With exams approaching, you should be thinking about how to get better at time management and organize your days so you can strike the right balance between home, work and university life. You should also try and eat some brain food – and no, we don’t mean crisps and energy drinks!
By taking the time to arrange your priorities, you can give yourself the best chance of staying on track and organized during the exam period, which in turn can help reduce stress levels, something that can be the difference between success and failure at university.
Take a look at our top seven time management tips, so that you can do your best at university and also find moments to relax and even earn some money on the side.
1) What do you have to do?
The first stage of improving your time management is to list absolutely everything that you have to do. This may sound obvious, but speaking from experience, most students tend to leave important tasks until the last minute, which can impact on the quality of their work and their overall grade.
Include any university deadlines as well as any shifts you work on the list, and make a note of how much time each priority will take out of your schedule.
2) Create a life schedule
Whether it’s a pin-up planner, a timetable or a calendar on your phone, find an organizing tool that works well for you and add your list of priorities to it. There are many time management apps that can help with this. Also, think about when you are most alert, so that you can plan your study periods around these times.
Find time for socializing, but also make sure that you get enough sleep. Most people need between 7 to 8 hours sleep every night to remain focused and alert during study periods.
3) Be flexible but realistic
Typically, allow around 8-10 hours a day for working, studying, socializing and anything else practical you need to do.
As a full-time student, you’re expected to dedicate 35 hours a week to university studies, including the time you spend in seminars and lectures. If you only spend 15 hours a week attending tutor-led learning, you should use the extra 20 hours for independent study.
It’s also important to remember that things often take longer than expected. So, allow a little extra time in case you spend longer on a task than you thought you would.
4) Allow time for planning to avoid repetition
Taking the time to research, plan and think about your work is crucial for good time management. Allow yourself the time to process new information and plan how you are going to use it, as this can help you to avoid having to re-read and repeat any research.
One way of effectively planning before researching is to make a list of everything you want to find out, so that you can make notes below each subheading as you go.
5) Avoid procrastination and distraction
One way to avoid procrastination is to think about the different places you have been when studying – where were you the most focused? Where were you most distracted? Is there anything you can do to make studying actually somewhat enjoyable?
Remember, what works for one person might not necessarily work for you. For some, studying with friends can limit their productivity. But for others, studying in groups can help to increase motivation and avoid procrastination.
6) Exercise to clear your head in between study sessions
Believe it or not, exercise works in the same way sleep does. It can focus your state of mind, helping you to clear your head and boost your brain power in between study sessions. If you’re new to exercise, aim to fit in a 10-minute run here and there, steadily increasing the amount you do as you go on.
7) Has your organization been effective?
Constantly reviewing and reassessing your schedule can help you to recognize whether you need to make any changes in order to help you complete any university tasks and also have time to relax and spend time with friends and family.