Managing your time

As we approach the end of term we know that assessment deadlines are looming for many of you. So here are some time management tips from the Student Learning Advisory Service:

  • Get organised
    Get yourself a term planner or student diary and get into the habit of writing every commitment down, with times, locations and contact details. These should include university related commitments like deadlines, exam dates and study groups as well as medical appointments, work shifts and social engagements. Make sure that you carry it with you and keep it up to date. Even though your mobile may be able to hold all this, it may be a good idea – to get an overview of your workload – to use a wall planner anyway (free wall planners are available at the Student Learning Advisory Service).
  • Prioritise
    With so much to do, you will need to prioritise some tasks or commitments over others. It may be a good idea to spend a few minutes each Sunday sorting through the tasks for the week ahead. Group tasks into ‘needs to be done within 48 hours’, ‘needs to be done this week’, ‘longer term tasks’. Revise your lists daily and cross completed task off and add new ones.
  • Develop a work routine
    What works best for you in terms of time management? Does your head work better in the morning? Or late a night? Try to use your productive time for more demanding study related tasks and the less productive time for mundane tasks such as sorting, tidying or doing housework. Are there any tasks – such as shopping, looking after the kids – that can be shared or delegated?
  • Use time productively
    Try to make good use of the ‘in between’ times, eg travelling or waiting times. Carry some material around with you and use this time to go over notes or read. During gaps between lectures, use the time to check out or return books at the library or even to do some research.
  • Break tasks down
    When working on assignments it might help to break them down into manageable chunks and work on one of these at a time. Use the online Assignment Survival Kit to plan and complete your assignments.
  • Ask for help
    There is a lot of help available at the University. If you can’t locate sources in the library, ask the library assistants or the relevant subject librarian. If you can’t get to grips with an assignment ask the seminar leader or consult the Student Learning Advisory Service. If you are feeling very stressed about your studies, you might want to visit the Counselling Service in Keynes College or Gillingham Building in Medway. Should you feel unwell, have problems sleeping or eating properly, drop in at the University Nursing Service (Keynes EG3 ext: 3503) or visit the Medical Centre or contact your own doctor. If there is a problem, ask for help and it can be sorted out. If something is seriously affecting your studies, let your tutor know as soon as possible. Do not miss deadlines without telling your school what is wrong.
  • Take a break, enjoy yourself
    Make sure that you take enough breaks and plan in leisure time. Studying all day non-stop is rarely productive. Study in short blocks of time with brief breaks, then review what you have studied before moving on. Try to do some sort of regular physical exercise, even if it is only a 15-minute walk around campus. This gives your brain a chance to relax and get energised again. Plan in some regular study free time.
  • Keep a record and keep it tidy
    When researching and reading material for your assignments, keep a record of the sources that you have used. Make sure you have enough details to write up the full reference. Once you have taken the books back to the library or moved on online it may be very time consuming to retrieve the relevant bibliographical details (eg name, date, title, edition, volume, page number, publisher etc). Also, try to keep your notes in one place (have a folder for each module) and label them with a heading, keywords, the date and, of course, the source. Add new material or comment on your notes throughout the term. When it comes to exam preparation, revision planning will seem less daunting.
  • Learn to say NO
    Get those around you – family, friends and colleagues – to take you seriously as a student. You have the right to study and to have that respected. Learn to be assertive when people want to make you do things that interfere with your study time. Even those students who pretend to ‘only party’ will have to study sometimes if they want to pass and do well. As a full-time student you are expected to put in about 40 hours of work per week. So, learn to say NO to time stealers and learn to restrict time wasting activities (such as TV, facebook etc).
  • Plan ahead
    It might be a good idea to think about what else you could get out of your time at university. Personal development planning (PDP) helps you to take charge of your learning, recognise your strengths and weaknesses and plan for your short term and long term future. To find out more and to produce your very own e-portfolio.