Whether you started University this year or you’re only seven months away from your final exams, good time management skills are essential for academic success and a (relatively!) stress-free student life. So, here are some of my tips on how I plan my time and prepare for the unforeseen!
Organise as you go!
There’s nothing worse than getting to revision time and finding you have a pile of notes on your desk, but no idea which lectures or even modules they correspond to. Try to keep on top of things by organising your notes and deadlines as you go, so you don’t lose time trying to find the vital information when you need it.
If you want to go paperless, have a look at some productivity apps! There are many free project management tools online that you can use to organise your calendar, create To Do lists and even store your notes!
These are some of my favourite productivity tools:
- Evernote (This note-taking app allows you to share notes with others and file them using tags and notebooks)
- Todoist (You can use it to create To Do lists, add deadlines onto your calendar and tick tasks off as you go)
- Dropbox (This one is essential for doing a degree! It offers cloud storage and file synchronisation, so that you can work on your essays and access your files from anywhere. Also, it prevents you from losing your work when your laptop crashes because you spilled a cup of tea on it!)
There are countless other productivity apps on the Internet, so feel free to look around and find one that suits you!
For those of you who prefer not to rely on technology to organise your life, try to create a filing system where all your notes are separated and organised chronologically. Use stickers, post-it notes and coloured papers to quickly see where everything goes. Plus, this will give you a good excuse to go shopping for stationery!
Know when your deadlines are!
It’s very easy to lose track of when you have work due in. So why not put a wall planner above your desk at the beginning of the semester and mark all your deadlines on it? All the important dates should be specified in your module handbooks, and you can get free wall planners from us or from the Atrium. They also contain the timetable of our workshops, so come and grab one before they’re all gone!
Marking your deadlines and exam dates on a calendar will make it easier for you to see when you’re going to be very busy – so make sure to plan ahead and come up with a clear strategy on how to complete your assignments. On the bright side, this will also allow you to spot some quiet days when you can visit your friends or travel around the country.
It’s possible to waste a lot of time repeating tasks because you didn’t do them right the first time! Make sure you make clear, legible notes during your lectures so you don’t have to spend ages before exams trying to work out what you wrote. Or worse, not being able to use them at all because your handwriting is that bad!
Similarly, when you’re reading for assignments, make notes of the books/articles you’re using and the page numbers you’re taking the information from (this helps you to avoid plagiarising by accident). It’s so annoying to have the perfect quote for your essay, but not be able to use it because you can’t remember where it came from!
For extra tips on note-taking, check out our online resource.
Be prepared for the busy times!
If you have an especially busy week coming up, perhaps because of deadlines, extra seminars or just a full social calendar, prepare for it in advance! Cook a big batch of food and freeze it, so you always have something to eat when you get home.
Use downtime effectively! For instance, you can listen to your lecture podcasts while on the bus or walking to University.
Finally, make sure you get enough sleep! It might seem like a good idea to pull consecutive all-nighters, but this will make it harder for you to focus and everything will take you a lot longer.
It may seem obvious, but procrastination is the enemy of effective time management! If you know you’re prone to procrastination, why not study in the Library or another University building? A bit of peer pressure might help you to focus on your work and avoid spending ages on social media.
Also, be realistic about what you can achieve each day and don’t set too many goals because you’ll just give up! Break down big assignments into smaller tasks so you can tick things off your To Do list and get a sense of achievement.
Even when things seem to get out of hand, don’t feel discouraged! Try to get back on track and make time management a habit! As the famous athlete Jim Ryun said: ‘Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.’
By Joe from the Student Team