University is an exciting and inspiring time. There is so much to learn and so many new experiences to discover, it’s important to really make the most of it. To help you do this, we have put together a short guide to planning your days to get everything you can from both your studies and your time spent in the UK.
Whether you prefer to write lists, schedule your time in a spreadsheet, or rely on apps to remind you to complete your tasks, planning ahead is essential to managing your time well – especially for studying. If you’re not sure where to start, following these simple steps can help:
- Look ahead. Check to see when your deadlines are and what assignments and assessments you are expected to complete.
- Make the plan. Once you have found out these deadlines, write them into your plan and allocate time to various assignments based on their size and importance. You can either make a wall chart or keep a physical calendar or use a time management app like Class Timetable. Try colour coding to distinguish between different topics or types of assessment as this helps with organisation too.
- Factor in breaks. No one can study all the time – in fact, you become less productive if you stay sitting and trying to focus for long chunks of time. Some research suggests that working for 52 minutes then taking a break can actually make you work more efficiently. Either way, make sure your schedule makes room for these short rests.
- Be disciplined but flexible. You should try to stick to your plan once you’ve made it but sometimes life can be unpredictable. Make sure your schedule is adaptable and has enough space in it to allow for the unexpected.
Although these steps will help you with your studies, knowing when you have deadlines and work-heavy weeks will also allow you to plan social activities like seeing friends and taking trips outside the city.
Try not to give up
Everyone gets distracted and procrastinates sometimes. The key is not to see this as a failure and give up altogether. First of all, don’t set yourself impossible tasks. You won’t be able to prepare for an exam, practice a presentation and write an essay in one day, so you shouldn’t be disappointed when you can’t. Secondly, if you feel your mind begin to wander, try switching tasks or doing something else productive but not necessarily to do with your studies for a little while. You will come back to the original work refreshed.
Self-discipline can still be difficult though and doesn’t come naturally to everyone. There are various apps like Mindly that can help you organise and prioritise your thoughts and web apps like Zero Willpower to block certain sites (for instance Facebook) that you may turn to when you feel like avoiding studying. Whatever happens, just remember every day is a new opportunity so try not to be hard on yourself.
Use the time you have
As students, you spend quite a lot of time travelling to and from campus. You can use this time to catch up on reading, listen to helpful podcasts or even complete some brain training on your phone. Apps like Lumosity are good for this.
In terms of socialising, try combining seeing friends and meeting people with other activities to make the most of your time. Joining clubs or societies is a great way to get to know your peers and to engage with your interests. It also allows you to participate in an essential part of university life.
Don’t get hung up on structure
People work in different ways; what is right for your classmate will not necessarily be good for you. You may need to try a few different types of planning before you find the one for you. Once you’ve found your planning style (handwriting, colour-coding, digital schedules) that process also shouldn’t be set in stone. Keep reviewing it and making adjustments. Be open to improvements and you will find yourself managing your time more and more efficiently.
If you want more information about studying at Ulster University’s London or Birmingham campuses, visit our website.