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Time Management

How can I organise my time?

This page will discuss four main ways of organising time: breaking into steps, using time planners, making lists and prioritising. Watch the video below for some quick tips on time management.

Video on Time Management

1. Smaller bites

Think of an assignment as a series of steps. For example, writing often incorporates the following stages adapted from Godfrey (2011, p. 98):

  • Understand: look at the assignment brief and title.
  • Rough Plan: write down initial thoughts.
  • Research: read and take notes.
  • Detailed Plan: list topics for paragraphs.
  • 1st draft: develop thoughts.
  • Additional drafts: write introduction/conclusion; check against plan and title.

Tip

Balance the time spent on different steps. Use the planner below to allocate time periods for stages of writing.

UWE (2020) assignment planner (opens in a new window)

2. Time planners

Weekly planner

  • Start by putting in all the activities already planned e.g. taught workshops and work.  
  • Colour coding can be assigned for different activities.
  • The spaces left can be used for independent study.
  • Consider when you study best: morning, afternoon or evening.
  • Write notes in the boxes as to what you hope to achieve.
Weekly time planner example with colour coding.
Figure 1: Example of a colour coded weekly timetable
Weekly Timetable: Word Weekly Timetable: PDF

Long-term planner

  • Another way of planning involves viewing the weeks and months ahead.
  • Plot deadlines, milestones and key activities.
  • Try the monthly planner below or make a Gantt chart to see an overview of an entire term or project.
  • Use Tom’s Planner or Excel to make a Gantt Chart.
Monthly planner: Word Monthly Planner: PDF

3. To do lists

  • Lists can be made daily, weekly or termly for whole assignments.
  • Remember to make targets SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time bound).
  • For instance, rather than setting a vague target (do research), you could aim to find one book on colour theory and take notes for an hour.
  • Tick or highlight an item once it is complete to help you track progress.
  • Try an app such as Remember the Milk to create digital lists.
To do list Word doc To do list: PDF

4. Prioritise

  • It can help to prioritise your actions and lists.
  • You can use a traffic light system of red (high importance), amber (moderate importance) and green (low importance).
  • Another way of prioritising is by labelling tasks as now, soon or later (Williams and Reid, 2011).
  • Ask: How critical is this?

Tip

Eat the frog first: ‘your biggest, most important task’ (Tracey, 2017, p. 2)

Pyramid for prioritising time in terms of now, soon, later
Figure 2: Pyramid for prioritising time

5. Overcome procrastination

  • Procrastination is the act of postponing or delaying.
  • Stella Cottrell (2019, p. 28) recommends taking small steps, having an organised routine and rewarding yourself after reaching goals.
  • It also helps to be aware of your common distractions (such as television). See some tips about overcoming distractions from Learn Higher (2021)
  • Watch the short video from the University of Sheffield about overcoming procrastination.
Video about procrastionation

Sources consulted

Graphic to represent a list of eBooks.

e-Books:

Find out about managing time here: https://tinyurl.com/rzyz73k

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