Time management is a very important skill which will help you to organise your studies, meet deadlines for assignments and plan revision for your exams. It's also just as important in working life, and is a skill that everyone can 'top up' from time to time.
Give yourself the best start by setting time aside at the beginning of a year or the term, and map out the different key dates you need to work around:
- assignment deadlines and exam dates
- any dentist or doctors appointments
- and don't forget birthdays, holidays and social events you are looking forward to
When the basic dates are in, you can see the gaps and have a better idea of the blocks of time that are available to you. Tasks can sometimes seem too big to tackle easily, e.g. 'final exam revision'. Breaking these down into smaller chunks can make it feel easier to get them started, and also allows you to feel achievement when you've completed a chunk.
Try placing one of the smaller chunks of a big task in your calendar, e.g. 'revise module 2 by this date'. If you start working with a weekly plan, you can not only balance your different homework, essay or revision tasks, but also ensure to leave proper gaps for other areas of your life, like relaxation/ exercise, part-time jobs, or your favourite tv show.
Planning study sessions - some top tips
- What distracts you? If it's alerts on your phone, switch it off or get a friend to look after it whilst you focus on a task
- Tidy desk = tidy mind. Find a space where you can just focus on the tasks, clear of other mess
- How long can you concentrate for? Break your day or week into blocks of time that suit your concentration level e.g. 30 minutes working, with 5 minute break to walk about and wake up
- Plan in proper breaks, and ensure you keep to a regular sleep pattern
- Keep your brain active by switching between tasks you find challenging, interesting or more tedious
- Reward yourself - if you're doing your least favourite task, ensure you have a reward waiting for you when you finish. What would motivate you - chocolate? 30 mins of gaming?
Your daily ‘to do’ list
Some people find a daily 'to do' list helps them feel good about their achievements at the end of the day. You can jot down the tasks for the day, then tick/ cross out/ highlight what you have done. Get even more creative to motivate yourself - the list could be on a whiteboard or poster on your wall, or in an app where you can rearrange the priority and order of tasks during the day. Some apps even make this into a game, giving you points for each task completed.
Think about a task on your list - is it...
- urgent - you have to do it now/ to a short deadline
- important - a long task, or you have to get it exactly right
- both urgent and important - put these at the top of your list
- a timewaster task - e.g. washing up or tidying up your revision notes - you have to do them, but don't want to lose too much of your day to them
If you start to think about tasks you complete in this way, you could realise that you spend too much time on the timewasters, or end up rushing some of the bigger important tasks.
Lastly, always speak to your tutors and other students. Your class mates may have different styles of working that could suit you too. A study group where you talk a topic through in a cafe could be just as helpful as many more hours spent trying to learn it on your own.