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Time management

Top Tips and Tools

Time management is an important skill to learn at university. Creating a plan, such as a regular study pattern, will help you manage the demands of university life and still have time to relax.

To manage your time you need to:

  • Identify tasks and commitments (work, study and personal commitments).
  • Divide work into smaller, manageable chunks.
  • Prioritise tasks – think about tasks in terms of daily, weekly, termly and one-off tasks.
  • Allocate time for each task/commitment (it is best to overestimate) and try to stick to a timetable.
  • Complete & Repeat – set deadlines and reward yourself when a task is completed. Then repeat the cycle.

For students’ tips, see:

Time management tools

There are a variety of tools you can use to organise your time. Some are listed below but you can find a more detailed explanation at Getting organised (University of Reading).

  • Academic Diary
  • Bullet journal (or 'Bujo') (have a look on Youtube/Instagram to find formats that might work for you)
  • Online calendar (e.g. Google calendar, mobile phone calendar)
  • Post-it notes. Write each task on a separate post-it note and display on a wall or cupboard. Perhaps colour co-ordinate based on urgency or module. Discard notes as tasks are completed.
  • Timetables. Suggestions are available from the Girton Study Skills Moodle page and Getting organised (University of Reading)
  • Time management apps. Suggestions are available from Lifehack and TopUniversities blog

Time management techniques

  • Eisenhower method – identify what is urgent/not urgent and important/not important, then place each task in the relevant quadrant. This helps to pinpoint which tasks to prioritise.
  • Shut up and write – (Pomodoro technique) – set up a “Shut up and write” group to help you complete specific tasks. Read Shut up and write by the Thesis Whisperer for more information.

Avoid procrastination

To manage your time effectively it is important to avoid distractions. Guidance on this can be found at Avoiding distractions and staying motivated (University of Reading).

Take breaks

No matter what work you're doing, it's very important to take breaks. You will work more effectively and the work you do will be of better quality if you go steadily and refresh your brain every now and again with different tasks. There are some suggestions below:

  • Move from your workspace and stretch your muscles
  • Have a short walk (maybe to the loo, or around the block, or to get yourself a drink)
  • Take some deep thoughtful breaths 
  • Listen to some cheerful and/or energetic music (and maybe even dance to it if you like)

If you find it hard to take breaks, maybe consider:

  • Setting an alarm on your phone to take a break
  • Scheduling breaks into your diary - if you plan for it, you're more likely to stick to it!
  • Download a break time reminder app, such as Stretchly. These pop up on your screen every time you're due for a break. 

Help within college

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