Skip to main content
main-content
Top

About this book

This pocket-sized guide provides students with practical advice and suggestions for successfully managing all aspects of their time while studying, from prioritising tasks to planning for individual assignments, group tasks and exams. Activities and self-assessments help students to identify how they learn best so that they can develop time management strategies that work for them.

Concise yet effective, this is an essential resource for any student looking to improve their time management skills. Ideal for self-study, it contains a section on troubleshooting for those looking for a quick-fix solution.

Table of Contents

Getting it all Done

Frontmatter

1. The essential toolkit

Abstract
The essentials of time management are not complicated — the tricky part is working out a system that works for you. Here they are:
  • Writing TO DO lists
  • Using a diary
  • Getting organised
Kate Williams, Michelle Reid

2. Time planning your week

Abstract
‘Full time’ university programmes are usually drawn up on the assumption that students are ‘full time’. This is now often not the case. For many — possibly most — ‘full time’ students, their weekly schedule reflects a whole range of other roles and commitments — as employee, parent, sports player, carer — of which being a ‘student’ is only one, an additional one that has to be prioritised because you have chosen to do it.
Kate Williams, Michelle Reid

3. Know yourself

Abstract
At home? In your room? In the library? In a café? Does background noise, music or voices help you or distract you? Or is it different places at different times?
Kate Williams, Michelle Reid

4. What do I do first? Prioritising

Abstract
How do you prioritise? If it was easy, it wouldn’t be the problem that many people find it. Yes, you want to go out, but you have that essay to do. What you should do is … well … obvious, but it usually isn’t that simple. Choices are more complex:
  • Work on the essay … but it’s your friend or partner’s birthday?
  • Do your part of the group presentation for tomorrow (non-assessed), or get on with the research for your report?
  • Spend time with your child and their homework, or do your own homework?
  • Use the time you’d earmarked for study, or agree to the extra hours you’ve been asked to work?
Kate Williams, Michelle Reid

5. Studying smarter

Abstract
The next four pages offer some study advice to counteract some of the time-wasters students report when they sit down to study. To help you focus, here’s a task: pick ONE suggestion you might try from each page.
Kate Williams, Michelle Reid

6. Making the most of university

Abstract
It is a big decision to come to university — a big time commitment, a big financial commitment. It is also a huge opportunity to do much more than focus exclusively on your studies. Universities offer the opportunity to meet people you would never meet anywhere else (so get to know people from other cultures) and to do things you have never done before (so find out about clubs and networks and join in). The key message here is to get involved in different student groupings, whether a club or campaign — and find the time to develop this aspect of your life as a student.
Kate Williams, Michelle Reid

Getting Strategic About Time …

Frontmatter

7. Asking strategic questions

Abstract
Six strategic questions are often used to work out how to start tackling a task, whether it’s planning a project or planning your studies.
Kate Williams, Michelle Reid

8. Drawing up an action plan

Abstract
And finally, and most important of all, time and timing: Is anything missing? If you can’t find these details in your course documentation, check again. If there really are gaps in the information — ask! You’ll be doing everyone a favour.
Kate Williams, Michelle Reid

Planning the Term or Semester

Frontmatter

9. Deadlines and timelines

Abstract
On the next page is a blank timeline showing the weeks of a semester and a column for each course or module to log your deadlines. You may need to adapt it to the length of your term or semester, but you get the idea. A timeline will enable you to see how all your modules fit together and when the deadlines are. Once you can see the whole picture you can work out what you have to do to meet each deadline.
Kate Williams, Michelle Reid

10. Planning an individual assignment/essay

Abstract
Here we focus on the time planning for the individual assignment (worth 30%) in module 1 on page 50. While it is not worth the most in % marks (the exam is worth more), it comes at a busy time of the semester, and could get squeezed by deadlines in other modules — the pressure of the group report in module 2 (20%) and the research project proposal (100%) in module 3.
Kate Williams, Michelle Reid

11. Planning a group assignment

Abstract
Any module that involves groupwork needs very careful time planning right from the start. Groupwork requires everyone to commit to the work and put effort into making the group work well. You have to pace the work, allocate tasks between you and work to specific deadlines to get work done between group meetings. Of course, when lots of people are involved it never goes this smoothly, so keeping in touch regularly and dealing with any disagreements as they arise is important. Not everyone in your group will be doing the same modules as you; your pressure points will be different, so a last-minute rush is not an option.
Kate Williams, Michelle Reid

12. Planning a research project

Abstract
This module is really quite different to the other two, more likely to be found in third-year undergraduate or Masters’ courses. The dissertation itself will be the focus of the following semester (and most likely through the summer in the case of a Masters’ course).
Kate Williams, Michelle Reid

13. Planning ahead for exams

Abstract
When you have worked out the time planning for the coursework deadlines, look at when you will find time to prepare for exams.
Kate Williams, Michelle Reid

14. Time planning for a longer semester

Abstract
In countries with longer semesters, like the United States, the pattern of assessment may be more predictable. That does not make it less stressful — far from it, the concentration of high-value assessments at the end of each course makes the last weeks exceptionally intense for students, where time management is crucial.
Kate Williams, Michelle Reid

15. Completing your timeline

Abstract
You may already have drawn your own timeline based on the 12-week semester timeline on p. 48 and logged your deadlines. If not, now’s the time to do it!
Kate Williams, Michelle Reid

Troubleshooting

Frontmatter

16. What kind of planner are you?

Abstract
Timetables and TO DO lists don’t work for everyone — this is not surprising given that we don’t all learn or think in the same way. So suit your planning methods to your own style.
Kate Williams, Michelle Reid

17. How time flies!

Abstract
‘Full time’ undergraduate study is regarded by universities as the equivalent of a ‘full time’ job, about 35 to 37 hours a week on average, including all your lectures, seminars, lab time, fieldwork, placements, private study. Some weeks it will be less, and in other weeks you may need to put in more hours. On a postgraduate course you are likely to spend more hours a week studying to keep up with the intensity of the work.
Kate Williams, Michelle Reid

18. Too little time?

Abstract
Some university courses, such as taught Masters’ and some professional courses, have a lot of teaching time. When this is combined with paid work, family and other commitments, it can seem as though there is no time to fit in any additional study.
Kate Williams, Michelle Reid

19. Too much time?

Abstract
Some university courses do not have a lot of teaching time — especially in the final undergraduate year or research postgraduate courses — leaving you to organise your own time for independent study. It can leave your working week timetable looking very empty:
Kate Williams, Michelle Reid

20. Missed deadlines and need to catch up?

Abstract
First of all, don’t panic. Most situations are salvageable if you take action, get help, and work steadily towards catching up.
Kate Williams, Michelle Reid

21. Can’t get started?

Abstract
Everyone puts off getting started on some things. These then loom in your head as a big cloud that follows you around until you have done them and you can tick them off your TO DO list. And then, magically, they go away …
Kate Williams, Michelle Reid

22. Procrastination?

Abstract
Procrastination works a little differently from ‘can’t get started’. It is when putting things off becomes a set of habits that stops you getting down to work: first I do my email, then I have a cup of coffee, then I phone then I sit down and tidy my papers … And by then you have lost your working slot.
Kate Williams, Michelle Reid

23. It has to be perfect?

Abstract
Trying to polish a piece of work to absolute perfection can be time and energy sapping. The search for unattainable perfection could mean missing deadlines, handing in work late, and losing marks.
Kate Williams, Michelle Reid

24. Time to think?

Abstract
Thinking time counts as studying time, and it can be as — if not more — valuable than spending time reading. It is worth investing time into really understanding something because this will save time later — you will know how to use the material effectively and will be able to write concisely about it.
Kate Williams, Michelle Reid

25. Groupwork is such a time-waster …

Abstract
Working in a group can be the best of times, when everyone works together to get the work done. It can also be the worst of times, when people don’t do their share, don’t even turn up to meetings, and other group members end up doing the work because their mark is dependent on the outcome.
Kate Williams, Michelle Reid

26. Time to prepare for exams?

Abstract
Exams are all about performance within time limits. Many people find them scary; others actually quite like them. And you can prepare: approach exams in a strategic way, concentrate on understanding or knowing key points and practise working effectively within time limits.
Kate Williams, Michelle Reid

27. Time for all questions in the exam?

Abstract
Arrive in good time but not so early you have to listen to other people getting anxious.
Kate Williams, Michelle Reid

What Next …?

28. Reviewing the term/semester

Abstract
So, how was it? Looking back at the last semester or term, how well did your time management go?
Kate Williams, Michelle Reid

29. Life after university

Abstract
Whatever this holds, it will be different.
Kate Williams, Michelle Reid
Additional information