Make the effort to learn about approaches that suit you best in order to effectively manage your time and thus come out victorious over your NCLEX.

If you're a nursing student getting ready to take your NCLEX exam, consider partnering with EduMind to help boost your chances of success on exam day! Sign up now.

About the Author: Kelsey Mangan

Kelsey Mangan is a registered nurse, who graduated from Linfield College in 2018 with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and minor in education. She is a health and wellness advocate, writer, wife, and a new mama to baby Paisley. In her spare time, she enjoys working out, spending time with friends and family, finding binge-worthy shows on Netflix, and snuggling with her sweet daughter.

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