Organising your studies
For many students, university can sometimes feel overwhelming, particularly if they have a number of different deadlines and other commitments to fulfil. However, by using time management strategies and planning in advance, some of this stress can be alleviated.
Are you using your time effectively?
Sometimes it can be difficult not to procrastinate, especially when you may feel that your deadlines are a while away and you have plenty of time. The problem with this approach is that students may leave work to the last minute and then panic, which often leads to lower marks.
Consider where is the best environment for you to study, whether that’s at home or in the university library. You may also want to think about when you are most effective – if you are a morning person, you may want to start with your hardest piece of work first, whilst you are feeling the most motivated.
If you have a long to do list, it may be useful to divide these tasks into different categories – are they urgent, important, both, or neither? If you have an assignment that is due the following day, obviously you will want to start this first, but most of the time it is not that clear cut.
You may have different goals whilst you are at university, which may include finding a graduate job, getting a good 2.1 in your assignments and becoming fitter. It can be helpful to break down these goals into smaller, more manageable tasks, thinking about how you can achieve these section and how long this will take.
To ensure your goals are reachable, you could make them SMART:
Specific (how are you going to achieve your goal? Are you going to ask friends and family for help? )
Measurable (how will you know you have achieved your goal?)
Achievable (is your goal realistic and reasonable?)
Relevant (which tasks will help you achieve your goal?).
Time based (how long will it take? Try to give yourself an end date)
Strategies for success
Although it is not realistic for you to party all day and leave no time for studying, it is also not reasonable to study constantly and leave no time for relaxing. Aim for a reasonable balance between the two. You may find it helpful to study for around 45 minutes, with short breaks of 5 minutes in between. It is also important not to neglect your hobbies, as this will make you a better-rounded person and help you feel fresh when you do study. Regular exercise can also contribute to your sense of wellbeing.
If you can, try not to study on your bed or in front of your television. It is better to study at a desk, away from distractions – ideally with your phone on silent. Extensions can be added to your Internet browser to block distracting websites such as Netflix and social media if you would find this helpful.
Preparing for exams
Before you start revising, look at which exams carry the most marks, and budget your time accordingly. If Exam A is worth 50 marks and Exam B only 20 marks, it makes sense to spend time on A – without neglecting B either!
Using a planner
As soon as you are given a set of deadlines or task to do, write it down in your planner, along with any relevant information. This planner does not have to be a traditional diary – it can be on your mobile phone or on a traditional wall planner. What matters is that you will regularly refer back to this planner. Forgetting a task and leaving it to the last minute can result in a lot of unnecessary stress.
When planning your week, take into account other commitments you have, whether this is caring for children or working part time. This will help you plan how much time you realistically have each week to study and see if there is any aspect of your week you could change to free up more time.
Organising lecture notes
You will attend hundreds of lectures during your time at UWL. When it comes to revising for examinations or writing coursework, you don’t want to spend unnecessary time looking for your notes and worrying when you cannot find them. From the first day of term, it is useful to use a simple filing system and folders to keep track of your set of lecture notes.
The Pomodoro technique
The main premise behind the technique is to work in blocks of time, typically 25 minutes long (called pomodoro sessions), followed by a 5 minute break. Each pomodoro session should demand your full attention on one task. After four pomodoro sessions take a longer break. 20 minutes is recommended. (Link: https://tinyurl.com/ydhfxjcj)
This technique was created by an Italian called Francesco Cirillo, who used a kitchen timer shaped like a tomato as his personal timer. Hence Pomodoro, the Italian word for tomato!
Students who have used this technique have found that the strict timing encourages them to work faster and avoids the impulse for procrastination.
Using your commute effectively
Always have small tasks (e.g. reading a journal article for your seminar or learning your vocabulary list) on hand so you can fill in the many little windows of time during your day. If you are commuting an hour to and from UWL every day, this time quickly adds up.
Need extra help?
If you are keen to develop your academic skills, but don't know where to begin, the Engagement Team are on hand to support you. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.