When studying, it’s likely that you’ll be required to work independently quite frequently, meaning you will need to learn how to manage your workload effectively to ensure that you meet all of your deadlines.
By taking the time to arrange your priorities, you can give yourself the best chance of staying on track and organised, which will help reduce stress levels - something that can be the difference between success and failure.
Here are seven ways of getting to grips with time management.
1. Organise your diary
Depending on how good your ability to think ahead is, try planning your week, month, or entire semester. Consider exam dates, assignment dates and lectures, as well as any paid work and extracurricular activities you do. Don’t forget to schedule in some social and free time. Be realistic and thorough but remember: once it’s in your diary, keep to it!
2. Break down your workload into realistic sections
Note down the work you need to do and when it’s due, then break down assignments into manageable sections and plan to achieve a specific goal in each session. This may take some time, but once you know what you need to achieve you can then follow through and start achieving those goals.
3. Prioritise effectively
Once you have completed your ‘to do list’, it will be easy to prioritise which tasks are the most important, or which are due the soonest. This means you’ll get tasks done in an appropriate order, fitting in with your deadlines.
4. Stop procrastinating
If you’re one of those people who finds anything to do rather than study, you are not alone. Perhaps you suddenly find tidying your bedroom really interesting, or maybe you choose to catch up on the latest episodes of your favourite show. Whatever your procrastination method, you need to recognise it in order to stop. Try turning distractions into rewards (see below).
5. Keep your workspace tidy
Organising your desk should not eat away at your study time. Instead, tidy your work area at the end of each day, so that when you come to use it next, you won’t have to spend time cleaning. Cluttered workspaces can make it difficult to concentrate. Keeping notes tidy will also help next time you need to refer back to them.
6. Reward yourself
Offering yourself small incentives when you reach certain goals is a good way of getting work done, for example, ‘when I finish the research for this assignment, I will go out for lunch’. Things you procrastinate over, such a TV programmes, can also act as rewards, e.g. ‘I will watch one episode for every 500 words I write’. This method should keep you motivated and make you feel as though you are in control.
7. Learn to relax
Stress can cause you to become anxious, meaning that you take longer to achieve the goals you have set yourself. Whatever your preferred way to relax is, make sure you schedule this into your timetable; there’s no need to feel guilty about winding down if you’ve earned it. Relaxing will help clear your mind ready for your next study session, making you more productive in the long run.