Managing your time at university is a very important skill and one that many students struggle with. As a university student, lots of your learning will be through independent studying and this will require you to manage your own study time effectively.
Planning how to spend your time will help you to enjoy learning, and to cope better at difficult times. It is also an important skill for life after university.
Plan ahead and timekeeping tips
Allocate some time every week to monitor your workload and plan for what you need to do next. Having a system (e.g. diary on your phone, reminders or apps) to keep everything under control will enable you to keep track of coursework deadlines, revision priorities and additional reading you need to do.
Once you know what your commitments are likely to be for the next few months, it might be useful to enter these on a plan or calendar. There are several advantages to using a wall chart for this activity:
- You can see the whole semester ahead of you;
- You can see where deadlines fall in relationship to each other;
- You can quickly remind yourself of the full range of your activities.
While a wall chart is very effective for this kind of plan, you should use whatever method you’re most comfortable with. If you already have plans in a calendar or diary, use these in the same way.
You want to end up with something that lets you quickly refresh and review your plans. Experiment to find what works best for you.
Whenever something new is added to your plan, make sure you consider your other tasks so that nothing falls by the wayside.
The time spent on different tasks will vary depending on the specific course, but you should think of a full-time university course as equivalent to a full-time job. You will need to manage all of your academic activities – independent study, lectures, seminars, tutorials, lab work, and anything else.
Find out what each aspect of your course contributes towards your final grade. When you know how important a piece of work is, you’ll know how much time you’re expected to devote to it.
Things can take longer than you think
It’ll help you if you are generous in your time allocation. It’s better to find that you’ve allowed more time than you needed than to end up with no time left at all!
While your academic work should be the main focus of your time at Imperial, you shouldn't feel that you have to study all the time. Use the study time you’ve allocated effectively and you won't need to feel guilty when you do something else at other times.
The following apps can be useful tools to help you organise your time, including individual and group projects:
You may be familiar with websites and apps designed to help you plan your time and keep on top of your to-do list. But we can all still get distracted. There are an increasing number of apps and sites designed to prevent you from caving in to distractions.
Perhaps you’d like to turn your distraction into something positive? The Forest app gamifies productivity – once you install the app, you can grow a tree for a set amount of time. Failure to stay focused will cause the tree to die. You can even use coins you earn in the app to help plant real trees across the world!