Time management in PAIS – OurWarwick

Time management in PAIS

United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (the)
Luke James | Politics and International Studies (PAIS) Contact Luke

Full disclosure. I’m writing this blog at 9 AM on a Thursday morning.

I submitted my dissertation yesterday and have six days to write my final essay as a PAIS student at Warwick.

After that, I have open book exams on 17, 25, and 27 May.

Then I’m done. Finished. Complete. Whole.

First of all, I find it absolutely incredible that my three years at this university comes to an end in 21 days. Where on earth has all the time gone!?

Second, I feel prepared. I feel as though I’ve put in the hard yards (to quote a useless sports cliché) – and that I’m ready to graduate from Warwick, hopefully having made a good account of myself.

Above all else, one skill has been really important to me at university.

Time management.

University is completely different to school in the sense that you work to your own schedule. If you want to start writing your summative (assessed) essay on day one of term one… that’s your call.

If you want to start writing your dissertation a week before the deadline… that’s your call.

(It definitely wouldn’t be a good decision – but it’s there for you to make.)

I’ve always been a bit of a time management nerd (’ve gone through many-a-spreadsheet), so I thought it would be sensible if I handed off some of the intel I’d come across during my time at Warwick.

I won’t claim that I’m some kind of time management guru (that’d be silly), but here are some tips. Hopefully they help!

1) Keep a routine

Until very recently, I tried to work 09:00 – 17:00 as often as possible. I’d punctuate my day with breaks. Food breaks. Exercise breaks. The occasional Grey’s Anatomy break. But the rest of the day, I would spend working – whether that be doing research or attending lectures/seminars.

I found working to a fairly rigid routine really helpful for two reasons.

First, it gave me a good idea of how much work I could accomplish in the day.

Two, it gave me a finishing time.

Having an ‘end time’ was a really handy way of making sure that university didn’t completely rule my life. It was a good call.

2) Start essays early

In a typical (non-Covid) year, I like to start my essays four weeks into the term. There are three reasons for this:

One: I like to do one essay at a time. Starting early allows me to spend a couple of weeks working on each submission.

Two: Starting early allows you to have some ‘off’ days. There will be occasions when you just can’t write an essay. You might get writer’s block. You might be tired. You might be bored. You might have tickets to watch Star Wars.

Whatever it is, if you start early, you can build having ‘meh’ days into your schedule. Sneaky.

Three: You avoid the crunch. I absolutely hate working close to deadlines. They stress me out. So, I do everything in my power to finish early.

I find that week four is the right kind of starting mark for me.

3) Have fun

Recently, I’ve been really focused on finishing my dissertation.

Last night, I actually had a dream about my dissertation… wild.

There have been occasions when I’ve just wanted to work, work, work, work, work… and leave no space for anything else.

That’s not a good use of your time.

Think about professional athletes. If they spent every day training at 100% intensity, they’d be in terrible shape for the event they were preparing for.

So, make it part of your time management strategy to have fun.

Leave some space in your schedule to watch Formula 1, drink chai lattés, and catch up with the Kardashians. Whatever floats your boat.

I’ve loved every minute of being a PAIS student. But I wouldn’t want to spend every minute being a PAIS student!

As always, get in touch if you have any questions for me about my time at Warwick 🙂

Speak in a couple of weeks!

United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (the)
Luke James | Politics and International Studies (PAIS) Contact Luke

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