‘Time’ is arguably our most precious resource. It's important to use it wisely in order to cope effectively with the demands of university life. Research indicates that time management skills relate to academic success and satisfaction.
Managing our use of time is a skill that can also be learned and developed in order to promote balance in our lives. This brochure presents some ideas that may assist you to better manage your time. It is recommended that you experiment with these time- management ideas early in your university career in order to discover a style of time-management that best fits for you.
Establish a timetable: Schedule fixed commitments e.g. lectures, tutorials, sports training. Also schedule in due dates for assignments, projects etc.- it is useful to bring these dates forward by a few days to give you that extra time that can provide you with an opportunity to reflect and that can also compensate for the unexpected e.g. illnesses. Decide how you can best use the remaining time, recognising the importance of allocating time for recreation, socialising, family, self etc.
Plan your day: Begin each day with a list of things you both ‘have to’ and ‘want to’ accomplish. It is better to have more items on your list than less. A task will tend to expand with the time allocated for it. If you have one or two items on your list it is likely to take all day to do them. However if you have ten items on your list you may not complete all ten but you are likely to have completed seven or eight during the same allocation of time. A full day is better than an empty day.
Prioritise the list: This is about knowing what is important. Rate the tasks in order of priority, and tackle them in order of importance doing the most important first.
Organise your place of work: Ensure that your study area is a pleasant environment. Organise your books, papers etc. so that they are easily accessed, searching for things is a big time waster. Have a tidy desk.
Know your peak times: Decide when you have most energy as this corresponds with when you are most able to focus and concentrate. Schedule your most demanding work for these times and less demanding work for other times when energy is not as high.
Study strategy: Study for about an hour at a time then have a short break. This is an efficient study method because while you are taking a break the brain is still processing the information. Breaks between study blocks also ensure that your levels of concentration are more likely to be maintained.
Divide and conquer: A large assignment or project may appear overwhelming however it becomes manageable and achievable when broken down into several smaller parts. Complete one part at a time.
Allocate thinking and reflection time: After having completed a piece of writing it can be very useful to leave it for a day or two and then to return to it with new ideas and enthusiasm. Effective time management can allow you the space to do this.
Avoid procrastination: Develop strategies that help you resist being hindered by procrastination. Make decisions that are valuing of you and undermining of procrastination. It can be useful to start early in the day. Completing one small task soon after waking up is very empowering and can reduce the risk of procrastination. Reward yourself when you have successfully resisted procrastination and completed your tasks.
Learn how to deal with interruptions: Let the person interrupting you know that you are studying and that you really need to continue. Effective time-management allows you free time so learn how to politely and assertively invite people to phone or visit you during these specific, non-study times.
Take care of yourself: Ensure that your diet is nutritional, that you get sufficient sleep, that you get enough exercise and have time to ‘smell the roses’, plan an hour each day for ‘Me Time’.
Make time for a social life: Ensure that you schedule time for socialising, catching up with friends, seeing a movie, visiting family members etc. This contributes to achieving balance in your life which is beneficial to effective study.
Spirituality: Life is more than study and work. Give yourself time to explore the spiritual dimension and reflect on the amazing journey that is your life.
Keep the big picture in mind – value yourself and what you are wanting to achieve in your life.