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University of Newcastle Library guides

How to plan your study time: Organising your time

Strategies and ideas to organise your time, notes and assessments for effective and effiecient study.

Organising your time

Good time management is essential to success at university.

Beginning or resuming study can be daunting and may seem to be overtaking an already hectic schedule. Be organised. Weekly time management activities will keep you organized and focused.

The feeling of not coping is a negative one and these activities can help keep those feelings at bay.

The first thing you will need to know is realistically how much time do you have to study. To do this assess all the demands on your time and consider:

  • Paid employment
  • Family duties
  • Time spent in lectures and tutorials
  • Recreation and leisure
  • Civic duties

Once you have an understanding of your time commitments you can then decide if you actually have the time to complete a university course. It is important to remember good time management will not help if you are over committed.

The next step is to find out when are your best opportunities to study. .

The Semester Plan: The big picture

As soon as you have access to your course site, locate and print your course outline. This outline will have all the information necessary to plan your semester.

Find the assessments dates and place them into a semester planner.

Keep the details broad. Eg, Course code, Essay, Friday 25th July. Repeat this for all your courses.

You can use the planners found on the university’s website or create your own. They do not have to be fancy.

Once you have done a semester time management plan, it's time to think about how to plan out a week and make a daily 'to do' list.

The Weekly Plan: The Small Picture.

This is where you record everything for the coming week. Sunday is the best day to complete this plan.

Record everything that is not negotiable first; these are the tasks that must be done. e.g. work, school drop off/pick up, weekly tutorials for your course, even shopping.

Be sure to also allow for travel times.

Once you have done this, the time you have available for study will become clear. At this point you can begin to fill in the blanks with revision sessions, assessment preparation, emails you need to send. It is important to also schedule your down time. Time to rest is as important as time to work.

Remember: you are expected to do approximately 10 hours of study per 10-unit course. Planners can be found on the university’s website, create a spreadsheet, or even by hand. They do not have to be fancy.

Colour co-ordinate your activities to make it easy to read at-a-glance.

The Daily Plan: The Detail

A daily to do list is the key to success.

Before you go to bed each day, write a list for the next. Include everything that needs to be done. Don’t worry about writing your tasks in order of priority, because you will instinctively prioritise your list as you go.

At the end of the day, you can see how much you have been able to get done and experience positive feelings of success and achievement.

List the remaining unchecked items to complete the following day. Ensure you do these as a priority. Leaving things undone for one day is okay; however, continuing to ignore them means they will become urgent, forcing you into crisis mode.

You can use the weekly timetable (see below) to fill in all the essential demands on your time.  

Using time slots to get work done

Lastly, think of completing work in time slots. Different periods of time suit different activities.

We can think of time in short, medium and long time slots.

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