Everyone struggles with time management. It doesn't matter what you do or don't have in your schedule, it always feels like there's not enough time, and the temptation of procrastination is always looming. It's definitely not specific to spelling. So why am I writing about this on a spelling blog? It's around that time of year where students start school--some may have already started, many are about to start. Back in middle school, when I was eligible for the spelling bee, the hardest thing about starting school was managing my busy schedule while keeping up with the studying that I wanted to do for spelling. For many spellers, time management during the school year can be difficult. Many spellers are academically advanced, meaning that they have a lot of schoolwork and homework to get done. In addition to that, many of them have other extracurricular activities--sports, musical instruments, etc. Also, spellers who want to be highly ranked national contenders have to find time for dozens of hours of orthographic study every week. So that's why I'm writing this post--to share some of what I learned about managing a full schedule while having to study spelling in addition.
Prioritize. Which of your homework do you HAVE to get done today? What can you do later? Decide what's important so that you can spread out your work. This will help you maintain a steady schedule for your spelling studies (because your other work is spread out temporally) while keeping your other work stress-free instead of freaking out every day because you have so much stuff to do and you're not sure where to start. (Note: while you should prioritize your work, don't procrastinate. Just because that essay isn't due until Friday doesn't mean you should wait until 10 pm on Thursday to start it just so that you can do more spelling earlier in the week--you'll end up tired on Friday and you won't get the spelling you need to done on Thursday or Friday).
Make a schedule every day. Many spellers make calendars for their spelling so that they have a plan of what they want to have done when. I recommend doing just that, but on a smaller scale, and include your other obligations. At the start of every day, set aside time for spelling, but also set aside specific times when you will do the other things you need to do. Like prioritization, this helps you know where to start and what to do next instead of just having a muddled "list" in your mind. It also helps you set deadlines for yourself, which is great for productivity.
Alternate between spelling and other things. Sometimes in middle school, I would get home from school and try to do all of my spelling before starting homework, or do all of my homework before starting spelling. This always damaged my focus and productivity because I ended up trying to think about the same thing for hours on end. Instead, do some spelling, then some homework, then some spelling, and so on. Break up your time into hour-and-a-half long chunks so you'll get something substantial done without getting too tired of the task at hand to continue focusing. Then, once you finish that block of spelling time, do some schoolwork so that you get a break from spelling while still being productive and doing something you need to do.
Take (timed) breaks. No, I don't mean "do homework instead of spelling for a while," although that can be a good way to get your mind off spelling on a particularly busy day where real breaks are hardly an option. Take short breaks from working on things altogether--go outside or read a book for fifteen minutes. However, make sure to time these breaks so you don't find yourself still reading three hours later when you should have been studying.
Minimize distractions. Don't study with your phone right next to you. Need I say more?
Whatever your spelling goals are, following these guidelines will likely produce the results you seek. More importantly, they are good, disciplined study and work skills that will carry over into other parts of your life and create other successes too.