You’ve survived the first half of semester, now it’s time to knuckle down and make a plan for major assignments and end-of-semester exams. Time management works differently for everyone, but giving some structure to your days, weeks and semesters can really help you plan effectively, reduce procrastination, find time to get those tasks done and do the things you enjoy.

Short term and long term

Different types of study plans can be helpful. A long term plan can schedule in your assignment due dates, tests and exams, lectures and tutorials. Each day is different at university, unlike a school or work environment, so it’s a good idea to have the essentials in a calendar – either on your phone, computer or diary. A short term plan can be made week-to-week, and include specific tasks and when you plan to do them. See the links below for some examples.

Time management isn’t only about planning work and study. You should also make time for socialising, exercising, relaxing, hobbies and creative pursuits. Be sure to factor in things like travel time, chores or errands, and free ‘catch-up’ hours (because things don’t always go to plan, and that’s okay!)

Macro to micro

Break things down into manageable tasks. For example, if your to-do list just says ‘Essay’, the task can feel overwhelming and too time-consuming. You might feel like you don’t have time to tackle it now, so you leave it for later (aka procrastinate), when you think you’ll feel like studying or have more time. Try this: start with ‘Essay’ (macro task) and divide the task into the things you need to do to get it done (micro tasks). It might look something like this:

  1. Decide on topic.
  2. Brainstorm ideas.
  3. Search Library catalogue and databases; keep a record of relevant articles, books, other sources.
  4. Read sources; take notes and make observations.
  5. Write a thesis statement and essay plan.
  6. Draft essay paragraphs according to plan, link to thesis statement.
  7. Final draft, proofreading, submission.

You can include the day and time period for completing each task.

Breaking a large task down into smaller tasks gives you a step-by-step guide, a road map for getting things done. Devoting 30-60 minutes on one step can feel much more manageable than tackling a huge task all at once. It’s also more realistic.

Where do I start?

We’ve got the tools to help! Take a look at Research and Learning Online for sample planners to help you plan your week and semester.

Struggling to stay on track or need help with planning and study skills? Each  library has a Research & Learning point staffed by an expert team of librarians and learning skills advisers.

Good luck and get planning!


Writer Katherine Brabon is a Learning Skills Adviser at the Law Library