Time management has been front and center to ensure my learning experience does not overshadow my life. I have attempted to develop plans to ensure my week is broken down, into chunks dedicated to different purposes. Obviously it is not always relevant or kept to but it is a guide for me so that I remember to schedule 'down time'.
Year 1, BTeach/MTeach Student
Erin O’Brien from the Learning Centre gives advice on challenges and support for time management and planning.
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Time management and planning
Using time constructively and efficiently is an essential skill to develop. First Year students often struggle with this aspect and it is with the first assignment that many students realise they should have started the assignment earlier, allowed more time or been better organised. As students progress throughout their degree they become more accustomed to the time it takes to do things. They also become more efficient as they understand expectations, develop skills and reflect on feedback given. Time management and good planning allows students to spread their workload throughout the semester rather than respond reactively to assignment deadlines which can often coincide at the same time. Time management and good planning also equip students to handle the stress of studying much better.
Taking the courses offered by the Learning Centre is highly recommended. The Learning Centre also has many other useful resources.
Britzman (2000) reflects that “To learn to teach is also to tell a story of what learning to teach “does” to and for student teachers.” Accordingly, a certain amount of self-knowledge is required in order for students to understand when and how they work best. If they have trouble settling into study at home then maximising their time on campus is a good strategy. If students engage in certain forms of procrastination then working on strategies to manage and overcome them is necessary. This pdf on understanding yourself from the Learning Centre is particularly useful.
Semester Planning: In order to be able to manage your workload throughout the semester an overview of the semester’s work is required. This can be done via a semester planner which then gives a clear picture of the whole semester’s assessment tasks. This is a useful reference point that enables students to plan at the weekly level and to plot out their individual assessment tasks.
Weekly Planning: A weekly planner enables you to clearly mark out all your commitments for the week such as attendance in formal classes, work hours, travel time, family and sporting commitments. This then makes it possible to identify those blocks of time that can be best used in independent study.
Session Planning: Session planning means that goals can be set for particular blocks of time that have been identified as available. It also means that larger projects or assignments can be broken down into smaller tasks in order to make incremental progress towards finishing them. It is highly unlikely that an assignment can be done well in one sitting so use small blocks of time to achieve smaller tasks and large blocks of time to achieve larger tasks.
This pdf on planning from the Learning Centre is particularly useful.
Procrastination is an issue for many people. Part of understanding yourself is identifying how your procrastination manifests itself and the reasons behind it. There are different ways to address different types of procrastination and various strategies can be found in the resources provided. The staff vodcast provided addresses social networking and Facebook which can be a particular form of procrastination for some students. Sometimes students can have a larger issue with motivation that has a foundation in uncertainty about the direction they have taken with their study. If this is the case then talking about it with the University Counselling and Psychological Services and Careers Centre can help.
Some students have a tendency towards perfectionism, however, often doing 80% from a usually high personal standard can reap success too. One of our students wrote in our First Year Experience Survey that the best piece of advice she was given was that "Ps get degrees". This does not mean that students should set the bar low, but that they should be kind to themselves, use feedback from assignments to improve future performance, and keep a healthy balance and perspective in their lives.
If there are justifiable circumstances that are a barrier to completing a piece of work on time then the university has policies that enable students to seek extensions and special consideration. The school has a guide to this and other aspects of course administration called the Little Blue Book (pdf, 295kB).
If perfectionism is a particular issue and is having a negative impact on a student’s life or is leading to negative thoughts, behaviour and depression, then help should be sought from the University Counselling and Psychological Services.
Resources at Sydney
- University of Sydney – Learning Centre – Homepage (retrieved Feb 2011)
- University of Sydney – Learning Centre – Learning resources (retrieved Feb 2011)
- University of Sydney – Learning Centre – Course information (retrieved Mar 2011)
- University Counselling and Psychological Services (retrieved Mar 2011)
- University of Sydney – Counselling and Psychological Services – Learning to Deal with Procrastination (retrieved Mar 2011)
- University of Sydney – Counselling and Psychological Services – Motivation (retrieved Mar 2011)
- University of Sydney – Counselling and Psychological Services – Perfectionism and Learning to Deal with Perfectionism (retrieved Mar 2011)
- University of Sydney – Counselling and Psychological Services – Reconsidering Study Choices (retrieved Mar 2011)
- University of Sydney – Careers Centre - What If I Don't Like My Degree? (retrieved Mar 2011)
- UNSW - Learning Centre - Time Management
- Monash University - Learning Support - Study methods (retrieved Feb 2011)
- Monash University – Learning Support – Explore your personality and learning preferences (retrieved Mar 2011)
- Monash University – Language and Learning Online – Task Oriented Study (retrieved Mar 2011)
- Charles Darwin University NT - Organsing Your Time (retrieved Feb 2011)
- RMIT University - Time Management Learning Lab (retrieved Feb 2011)
- Academictips.org - Time Management Tips (retrieved Feb 2011)
Britzman, D. (2000). Teacher Education in the confusions of our times. Journal of Teacher Education, 51(3), 200-205.