Have you ever kept a diary? Writing down what you did during the day, what your thoughts were and what you plan to do? When you maintain a diary, it becomes very easy for you to flip back through the pages and know exactly what you were doing on a certain date, say about 6 months back. If you had put down your thoughts, you would also know what your feelings were at that time. It becomes easier for you to analyze why you were feeling as you did and so on.
You can do a similar exercise with your studies, especially when you are preparing for your entrance exams. We call it a learning diary.
What do you need in order to maintain the learning diary? You should have a syllabus, hand-in dates, a reading program with links to exam questions.
The diary will record the your schedule, your targets, what you have accomplished during the day, what problems you are facing, how you plan to overcome them and what action you are taking.
Set out in detail the syllabus, that is, what you need to study and where you need to prepare. This is a one-time exercise. Plan in advance your study schedule, based on what your syllabus is. Make a rough outline. It need not be refined, because it is quite possible that you may need to adjust your schedule to accommodate some unforeseen or unexpected circumstances. You may have some other commitments too, such as you could be pursuing a sports activity or may be taking music or drawing lessons. You just need a rough signposting.
Now start your actual diary. At the end of each day, write down what you have studied, how much you have studied, what problems did you face and whether you managed to overcome them. There is no harm if you want to put down your feelings and emotions too. If you are feeling frustrated or irritated or annoyed or jubilant you can put that down. Later on you can look back and think exactly how you felt and why you felt like that.
Your diary will help in identifying your pain points and pin pointing exactly the areas where you need to work more and the areas where you have expertise. It will give you a definite direction and allow you to focus on what is important.
- Be consistent
- Be honest – that is, write down only what you have accomplished and whether you are satisfied with what you have accomplished
- You need to analyze your diary entries periodically
- Stick to your learning schedule
- If you have not completed your target on any day, try to make up for it in the subsequent days
There will be some days when you will be progressing fast and other days when you will be slow. On the days that you feel energetic and able to do a lot, work harder and longer but do not try to overstretch yourself. It is not wise to do that. For instance, if your normal capacity of work is at around 60 percent and on certain days you feel that you can do 90 percent, stick to 85 percent. There is no sense in exhausting yourself too much on one day and be too tired to work the next day.
Here are some tips for you to maintain a learning diary.
- Syllabus content : Write down the details of your curriculum and what you have to study
- Date by which I have to be prepared : What is the deadline for you to complete your studies and how much time do you have with you?
- Schedule of study : Write down what you plan to study each day and how much of the course content that you plan to cover.
- Topic 1 : no. of days of study
- Topic 2 : no. of days of study
It makes it much easier for you to embark on your course of study when you know what you have scheduled for the day. It also allows you to plan the other activities of the day.
Your diary entries could look something like this:
- What I did today
- Targets achieved
- Problems faced
- Areas I need to work on
- My thoughts