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Time Management Tips from Students

Balancing study and other aspects of your life   Breaks   Calendars   Childcare   Diaries   Essays   Family   Going Crazy   Goals   Handbooks and Guides   Individual experiences   Lists of Tips   Never allow the work to build up   Organisation   Persistence   Planning   Start essays early   Structure   Timetables   Understand   University is different from school

Individual experiences

I never realised how important time is until I started university. Getting the best out of you studies in university is forgoing one thing for another. (opportunity cost). When I first started university I was working full time. As time went by I realised that I just could not cope, so I decided to work part-time while studying. I can now cope better with my school work load and can produce a better output. I feel more relaxed and realise how much I am taking in. As a single person living on my own, I have all the time to do my work and submit on time. It is not so for students who have commitments like family, children husbands and so on, who must find it harder to balance their everyday routine with their studies. By the time parents finish their day's chores they must be so tired they just want to sleep. If I was a parent, I think the mornings when the children have gone to school would be the best time for me to study. I would give myself at least two to three hours everyday and see how best I could manage my time.

I feel that the best way to study is to read the text and then read again and make notes. I tend to move through two or three books at the same time looking for similar points, which are phrased in a different way. When I'm doing this I tend to find that I will come across different but still relevant material to use. I make a point of only reading for an hour to an hour and a half at a time after which I will have a half hour break. Once refreshed I find studying much easier. I do have to be strict with myself because I have so little time to actually study I have to make sure I make the best use of it. Another thing I try to do is to read round the subject as much as possible to widen my understanding. I have to balance my duties as a parent, student and husband in a way that allows quality time for each unless problems may occur which may be more important than University. You will have to be prepared to manage your time with many considerations in mind. I have found time management very hard with two pre-school children and a wife in full-time employment.

The best piece of advice, based on my experience, is start work as early as possible. It is not wise to leave things to the last minute. I learnt by experience. One module gave me plenty of time to write an essay and a calendar to do so, but my own time management caused me to settle down to work at the wrong times, not giving me enough time to work on each of my three modules. Despite the time and the calendar, I was not able to finish the essay by the deadline. I learnt a lot about time management from that experience.

In the second semester I looked carefully at the handbooks and study guides for my modules and noted the requirements. Where a module published its handbook before it started, I was already prepared for it at the start of the semester. By planning ahead, with time to spare, had the advantage that I could look over work in advance to discover some of the problems, make appointments with tutors for help, and meet up with other students who might have the same difficulties.

Lists of Tips

Here are some tips to improve your study, but they will only work if you manage your time to get the best out of study.

  • Do not leave your course work to the last minute

  • Make sure you understand the lecture before you leave the classroom.

  • Be prepared to ask questions.

  • Read your text books and lecture notes again and again as you get new information.
You should be prepared to spend at least 3 to 4 hours every day reading lecture notes and text books, and gathering information.

My tips for getting the best out of study at university are:

  • Try to attend all lectures, seminars and workshops. Although, obviously there will be times when for some personal reasons you cannot attend.

  • Do work when you get it

  • Work with others.

  • To stop yourself from getting stressed and overloaded with work, try to organise time for your study in and around others demands on your life. Try to make a healthy balance of all of them.

Balancing study and other aspects of your life

Manage your time well for each module, but also make sure you get a good balance between work and social life. That is vital for life in general.

Set aside time specifically for each subject. Try to study one subject a day.

You need to balance time. If you are bad at balancing things make a personal timetable. Even if you do not stick to it, you will have an idea what you should be doing each day. This is better than trying to do everything each day and, at the end of the week, not achieve anything.

Also, try to keep your weekends free of studying. Only study at the weekend if you really have to.

I had to learn to balance work, study and family when I was at college. I was a retail assistant working part-time and had at least four modules to complete at the same time at college. I also had to help around the house doing household cleaning and shopping at times. I managed to finish my college work on time, which was very difficult and hard, and still hold down a job.

Why was it possible? Because I only thought about my part-time work when I was at work on the week ends and my college work had to be done from Mondays to Fridays before the week ends.

This was hard - but you need to set a timetable for yourself. It was an achievement when I finally realised that things have to be done in order, and need to be organised as well.

Balancing study and other aspects of your life can be a problem if you have a job or a family, but planning in advance is helpful. Use the time you have well. Do not leave anything until the last minute, as this will only cause problems.

Studying is a big commitment and needs time to work on it. Managing time is the best way for students to succeed. By managing your time, other commitments can be fulfilled and you can study without distractions. But finance and child care are serious problems. I found that the only way to get good grades was by doing less paid work so that I had more time for my studies. The problems are real, but make your action plan for the week and stick to it. This will help you study and deal with your other responsibilities in the best way.


Autonomous learning requires good time management and self discipline - Not only to meet deadlines but to make sure you do not do too much studying at one go.

Take breaks, lots of breaks. Really chill out. Take it all in your stride. If you are uptight or stressed this will show in your work. So carry on meeting friends and going out as you would normally. You might start doing more things, new things. It will all help you in your studying.


If, like me, you have small children, managing your studies can become quite difficult. One way of dealing with this is to try and organise some sort of childcare. There may be a nursery you can afford, or family member or friend may spare two or more hours a day to let you concentrate on studying.

From since I can remember, I have been an organised person. I was always on time for everything and never forgot anything.

Since starting university that has changed. One of the hardest things for me was learning to juggle everything else outside the university and still be able to continue with my degree.

People at the beginning of the semester were stating time management all the time to me and I was thinking

"I'm ok because I've always had to have a routine because of my child and I am used to this."
About four weeks into the semester I started feeling really tired and could not really take time out for one thing and another. It was not long after this that I thought I was going crazy. It was then that it dawned on me that this is what they meant by time management.

So what I am saying is that if you set yourself a timetable and try your best to keep to it, it will help to bring your stress levels down.

You will feel stressed doing a degree and coping with other responsibilities outside of the university, and being a single parent makes things twice as stressful, but don't think your alone. There may be plenty of nice tutors who will chat to you if you feel it is all becoming too much. And, even if the tutors are not so nice, there are other students to talk to.

I think this is part of adapting to university life and so you may well think your going mad. But if you talk to other students about it, you will probably find they are having the same experiences.

Try to get enough sleep. With children that is easier said than done, but whenever you can, go to bed by 12 oclock. A good night's sleep makes all the difference.


To get the best out of my studying as the mother of two school children, I plan my schedule each week and slot in the tasks I intend to complete. I do not allow myself to get behind with my studies as this makes me very stressed and tends to affect my behaviour towards my children. At the beginning of each semester I work out all my deadlines and balance these in with my children's half-terms etc. I generally do not work in the evenings and rarely at weekends as I consider these to be family times. If I am pushed for time I do study early in the mornings. So far this has worked well for me.

I am a father, and also have two dogs, and it seems at times that I live in a madhouse where finding a peaceful couple of hours is impossible. I overcame this by planning my time constructively. I drew up a sort of timetable where I would get two or three hour sessions of peaceful study time everyday. Also, if i was not too tired, I could find another two or three hours at night. This made my studying much less stressful and made what I was reading sink in a lot better.

I am juggling family life, university and a part-time job and, at the moment, have no childcare. I am using temporary nannies for my baby, which I am not keen on doing, and my other two children have to be collected from school too. What I am having to do is utilize my friends and my husband, and work in the evenings, sometimes very late at night.

It is difficult to work when the children are around as they will want my attention and I do not want them thinking that I am working all the time, or that I am working and not giving them attention. For me a good time to work is at night, which is quiet, and I can concentrate for as long as I like without being disturbed.

If I have to work at a weekend, I ensure that the children have good quality time with me. For me it is important for my children to be under the impression that university work is fitting in with them, even when it is the other way around.

Tips on family stress


Have a goal and work at it. It may be revising for an exam, reading a book, making a presentation, or writing a essay. Whatever it is, you need to focus on that piece of work and work at it until it is completed. Research into it and get the most you can out of doing it. Most importantly: enjoy doing it.

Handbooks and Guides

Every student should be familiar, from the beginning of a course, with the handbooks, guides, etc. that the university provides. They need to know the requirements of the courses they have chosen to be able to manage their time properly. I think that all students should try to finish the work they have to do much earlier than the deadlines given to them. They should never leave work to the last moment. If they make out a realistic schedule they will neither fail to meet university's engagements nor feel anxious. Consequently, they could have plenty of time for other duties and interests.

Never allow the work to build up

Never allow the work to build up. Always try to stay on top of everything and keep ahead of the deadlines. Plan as far as possible, making yourself a weekly timetable of work. If you have children, try to get everything done when they are at school, particularly taking into account holidays. If you have work commitments, try to prioritise so that when it comes to essay writing times, you have allowed enough time to prepare your essay without feeling stressed or panicky.

If you keep up with the required work from the very beginning it will create less stress and panic towards the time to hand in the work. By planning so that you finish a bit earlier - before the deadline - you can look back at your work and correct any problems.


You must be organised, or the pressures will mount to your disadvantage.
(If you are a parent, good organisation is crucial)


Persistence in study will lead to an understanding of the subject and better answers. Other aspects of life may have to take a back seat while you apply yourself to study.


Plan when you have your lessons - and then work around that. You may find that you have a couple of hours to spare between lessons. So why not use some of that time to write up some of your notes? This way it will not interfere with your social life. Also plan to work when your friends are working, and work as a group. For example, friends can read and comment on each other's work. Even if they are not doing the same course, they will still know how clear a piece of writing is.

Plan is the key word.

Start essays early

Start work when the ideas are fresh. This way you keep your purpose, and the hardest part of an essay is starting it anyway. If you work when you have the ideas and the drive, your essay will take some shape. This shape will allow you to identify the points you need to work on and, as you started early, you will have time to plan your work on these points. Some people find that one or two hours a day on an essay is the best way to write. Others need longer sessions of sustained work.

In the study skills module I learnt interesting time-management strategies for essays, which are easy to list, but which I know I will have to work on and adapt:

Understand what you are doing

Time spent working on understanding issues saves time because you will then know what you are doing.

One way to increase your understanding of what you are studying is re- writing your notes in a different form than the one you took them in. You could turn bullet points into sentences - make diagrams to illustrate some points - look up books mentioned and add their details - think of alternative arguments and note them - even draw pictures to illustrate the points.


I would advise new students to give themselves a structure from the beginning. I have paid work for quite long hours, that vary each week, and I have found that the best way to ensure that I get my academic work done is to put aside at least two, sometimes three and occasionally four (in the run up to assessment deadlines) days a week where I either sit in the University library or at the computers working. Much of my paid work is done at home and I have found that the best way for me to balance study and the other aspects of my life is to separate the studying. This is why I think I find it easier and more productive to study in the library, where the books are available, the computers are there and there are less distractions.


click for definitions calendar, diary and timetable

Draw up a good timetable that shows all your lectures, seminars, free periods for extra study and basic time out for yourself.

You should be aware of all your assignments and deadlines from the earliest stages of each semester. I usually make a calendar for each module, which I stick on the wall in my kitchen, where I can refer to it as and when the need arises.

I consider myself average at time managing. I try not to rush things and I like to give myself a lot of time to prepare. My advice would be to always be in control and never let things get on top of you. Manage your time as best you can, even if this means making a diary of things to do or writing out a timetable and sticking to it. If you have a part-time job as well as your studies, try not to take on to much, so that your studies do not suffer.

I found the best way of balancing study with a social life was to create a timetable and stick with it. The end result should be nearly 12 hours a week on each module. If the same time is set for each module every week, than the timetable becomes easier to follow. I found I could not always go by my timetable. So, if activities outside of study were unavoidable, I made extra study time to make up for the time lost. Time management is very important to me. It can make a serious difference to the grade gained at the end of a module.

Obviously getting the best out of your study would mean that you would have to do about six hours of reading a day, this is what some of the modules set for you. Realistically though, this is virtually impossible as outside influences effect your study. I would say a good balanced lifestyle is the only way to get the best out of your studies. I normally allow for three days for lectures and two to three evenings for study. I work three days a week and finally attempt to have a day off for leisure.

University is different from school

If you have come straight from school then University life will be very different, because there is a lot more freedom. This will seem great at first, but you also learn that in a way, it becomes more difficult than school (I am referring to the mode of study rather than the content of the study), because what you must learn is no longer handed to you on a plate. You must self-manage your studies and research the topics yourself. It is very easy not to do much studying at all in the first year, unless you are very self-motivated. If you are not, then try to help yourself by reading as many books as you can from the reading lists for your modules, or any books that are relevant to your course, even if you are not specifically learning about it at the time. It is good to discuss the issues you read about with others on your course. You need to form personal views about subjects, because if you can somehow personally relate to a subject area, then you are more likely to understand it. Even though your study is self-directed, you can still ask a lecturer if you do not understand something. A lecturer can help you to understand more fully, and advise you on the best books to use for your research. It is often difficult to balance study with other aspects of life. For example, some students have part-time jobs and/or families to think about, other students who have neither of these factors, may instead enjoy socialising a lot (usually in pubs and clubs). I think that this too is an important part of University life and life in general. Making friends and social action is an important part of social integration, and may even be relevant if you are studying a social science. Interacting with people also means that you can then study together and help each other. However, there should be a balance between study and other aspects of your life. It can often be difficult to self-motivate, so a good strategy may be to make up a rough timetable of your week, which allocates specific time slots where you should sit down and do some studying. Ensure that this time is quality time where you can really concentrate, away from family and friends, the TV or the radio.

The contributors to this page include:

Shama Abraham, Marcella Amado-Taylor, Saba Bahta, Scott Stephen Brown, Charlotte Cane, Samantha Chase, Vanessa Christian, Baliktsioglou Christos, Melissa Claydon, Natasha Davy, Rachel Evans, Alexandra Glyde, Mandi Goldberg, Deborah Goulden, Jolene Greeves, Georgina Haynes, Michelle Jones, Lisa Kaye, Tim Knight, Denise Lapierre, Choy-ying Liu, Neil McGrath, Halima Jayda Mian, Tania Porteous, Jon Reavey, Mandy Sabaroche, Layah Shaw, Leanora Smith,

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