I need help managing my time

To manage your time effectively, you need to have a flexible plan that works for you. Creating a plan doesn’t mean you have to stick to it 100%, but it will give you guidance and direction. Having an imperfect plan is better than having no plan at all!

The Learning Centre has created blank plans for you to fill in. See the links below.

1. Weekly Plan
Firstly, create a weekly plan. You can print out a blank weekly plan with instructions and a sample here [see link at right]. This should take about 20-30 minutes to fill out. Remember that this plan is intended to be flexible, and can be changed where needed.

Include university commitments (lectures, tutorials, etc) as well as non-study commitments like part-time work, grocery shopping, playing sport, watching TV, emailing, tweeting, eating and sleeping. Then count up the number of hours that are blank. These hours are potentially available for study. Most fulltime students need between 20 and 40 hours of private study per week (in addition to classes).

Are you an early bird or a night owl? Use these blocks of time for the hardest tasks, such as reading difficult material or writing assignments.

2. Semester Plan
Next, create a semester plan. You can print out a blank semester plan with instructions and a sample here [see link at right]. It should take about 30-45 minutes to fill this in.

Filling out a semester plan helps you see due dates for assessment tasks, and helps you plan in advance (so you don’t leave things until the night before!). A semester plan helps you see which weeks have multiple assessments due.

Effective students take a semester plan one step further. They plan ahead and write which tasks and subtasks need to be achieved each week so that the assignment gets completed on time. For example, an essay would involve the following steps:

  • understand question and brainstorm ideas
  • use library catalogue/databases to look for reference material
  • find reference material (borrow, photocopy, print, save PDFs)
  • skim read references
  • read most relevant references
  • write first draft
  • write second draft
  • edit, proofread

There are 8 steps included here. If you have 4 weeks until the essay is due, you could aim to do 2 steps each week. (If you have only 2 weeks until the essay is due, you’ll have to do 4 steps each week; if the essay is due next week, you’ll need to do 1 or 2 steps each day). Be aware that some steps require more work than others (e.g. reading reference material takes longer than understanding the question).

3. Daily Plan
A daily plan will help you make realistic decisions about how much can be achieved each day. You can print out a blank daily plan with the instructions and sample here [link].

By using this plan day by day, you will be more accountable to your time. Writing in “first draft” at the 11am, for example, is better than thinking “I’ll do the draft sometime today”. Using a daily plan helps prevent procrastination.

For more help on this topic, see the links on the right...