Warwick / well being

Managing your time effectively at university

One of the significant skills you may have to develop as you make the transition to university and living independently  is the ability to manage your time effectively. Chemistry student and guest blogger Manpreet shares her experience and offers advice to help you succeed in your studies.

Typical student life at Warwick consists of academic, social and society commitments. In addition, you might have a job or other roles within your department or with external organisations/ departments. In other words, you’ll be balancing a lot of different commitments at the same time. You are not, however, expected to join university as a time management expert. Instead, this is a skill you’ll find you develop at university as you study for your course, commit to societies, and do other activities alongside. Here are some tips from me to help you have a productive time at Warwick.

Keep an academic planner.

Buy a decent size so you can fit all events in. This will help you to keep track of meetings, tutorial due dates, and other events. Although it is all down to you, I would discourage you from using your phone/ laptop. Last year I missed two events because I added them on my laptop and trusted it to sync it all in my phone which it didn’t. There are so many calendars that I personally get confused and planners enable you to have everything in one place.

A task-based approach to revision is effective.

Instead of aiming to spend three hours in the library every day, plan to finish your notes, or do a maths exercise or read a set number of chapters from a book. This will give you a real sense of achievement and in this way, you’ll be able to measure you progress. With allocating time to revision, you can never really be sure if you used all the time to do productive work.

Work to your own body’s clock.

Some are early morning birds whilst others are night owls. However, neither waking up early nor going to bed late works for me. I am a 9-5 sort of person. With ‘all-nighters’, I feel like I have trained my body to do one every week but this is of course different for everybody. I would encourage you to try different approaches within the first term to establish how your body does it best.

Add weekly society events to your planner.

In this way, they’ll become a part of your timetable and you’ll be able to commit better especially if it is a society where you develop a skill, like a sport or dance. This will, in addition, help you to keep track of how much time you spend with societies so you’re more aware of how much time your extra-curricular activities will take. With regards to social events, there isn’t a specific number that can be allocated. Besides getting your academic work done, there is really no other requirement. Having fun and forming friendships is a key part of university life so definitely get involved!

Allocate a day for shopping!

I personally prefer to do my shopping on Wednesday afternoons. Coincidentally, none of the societies I joined in my first year had any events on Wednesdays. I prefer weekday evenings because then I can head to the library at the weekends and spend the most of my day there. I cannot study effectively in my room and feel I must go to the library to get my work done, the reverse may be true for other students depending on their learning style and study environment that they feel suits them – establish where you work best i.e. where you are least likely to get distracted but also where you’re able to focus.

Use vacations to catch-up on your work if you fall behind.

In my degree, Chemistry, the course was taught up until early-term 3. This highlights the importance of learning content as it is taught because there is often not enough time to teach everything to yourself later since you are constantly learning new topics. Lecture capture comes to the rescue of most when it comes to revising over vacations. As a chemistry student, I benefited from lecture capture, but if you don’t have it, you might be able to request the academics to provide you the slides or request a friend for notes to supplement your learning.

Finally, don’t try to plan every minute of your time.

This might sound like going against the laws of time management but planning everything can make your life feel quite robotic. Besides, when do plans ever perfectly work out in this world? Have back-ups for those days when you don’t feel like studying or you’re not feeling well, or your laptop breaks down! Just keep on top of things. Reflect upon your progress every night before going to bed and aim to fix things, if needed, the next day.

I recently watched a TED Talk which highlighted the elastic nature of time. The speaker said that you can fit in as many tasks as you want in the 24 hours that you have in a day. Therefore, don’t worry too much about committing to lots of activities – if they matter to you, you will automatically find the time to do them.


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