With exams approaching, it’s now more important than ever that you learn to perfect your time management skills. The cliché “work smarter, not harder” saying is one that actually rings true in this case and it’s something that you should keep in mind when it comes to planning out your study schedule. Burning the candle at both ends won’t help you in the long run but learning to use your time effectively will help to keep your stress levels low and your to-do list completed.
Here are our top seven time management tips, designed to help you achieve a healthy balance between studying and relaxing at university:
We live in a world that is dominated by technology, but the new advancements aren’t always better than the more traditional methods. Your phone and laptop hold within them an endless barrage of distractions so, if you find yourself struggling to get things done, switch to pen and paper for an hour or so. You’ll often be surprised by how much more you get done, how much more creative you are and how a simple change to your routine can have a huge impact on your productivity levels.
The ability to multi-task is often associated with those who work the hardest but it’s a myth. In fact, working in this way can (and often will) make you less productive. You simply cannot give your full attention to more than one task at a time so it’s futile to attempt it. Instead, immerse yourself fully in one task at a time and focus on quality rather than quantity. Not only will this help you to produce your best work, it will also allow you to cross off a completed item from your to-do list which will, in turn, motivate you to keep going.
At the start of each week, set aside five minutes to write out a schedule for the days ahead. You don’t need to slot out each minute of the day but by creating a rough framework for yourself to follow, you give yourself some accountability and will be less likely to deviate drastically from your plan. Be sure to include time slots for relaxing, exercising, eating, socialising too as they are activities that are important to find time for too. Plus, that way, even when you’re taking a much-needed break from your studies, you’ll still feel as though you’re being productive as you won’t be straying from your schedule.
It might seem counterproductive but getting a good eight hours of sleep a night is paramount to you being able to manage your awake time effectively. If you’re tired, everything is going to take you longer to do and nothing will be completed to the best of your ability. So, switch off your laptop before it gets too late at night and get yourself some much-needed rest at the end of each day.
Again, this is one of those tips that seems counter-productive but trust me when I say that it isn’t. No one can continue to work at full capacity for a solid eight hours. After completing each task on your list, give yourself a ten to fifteen-minute break. Step away from your screen, go for a quick walk, have a chat with your housemate – just do something to clear your head. The short break will be enough to leave you feeling refreshed, without being so long as to curb your productivity.
Take a second to think about how much time you waste each day. Time spent on the bus, sitting in waiting rooms and stood in a queue is often taken up by you scrolling on your phone. Leave your phone in your pocket and make the most of this time by doing something productive such as catching up on your reading list, writing your to-do list for the day or skimming over your notes. You’ll be surprised at how much more you get done in the day when you utilise every spare moment.
There’s a theory that completing the biggest items on your list is the best way to curb unproductive behaviour but I’m not so sure that I agree. While it’s great to tackle the harder bits while you’re feeling motivated, looking down at your to-do list after an hour of working to only see one item crossed off can be very depleting. Instead, I suggest, tackle two to three simpler tasks for every big task that you need to do. That way, each time you check on your progress you will feel as though you’re powering through your list.
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