Introduction to time management
Everyone has the same amount of time available to them. We cannot control time, but we can learn to use it more efficiently and effectively by planning carefully.
The credit value of the course generally indicates the number of hours per week of study required per semester:
- A 15 credit single semester course requires approximately 12.5 hours per week
- A 15 credit double semester course requires approximately 6 hours per week
This is the average time requirement and will vary depending on previous study experience, whether English is your first language, individual study methods and the weekly demands of the course.
Decide what is important. Define your priorities by deciding what your goals are for that week or that day.
Using this goal-oriented approach to your work also helps you plan your time. It helps you decide which of the goals are likely to take more time and therefore what day, when and where you will be able to fit them in.
For more information on allocation of time, see the sections on time management for internal students and time management for distance students.
Once you have established what your goals are create an action plan to achieve them, i.e. plan step by step what you will do to achieve each goal. Regularly make a To Do list which sets out your priorities.
- Use down time, e.g. waiting time, travelling time.
- Set your own deadlines - they provide motivation for completing tasks.
- Share your goals - this increases your motivation because you are making a public commitment and you do not want to let yourself down.
Set aside definite study times, with equal amounts of time allocated for each course per week, that you will keep to, e.g. Sunday 2-5 pm, Wednesday 8-11 pm. Create a pattern of expectation of study at those times. Study time should be planned in the same way as you plan leisure, meals, work, sport and exercise and sleep time.
The D.I.N. rule
One of the most difficult stages of academic tasks is getting started.
Some assignments look pretty scary, especially if they are different from previous activities. So to overcome this barrier, Do It Now is a very good strategy. It gets you started and once a task is started you are likely to finish it. This also of avoids issues with procrastination and other time wasters.
This strategy allows you to find out if you have enough resources. It also helps you deal with those unexpected small assignments.
Because you are now in charge of your own learning, you also have to reward yourself when you have done a good day's or week's work. You can keep yourself working with the knowledge that when the reference list is finished you will
- check your emails
- text your friend
- go for a run
Arrange a bigger reward for yourself when a major assignment is completed.
If the time plan does not work straight away, do not give up; spend some time thinking about what has happened that interfered. It may be something unanticipated over which you have no control such as illness. However if this is not the case, it can be very educational to keep a time diary for two or three days and note down what you do are doing every 20 minutes throughout the day and how long you do the different activities. You often find out where and when you are losing or wasting time.
- Did you leave something out of the plan?
- Are you not allowing a realistic amount of time?
- Do you need an additional motivator?