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Time Management at University

In this video, the student guides discuss their experiences of managing their time. They talk about the differences between managing their time at university compared to at school or college.
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Aarzu: Monitoring time is probably one of the most important skills you could learn at university, if not the most important. If you’re effective with your time, there is very little chance of feeling overwhelmed in your studies, or otherwise.
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George: You’ll find that time management is really important at university, because there’s a lot more independent learning to undertake. This is different from school or college, because there is going to be no homework timetable. No one’s going to be harassing you to complete your deadlines if you haven’t submitted it on time.
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Murtada: Time management is more important at university than it is at sixth form, because there’s less guidance and more freedom.
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Katie: There won’t be someone chasing you to attend classes, or complete your seminar preparation, or anything like that. I think it’s equally important to make time for socialising, spending time with friends, and hobbies, and things like that. But it just requires some planning, prioritising, and balance. When you do come to university, I think it’s easy to get swept up by the excitement of it all, and forget to make time for your studies. I think that’s what definitely happened to me.
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Aarzu: When I first came to uni, I completely underestimated the importance of managing my time. I was so used to doing my work at last minute at A-level, and even at GCSE, that I thought that technique would work at university.
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George: I found that my BTEC has really helped me with my time management and independent thinking, which is really helpful when you’re working at university. I have a calendar with all of my deadlines listed out, so I know when they’re due in. It’s better to undertake and do your deadlines sooner, rather than later, so they don’t all pile up.
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Aarzu: For me, calendars, to-do lists, diaries, and reminders have become my best friends.
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Georgia: Personally, I do to-do lists in order of the due dates. It’s a simple but effective way of organising and prioritising my work. If ever things are getting a bit too hectic with my study work, I just start afresh. I check my timetable, check my deadlines, and my calendar, and make a new to do list.
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Murtada: What’s worked for me is being able to do to-do lists, as they’ve allowed me to focus on my priorities and being a bit more flexible. The toughest challenge for me was balancing all my commitments near exam times.
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Katie: So one of the best things I can recommend for time management is having a planner. And I like to have a physical, paper copy, but you can use a digital calendar if that works better for you. I pencil in my timetabled seminars and lectures, as well as any other commitments, like meeting up with a friend, going for a walk, or doctor’s appointment, things like that. I think having a planner helps keep me on top of things.
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George: If you work too much, you’re going to be less efficient, so take breaks.
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Personally, I work 9:00 to 5:00 each day. I find this a really good way to structure my day. Most societies also run their events in the evenings,
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so by working 9:00 till 5:00, you’ll be free for that.
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Katie: I think if you just take small steps often, and break down the bigger tasks that you have, it can make things feel a little bit easier and less overwhelming, especially if you’ve got quite a big reading list.
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Murtada: It’s important to take regular breaks, and being able to do that while having enough time to study is one of the benefits of having great time management.
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Georgia: Give yourself time for me time, and for social time, and doing normal things. You have to make time for that, because you will burn out so quickly if you don’t.

In this video, the student guides discuss their experiences of managing their time. They talk about the differences between managing their time at university compared to at school or college.

Time management is how you consciously control your time doing different activities. Doing this well means you can work more productively and effectively.

The student guides in the video highlighted the importance of managing your time to keep on top of your deadlines and to enable you to still have time to take part in the many social activities at university.

Time Management for Undergraduates

When you become an undergraduate student, you may have more free time than you are used to. You will be expected to manage your time independently around your own studies. It will be important to ensure that you give yourself enough time to complete your work to the best possible standard. Here are five useful top tips to consider when organising your time at university:

1. Break tasks down

Katie acknowledges that it can be easy to feel overwhelmed by a big task, especially if it is left until the last minute. Breaking down bigger tasks into smaller more manageable chunks will help in managing the work you have.

You will look at ways to break tasks down in the next step.

2. Start early

It’s common to receive a recommended reading list for each course. These are the texts that will underpin a lot of the content for the module. Therefore, starting your core reading before the module begins will help you manage your time as your workload increases.

It’s common to hear people say: “I wish I had started this work earlier.” It’s less common to hear: “I really regret starting early on all the essential reading for the course.”

3. Make a To-Do List

It can be really easy to lose track of all of your social and work commitments. To-do lists are a great way to prioritise tasks that you currently have and they give you a clear picture of what needs to be completed. Similarly, a diary can be used to keep track of all your commitments.

Katie suggests you could use the two minute rule:

Avatar of Katie

“You can also use the two minute rule when writing your to-do lists. I find this really helpful… if there’s a task on your list that will only take two minutes, do it there and then.” – Katie

4. Keep a work-life balance

When studying at university, it’s important to balance your time between studying, social activities and rest. There will be lots of events and activities to take part in during your time at university. It’s important to manage your time to fit in what matters to you.
“There will be lots to do, but you don’t have to do it all.” – George

5. Speak to your tutor

If you’re struggling, you can always speak to your tutor to discuss the best way to manage your time. They’ll be able to help you create an action plan to get you back on track. Remember that you’re not alone and that your tutor is there to help you.
In the video, Murtada highlights that your tutor will be from your department so they will be aware of any academic issues you may face and can suggest tailored guidance to tackle them.

Things to Consider:

  • Have you had any similar experiences when managing your time?
  • How do you currently balance your time?
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