Student time management tips
We get it – university life is busy. There’s lots to manage: lectures, social activities, clubs and societies, friends, assignments, exams (stress!), washing clothes, cooking food, creating fancy dress outfits (obligatory)…and generally learning how to live independently. That’s why effective time management is such an important skill to master. It’ll not only help while at university, but also post-uni when transitioning into the real world (the joys of adulthood!) With that said, we’ll get straight to our time management tips:
1. Find your optimal learning time
Which of the following best describes you?
a) ‘I work best first thing in the morning’
b) ‘Working late into the night is my most productive time’
c) ‘I prefer to work in the daytime – not too early, not too late’
Morning person, night owl or somewhere in-between, working out when you’re most productive is half the battle. Even with the best of intentions, forcing yourself into a routine that doesn’t work for you is more likely to result in time spent unproductively.
2. Look after yourself
Yeah, yeah – we know you’ve probably heard it all before, but it’s common knowledge that getting enough sleep, eating well and staying active play an important role in how well us humans function. How can you expect to be a productive and happy individual if you’re neglecting yourself? It’s a no-brainer.
3. Prepare the night before
A little prep the night before goes a long way. You start the day knowing exactly what you’ve got to do – good for your mindset while also preventing faffing and procrastination. Prep might include:
- Choosing and putting out your clothes
- Prepping breakfast and lunch (more likely to save you spending when out and about, too)
- Planning your route to university and looking at bus/train times
- Writing down the tasks you need to complete (more on that below)
- Accessing lecture notes
4. Switch off distractions and ‘Stay Focused’
In the digital-obsessed-everything-now world in which we live, it’s all too easy to find yourself distracted. In fact, you can’t even remember what you originally set out to do, let alone work out how you managed to navigate every social media site, update statuses on said sites, browse your favourite online shops (making impulse purchases) and scroll through amusing clips on Twitter (which you’ve now also distracted your friends with). The problem? You haven’t actually done any work – oops. ‘Stay Focused’ is a Google Chrome Tool which allows you to limit distractions, enabling you to focus on what’s important – clever stuff. Turning your phone to ‘flight mode’ is also a good trick.
5. Realistic planning and prioritisation
Adopting a planned, methodical approach will keep you in control of your work instead of the other way round.
- Be realistic with your time – it’s better to overestimate how long a task will take rather than underestimate
- Prioritise tasks according to deadlines and work backwards
- Break large tasks into smaller, manageable chunks. There are some great, free project management tools out there (such as Trello) where you can organise and manage tasks in a way to suit you. Alternatively, revert to good ole fashioned pen and paper. Whatever works best. If you find yourself continuously avoiding a certain task, there’s usually a reason behind it. Don’t forget to ask your university for help if you need it – you know the saying – ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’.
- Utilise a planner or calendar – an effective way to visualise what you’ve got to do by day/week/month. You’ll also get a feel for how you’re dividing your time and whether you’re giving yourself enough free time. Colour coding, anyone?
- Use a checklist – a great way to stay on-track and extremely satisfying when you tick tasks off!
6. Don’t be afraid to say ‘no’ (‘yes’ is okay too, in moderation!)
Being a student is a real test of willpower. You’ll always have temptations trying to lure you in…
Example: Your housemate is trying to persuade you to go out. It’s going to be an amazing night – best one since you’ve been at uni, so you’re told. The only teeny-weeny problem is you’ve got work to do. It’s Tuesday now, the assignment is due on Thursday and you’ve still got the majority to write. Meanwhile, your housemate doesn’t have a deadline looming (but you know if they did they’d be locked away in their room, working hard). At testing times, it’s worth doing a quick analysis and simply asking yourself – is it worth it? If it isn’t, don’t be afraid to say ‘no’ (and stick to it!).
Equally, a break away from the screen/books might freshen your perspective and spark productivity. Part of time management is finding your yes/no balance.
7. Use your commute productively
Think what you could achieve in the time it takes you to get to and from university.
- Instead of listening to music, listen to a Podcast related to your studies
- Pre-record yourself talking through your lecture notes and listen back to them on your phone as a revision technique
- Read lecture notes, books and other course materials
- Chat about course topics with friends
8. Review what you’ve achieved and reward yourself
It’s easy to get obsessed with what needs doing and ignore what’s been achieved. Reflecting on progress proves how far you’ve come and this alone is likely to spur you on and keep your productivity going. Rewarding yourself is another effective way to stay focused – give yourself milestones to work to and reward yourself when you achieve them.
9. Book student storage!
Forgive us for sneaking in this final time management tip, we couldn’t resist! But organising your summer student storage can take precious time which could be spent more productively. The good news? We do all the hard work for you – including collecting and redelivering your belongings. Simply book online.
What did you think of our student time management tips? We hope you found them helpful. For more information about booking summer storage, please head to our student storage page.