Effective time management is the last thing on students minds as they go into a new academic year. After what has felt like an incredibly long Summer, it will soon be time for students to start/return to their new Academic year. If this applies to you, hopefully you’ve had a refreshing break and are eager to get started with your studies. The end of term will no doubt seem a long way off and thoughts of assignments and course work will be relaxed. Assessment deadlines will seem weeks away and it is unlikely that you will be too worried at this stage. It is good to feel refreshed after your Summer break.
However, it is crucial at the beginning of any new Academic term to think about planning. Most students will be studying various subjects, which will have various forms of assessment. Some subjects and courses will have the same deadline for more than one piece of work. Other subjects might have a deadline for part of the assessment, which falls half way through the term and another deadline at the end. There are also likely to be ongoing pieces of work to complete throughout the term. For instance, most University courses place a high emphasis on reading and researching each week. If this isn’t done regularly, it will make impending assessments seem harder and could result in last minute attempts at cramming in information. Any last minute emergency cramming is likely to be highly stressful, which could affect performance in examinations and assignments. Many subjects also require students to carry out presentations in Seminars, which can be time-consuming to prepare for and stressful when presenting. Effective time management can help to relieve the stress.
Studying can therefore be very time demanding. Coupled with this is the demand on some students’ time of a part-time job to help fund their studies. There is also the social aspect of student life, especially for Freshers. It could potentially be the first time away from home for some students, so it is important to settle into your new city, make new friends, join clubs and sample the social life. The different demands on students’ time therefore require managing, if you are to achieve academic and social success.
So what advice is there for managing time effectively? The first step towards effective time management is for students to identify how they spend their time. The easiest thing to do initially is work out daily, weekly and monthly routine tasks, from there you will have an idea of the time left for studying, working and socialising. A time chart would help. During your first learning session, you should be given a Course/Module handbook and/or be directed to Course information on the University’s intranet. This will detail what will be covered in each session, proposed time to be allocated for reading, recommended books/journal articles and assessment requirements. Once you have this information, you can then update your weekly time chart. This will give an idea of how many hours a day you need to attend University and the amount of hours needed for independent study. You will then be able to work out how many hours are available for a part-time job and social activities.
It is also advantageous to maximise the time that is allocated for studying. As there are normally certain tasks/subjects that we find harder than others, it is advised to deal with these tasks first when the mind is fresh. When the concentration dips, the easier subjects can be dealt with. It is also useful to recognise what time of the day; you are more attentive or energetic. Some people are more alert in the mornings and others find studying in the evening more productive. Recognising the most productive time to study, allows you to plan your days/weeks to ensure that time is managed most effectively. If you are better at studying in the mornings, allocate your hardest tasks to be tackled then. Afternoons can be spent doing tasks that require less concentration and evenings can be spent socialising, working or relaxing. The key is for you to identify what works best for you.
How students plan their time during the first few weeks of their new Academic term is vital to Academic success. It also plays a part in health, as staying up late to finish assignments or doing last minute revising, means a lack of sleep, which can be detrimental to physical and mental health. By planning time effectively, stress can be eliminated and students can feel confident that they’ve handed in their best work. It is not advantageous to leave reading and research to the last minute, causing assignments to be rushed and below standard. No-one wants to have to resit exams or redo coursework. Effective time management now, should lead to a more successful student experience.
Till Next Time
Mike gardner is The Time Doctor