Learn to effectively manage your time with these five top tips and boost your studies, social life and personal wellbeing.
So you’re a first year at university looking to get involved and make new friends, to essentially embark on the best years of your life.
Soon you’ll discover that time unfortunately works the same way at uni as it does everywhere else, and with so much to get involved with you might be struggling to fit everything in. So how to find the time? The easiest way is to learn how to effectively manage it.
Make your time count
The main thing to remember is to never leave time empty, because you’ll wish you had put it to use later. But it’s important to find the balance between school, rest and play. Sometimes the best way to manage your time is to take a moment to yourself and relax. If you put the hard work in, it’s fair to give yourself a break. If you know have a huge test Monday, you can work in study time during the week and still go to that great party Friday night, and will have the best experience at university possible.
As a fresher, you’ll want to get involved in all the fun new clubs and organisations on campus. Roller-skating club? Why not. You’ve always enjoyed it recreationally. Tea making? Well, sure, you’ll attend a few meetings. Rock-climbing? You could use the exercise. With all these new interests, it’s important to stay on top of everything by recognising the power of lists. Write your meetings and homework down. Depending on your level of organisation, you may want to also list out personal to-dos such as getting your nails painted or organising a party. Prioritise the items every day and cross things off as you finish them.
Use a diary
It’s there to help you, not stress you out. Plan for every day by mapping out your class and work time, and use your to-do list to fill in the remaining gaps. Knowing when you have breaks and how to best use them prevents you from staying up late studying or getting up early to prepare for a presentation. Scheduling fun is also a necessity, but that two-hour break between anatomy and biology is two hours of homework you won’t have to do tonight while your friends are out having fun without you.
Don’t procrastinate … seriously
You’ve been taught it in school before, but uni is where procrastination shows its true colours. Professors are there to educate, not babysit. There won’t be a daily reminder of the homework due the next day or the topics on the test next week. If you don’t get on top of your coursework, there’s no one to blame but yourself at uni. It may take a few late nights (or early mornings, depending on much you’ve procrastinated) to learn this lesson, but it’s one that needs learning. Despite your less motivated classmates arguing he or she “works better under pressure,” be warned: you’ll complete better quality work, receive better marks and reduce your stress if you just do it now. There’s no time like the present, and waiting until the last minute only leaves room for problems to crop up. Outline the work you need to do, use those lists you started and set goals for studying. It’s not difficult to complete your work it you learn to motivate yourself….
Uni means a lot more studying on your own time. Be honest with yourself. Turn off phones, log off the computer and hibernate. Studying can be one of the biggest wastes of time if you don’t do it correctly. Set a SMART goal—one that is specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely—and write it down somewhere to remind you. Reward yourself once you’ve reached your goal for the day, which will give you motivation to push through that last chapter on medical ethics or to complete that last calculus problem.
No one is born knowing the right way to manage his or her time. The best time management for your specific schedule and work ethic comes with practice. Don’t be afraid of mistakes you may make in the process. Trial and error (all-nighter, anyone?) will teach you to adopt the best practices that will then form the best habits.