As an adult with responsibility for setting your own study time, it is imperative to have a healthy approach to time management. This does not mean that you have to structure your study time in a way that is prescriptive, but rather that you can use your own strengths and weaknesses to maximise your return on the hours put in. Good time management will lead to less anxiety and better work. But how to go about it?

Schedule it

There are some things that you cannot get past. Like the timing of lectures and tutorials and submission deadlines; you might also have non-university priorities like a job or children. Factor these into a working calendar and then build your schedule around these fixed points. Can you bring a deadline forward in order to relieve pressure? Can you structure study time around the lectures and tutorials that take advantage of your presence on campus? If you travel by train, you can utilise that time for study as well. You’ll also want to think about your own preferences. Are you a morning person? Schedule study in the morning. More of a night owl? Schedule study time in the evening.

Remember that study can be intense and you can only study effectively on one topic for about two hours. Think about breaking your day up into parcels of study time so that you can make the most of that time without getting stressed or worn out. Your calendar is a continual work-in-progress; schedule leisure activities as they arise – dinners, parties, meetings, family obligations, etc – and fill in your study time around these. Most important is to find a work/life balance that works for you.

Procrastin-action

One of the fundamental enemies of good time management is procrastination – the thief of time! We are all prone to procrastinate, but there are measures you can put in place that will help. On one hand, procrastination does have it uses – you may not be ready to start yet. On the other hand, realise that paralysis is not helpful. Utilise rewards to defeat procrastination. If a ‘procrastin-action’ is appealing as a way to avoid study, use that action as a reward for doing study. Nice day for a bike ride? Nice day for a bike ride after you have written 500 words.

You will discover that good time management is crucial to enjoying your time at university, and, indeed, your work/life in general. As you move forward, spend some time on refining your approaches to time management.

If you want a practical guide to building your calendar, Research and Learning Online can help; check out the quick study guide to managing your time.

Writers Steve Joyce (Learning Skills Adviser) and Ines Sincock (Librarian) are based at the Matheson Library.