Managing your time at university
I have found university to be very different to A-Levels or secondary school, not least because you are given more freedom to manage your time. There tends to be more independent study, but even with scheduled classes, a busy timetable means you need to learn how to manage your time effectively. Everyone has different ways of working, but today I’d thought I’d share some tips for managing your time well at university from personal experience.
Term time at university can be very busy, and you’ll likely find it hard to remember everything unless you write down what you need to do. I have found using an academic diary particularly useful. Writing down tasks or appointments as they arise is a very good idea (it might sound silly, but I’ve learned from experience!) so that you’re not relying on your memory later.
Refer to your timetable
Especially in first year, I found it useful to have my timetable visible in my room and in my diary so I always had it to refer to. Depending on how fixed your timetable is, you might want to write out a timetable every week or at the start of the term, for example. Eventually you should be able to remember your timetable, but tasks can always crop up so it’s good to have it written down. You may also want to use the MyWarwick app to check your timetable. This should also provide helpful information such as how many items you have on loan from the library and when they’re due back, or the amount of printer credit you have, for instance.
Set yourself reminders
If you feel you’re likely to forget something, set yourself a reminder or use a post-it note. The same goes for alarms if you find these helpful.
Turn off WiFi or notifications
If you’re anything like me, you’ll find it really tempting to reach for your phone whilst you’re in the middle of a task. It does depend on the work you’re trying to complete, but turning off WiFi or muting notifications can be really helpful if you’re trying to get something done without procrastinating! I do this a lot, especially when I want to maintain concentration for a specific period of time. Personally, it also means I feel less ‘busy’ and overwhelmed because I’m focussing on one thing at a time.
Write a To-Do List
For me, writing lists really helps when I have a lot to remember and do, and I always feel a sense of accomplishment when I can cross off a task as complete! I’m constantly trying to make sure the To-Do Lists I write are actually realistic so I can be as productive as possible. Furthermore, having a long To-Do List can be demotivating, which is the opposite of what they should be. One way of overcoming this which has helped me is to break down larger tasks into smaller, more achievable ones so they don’t seem as daunting. It’s also good to make sure you give yourself a realistic amount of time to complete the task to help minimise stress and stay on track.
Work out where and when you work best
You can manage your time best by working out when and where you feel most comfortable working. You may not be able to control the timing of scheduled classes, but when it comes to working independently you’ll likely have more flexibility. For me, I prefer to work independently rather than as part of a group, earlier in the day and in my room or the library. Scheduling larger or more important tasks for when you feel most productive will probably help you to get more done and ensure the quality is good.
Don’t over (or under) commit
It is hard to find the perfect balance when managing your time, and is something I’m still working on. It can be tempting when you arrive at university to get involved in lots, which is great, but you should consider whether you’ll be able (and want to) keep up your commitments to avoid stress and disappointment. Doing too much can leave you feeling overwhelmed or burned out, but equally doing too little may mean you feel bored. In first year, I joined multiple societies but ultimately could only commit to a few meetings. You might find it helpful to wait a few weeks before joining up or applying for positions, to see if you can make it work. Another thing which has been useful for me is to make short-term, achievable goals so that I’m not pushing myself too hard but feel comfortable and happy with what I’m doing.
Working out what is more important, useful or enjoyable for you can help you manage your time, to ensure your decisions are informed. It can also mean the way you’re working is clear and logical.
If you need help…
You may be able to approach Student Careers and Skills or your Personal Tutor for advice and support relating to time management.
I hope you have found this post useful. As always, if you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them in the section below.