Good time management and organisation can help you succeed at university for it can be a difficult challenge to juggle your studies with paid work, family and social commitments. While you will be given a timetable of lectures, seminars and deadlines for your assignments, you will also be expected to study independently for a further 20 to 30 hours per week. It will help to focus on when to study, what to study and how to study. Try making a weekly timetable and one for each semester so that you can plan ahead and prioritise your tasks. Tip: read or write for just half an hour a day – every day!
Look at these Student responses to managing your time and
organisation, why it works for them and what they obtained from it...
At school or college your time and timetables are managed by
your tutor. At university this is your responsibility.
Typically you will have 10-15 hours set study times per week –
but you are supposed to be studying for about 35 hours each
and every week –
not just the week before you are handing in your assignments.
Your studies also have to be combined with family, work
and social life, so planning and prioritising are essential for
you to feel in control - at all levels of study including
those doing third year dissertations and Masters and
To get the most from your time at university you will have to
learn to plan when, where and how to study…
Planning and prioritising
WHEN to study
Allocate a definite number of hours for studying
- Set yourself compulsory hours and stick to them.
- When not in class, allocate specific time to work at home – and in the university library.
- Remember – at least half an hour a day – every day makes a difference.
Devise a weekly and semester timetable
- There are 24 hours in a day and seven days in a week. Plan when you will work, sleep, socialise and clean… Put in when you are in class – and when you will be reading, talking and writing about your assignments.
- Devising a weekly timetable which includes lectures, seminars, workshops and all your other activities will give you an overview of what you have to do and help you prioritise your tasks.
- A term timetable will also highlight key events like deadlines for coursework, projects and exams.
- There are several ways of doing this: making a timetable or wall chart on paper; keeping a diary, storing a timetable on your computer/laptop/mobile or smartphone.
WHERE to study
Always try to study in a quiet environment.
- At home, try to have a definite place reserved for study where you will not be distracted by TV and family.
- Allocate a space to organise books, research articles, websites, notes and organise your files and folders.
- Organisation will help you to avoid wasting time looking for important and relevant information so keep your folders up-to-date on your laptop/computer/filing system.
- Leaving your work out, notes & assignment questions pinned to the wall and books ready to be read – means no time wasted getting stuff out and packing it all away again – and will help you to feel like a student.
- In the library try different spaces for different subjects – and for different stages in your work
Try the quiet study space for reading, the group space for discussing ideas with friends – and experiment with quiet or buzzy spaces when writing up your thoughts
- Avoid always sitting in the group study areas where other students are chatting and working on group projects although there will of course be times when you want to have discussions and share ideas with other students.
HOW to study
Be active and interactive – want to do well – engage with your subjects – be interested or act like you are – think, read, talk and write with a sense of wanting to learn – and having something to say – goal set before every study act – reflect afterwards.
Set yourself definite targets
* Know what you are doing and why: what assignment are you reading for? Which bit of an assignment will a particular lecture or seminar help you with?
* Be realistic and reward yourself when you meet your targets.
* Engage actively and interactively with what you are doing
* If you lose concentration – make the task more interesting, meaningful – or more difficult: make notes only in pictures – that will wake you up!
* Take regular breaks: work for an hour – have a glass of water; some students need a break every 40 minutes; others every couple of hours.
Reflect on your learning
- Always reflect on what you have done – why you did it – and what you have learned. Making your learning conscious increases the quantity and quality of your learning.
- Remember that you that need thinking time in order to process all the information/theories/concepts with which you are presented.
- Build a pattern note of each of your modules – keep a reading dossier – keep a learning journal.
- Take time to reflect on your learning and study patterns.
- Discuss your reading, thinking and ideas with other students.
Information, further research and reflection
|Check out this wonderful Pinterest site...|
We have collected some websites how to manage your time and prioritise your tasks. I know what you’re thinking: ‘I don’t have time to study – let alone to waste time on thinking about time!’ But a little effort learning how to manage your time will help you all the way through life – not just your studies. Have a look at some of these resources – put some of the strategies into practice and see how they work for you. Why don’t you tweet, FaceBook or blog about what works and why?
Bradford’s excellent printable guide to student time management with case studies, exercises, also covers procrastination and distraction
This is Reading University’s site on becoming a student:
Reading University have also put together some excellent resources on managing your time:
http://www.reading.ac.uk/internal/studyadvice/Studyresources/sta-managing.aspx– (The website is on the move at the moment but if you Google search < Reading University + students + time management> you will find some excellent material.)
Napier’s quick and easy interactive exercises:
Tips on making and using ‘to-do lists’
Lifehacker is a site full of life and productivity tips:
Developed by the University of Minnesota:
Assignment Calculators implemented across the country