So you need to manage your time better in order to get things done? The key words for effective time management are: organisation and focus.
The first thing you need to know is how you already spend your time. Make yourself a 24 hour clock and try mapping out how you spend your time (including hours of sleep). You will see from this that you may need to cut out some activities in order to allow yourself the time to cover your study commitments. You can draw another 24 hour clock marking on it how you would like to spend your time.
How well do you manage your time now?
Try this simple test. If you answer ‘no’ to any of the following except question 4, then you probably have a time management problem:
1. Do you usually turn up on time?
2. Do you keep most appointments?
3. Do you manage to fit in most of the things you need to do?
4. Do you find you often have to rush things at the last minute?
5. Do you meet deadlines?
6. Do you have any time for yourself to relax? (Cottrell, 1999, p. 64)
Plan ahead – get a schedule going
You should have a weekly schedule or diary and a semester ‘at a glance’ one-page calendar so you can see important due dates over the semester.
A weekly schedule works very well on an A4 sheet – you can then have one page per week. On this you should first write in pen all the things that are fixed (that is, that cannot be changed), such as lectures, tutorials, test
dates and dates asslqnrnents are due. Things that can be changed (your social activities, your hours of study) can be written in pencil and changed if necessary.
Review your ‘pencil’ commitments regularly. Can you cancel anything that is not important? Can you move around commitments so that what is most important receives priority?
Tackling your assignments
Think about starting times for asslqnrnents. Begin essays/assignments at least three weeks before the due date. You will need to factor in to your schedule not only reading and note taking time but also when you will actually begin writing. Set a ‘start’ date for each assignment. Pre-read and pre-write before
that date. Allow yourself plenty of time to research, draft, proofread and edit your written work for top marks.
Also please remember that you will need to allow more time for group assiqnmants, including time to meet with your group members to discuss the asslqnrnent together and to carry out final edits.
Set goals and prioritise
Know your long term vision. Keep your vision in full view on the study wall. It will help you stay motivated.
Set yourself short term goals. Keep a daily or weekly ‘to do’ list. Tick items off as they are done.
Research: be pro-active and orderly
Read and highlight assignment information in your unit outline as soon as you receive it. Begin your research as soon as possible. This will save you time when you are busy.
As you take notes, be sure to take all the bibliographical details that you will need for referencing (such as author, date, title, page numbers). Keep your notes in some sort of order (or better still, learn how to use Endnote) otherwise you will waste a lot of time finding the relevant references when you need to use them.
Don’t procrastinate – use your time well
We all do it: put things off, get distracted and waste time. Know how and where you waste time. Write down your three main time wasting areas and be aware of these. For example, exercise the dog (and yourself) late in the day when you need the break rather than in the morning when you are fresh.
Bear in mind that peak times vary between individuals. While some may study best in the morning, others may find it easier to study late at night. Know when you are most productive and schedule this time for important study tasks. However, whatever your best time, be aware that you will need to have short breaks every hour or so.
Want to watch your favourite lV program? Why not record the program and watch it as a reward after you have finished a study period? Reward yourself for finished work. Spoil yourself after completing an essay draft or block of study!
If there are too many interruptions at home, then the Curtin library is a good place to
study. Ensureyour phone is off and study for a
good SO minute period without interruption.
Stay focussed on the long-term goals
Sometimes bad time management reflects a lack of focus. It’s important to stay focussed and motivated. Rememberto include exercise into your daily work schedule. This is helpful for managing stress and keeping motivated. Factor some sport or walk into your study plan. Above all, enjoy yourself.
Notes prepared by Rose van Son & Carmela Briguglio