“Effective” does not mean “best” and vice versa. An effective student is one who can manage time, submit assignments on time, and actually learn the information, not just regurgitate it on a discussion board. On that, here are a few tactics that I employ.

Prologue, Pray

This one is hardest for me. I am that apostle who in the garden chose to sleep rather than pray. I think about and talk to God often, but I have a habit of individuality when it comes to my studies, cutting God out of the picture. I’ll tell you, there is a serious difference in my work when I don’t include God. Before you start your school work, say a prayer. It doesn’t have to be an exhortation or anything lengthy. Just make a quick devotion of your work and study to God.

First, Phil Collins

If you aren’t listening to In the Air Tonight before you study, do it. You have to be excited about what you are reading, writing, and studying. Joking aside, it helps. Sometimes you will need to focus, other times you will need intensity, while still, you might want to relax. Music helps. Other nights it’s a full playlist of classical like Ravel’s Bolero or Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Orchestra, or a shorter piece Cantique from Jean de Racine. Whatever your style is, be it Skrillex or Mozart, get some music to get in the right mood with.

Second, Make Making Time a Priority

My professional life has been engulfed in the colloquialism “Time is money, and money is time.” Really, this is so true. Every second you have is an asset, a gift. If you were given a hundred dollar bill for every hour in your day, right in your pocket, you wouldn’t hesitate to put it in its rightful spot. That’s how I treat my time: like it’s that valuable, not just to others but to me especially.

Each week I follow a basic routine:

• Review my workload and assignment due dates.
• Review other commitments.
• Determine the time I need for each task.
• Create priorities.
• Determine what tasks I can fit in where.
• Execute.

It’s basic project management, think to yourself: “where, when and how do I need to spend my money?” (time in this case). It’s especially easy in college because you have an accurate schedule and from there you can determine how much time each assignment takes up. I don’t sit and calculate it, but I give myself about 10-30% extra time on each of these as a buffer. Try it out.

Third, Treat Your Time as an Art

Arts aren’t just paint, music, and sculpting. Art is creation. One reason every child loves markers and crayons and making noise is that they are natural imitators of God in whose image they are created. In effect, we are natural creators and generously enjoy it in all its forms; we take pleasure in creativity. It’s no different with time. If you want it, make it. There is no such thing as “not having time” for this or that, there is only time that is already filled. At that point, reevaluate your creations and recreations. Recreation is the use of that created time. Enjoy it, make it useful, and protect it – it’s the only resource that won’t be destroyed, but can be misused.

Fourth, Study and Perform Like You Mean It

This is a point I tried to hammer in Is It Anyone’s Guess? Dr. Toolin taught me something others tried to teach me for years, I just needed to hear it the right way: “Write as if you are being published.” That says it all. Good writing is the kind of writing that someone can sell. Sale worthy writing includes three elements:

  1. Memorable
  2. Appetizing
  3. Informational

Even if it is opinion, include these three and it will have the potential to be many times more reader friendly.

Epilogue, Attitude

I’d include something to the tune of “study hard” but studying is a cinch when you love what you are studying. It becomes less of a task and more of a hobby. Have a good attitude about your studying, follow these tips, and you will find yourself having more time for other things, a sense of accomplishment, and ownership for your work.


The opinions expressed by the DPS blog authors and those providing comments are theirs alone; they are not necessarily the expressions or beliefs of either the Dead Philosophers Society or Holy Apostles College & Seminary.