With so much on offer in terms of social life and other activities, it can be hard to find time to focus on academic work. In addition, many students are juggling the pressures of paid work or caring for young children.
Here we take a look at how to manage your time effectively. The quotes are from students at Middlesex University who have been through the same experience.
Make a timetable
If you’ve come to university from school, it can be a shock to find that you alone are responsible for organising your study time – there’s no one now to nag you about homework!
It’s also easy for the day to get swallowed up by other commitments. Making a timetable helps you identify periods of potential study time.
“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.”
It’s tempting to avoid an assignment until just before it’s due. This leaves you with little time to understand the subject or discuss problems with your tutor. Rushing to meet a deadline leads to stress, and your health and other commitments can suffer as a result.
“The best piece of advice, based on my experience, is start work as early as possible. 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.”
Plan around family commitments
Studying for a degree while caring for children or relatives can present a challenge. Effective time management, however, can help you make the most of your study time without impacting on the quality of your family life.
“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. 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.”
Balance study and paid work
With the cost of a university degree rising, many students take on a paid job. Paid work can give you valuable skills, but it’s important that you don’t work too many hours or it could have a negative impact on your studies and personal life.
If you’re in financial difficulty, our student finance section has some useful tips.
“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.”
Find a study method that works for you
Some students find making notes is the best way to retain information about what they read. Others prefer visual methods such as diagrams, flow charts and mind maps. Experiment and find what works for you.
“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.”
However much you have to do, studying for hours without a break won’t help you in the long run. You’ll simply lose your concentration and remember less.
“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.”