The Iglu Guide | Blog

7 top time management tips for students

Student life is certainly a lot of fun, but learning how to independently manage your time can be a challenge. For many students, it might be the very first time living away from home, with no one around to externally control those distractions. And there’s always so many fun student events to take you away from your work. Learning how to manage your time effectively is a skill that will help you well into the future. It will free up more hours, help you achieve more – and most importantly, keep those stress levels down. Here’s 7 of the best time management tips for students everywhere.

1. Build a weekly routine

Taking control of your time is key to every student schedule, and that means building a personalised routine that suits your individual lifestyle. Cross reference your university timetable with your social commitments and draw up a weekly planner. It needs to be realistic, so factor in enough time for study periods, any social groups you have joined or part-time jobs and make sure to include some down time. Some students find this approach works better if they physically write their schedule out and stick it up on the wall. Others prefer to use a digital method, and there are many great apps to choose from that will keep students well on track. Look for apps that have features most relevant to your life, ones that you can customise where needed and that integrate well with other apps such as your calendar. Canva has a great timetable option that will help you organise your time in a way that suits you. Keep yourself on track with Todoist and stay on top of all your daily tasks or keep it super simple with Google calendar, and colour-code your way through the weeks ahead. Find out what works best for you and stick with it. You’ll get time back, your learning will benefit, and you’ll get the results you deserve.

2. Break down your university work

If you have a big project to tackle, it can feel quite overwhelming and easy to put off in favour of other more achievable tasks. And it’s not just students that struggle with this issue, because it’s simply human nature to avoid problems where we can. They end up sitting on the to-do list for a very long time and before you know it, the deadline is approaching and you’re in trouble. This is when it’s time to reframe the challenge. Instead of having a one large project on your task list, break it down into smaller chunks that can be achieved as stepping-stones towards a larger goal. That way you get to satisfyingly check off your to-do list – and make important progress at the same time. Students that use this approach find that those intimidating bigger projects now feel completely achievable, saving time, procrastination and guilt along the way.

3. Set yourself goals

Without clear direction, students can waste an awful lot of time. But if you spend just some of that time working out your objectives and how you intend to meet them, it will keep you focussed, motivated and on track for success. Goal setting is a great way to maximise your student experience. It can contain a mix of short-term goals (like completing subject tasks or working towards an average grade), and longer term objectives (such as finding some job-related work experience). The short-term goals will all help you work towards your long-term goals. Many students find the SMART goals strategy is a popular way to help identify goals and ensure they become achievable:

  • Specific – Identify exactly what you want to achieve
  • Measurable – Note how it can be measured
  • Attainable – Clarify how you will make that happen
  • Realistic – Make sure your goal is within the boundaries of achievability
  • Time-bound – Set yourself a deadline

Make sure you regularly check in with your goals to see how you are tracking, and don’t be afraid to make adjustments along the way.

4. Use time-efficient study techniques

We’re always being told to study smarter, not harder. Here’s some tips to help maximise your study time:

  • Use a dedicated study area that’s specifically designated for learning. Avoid the couch, your bed, or a social area. Train yourself to get in the mindset that this is the time for study, and nothing more.
  • Understand the overarching goals and themes of the study session. Ask yourself what the main ideas are before starting, and note any questions you need to answer.
  • Set a time limit. After a period of time, you will struggle to retain any information. Review your work regularly to reinforce the learning.
  • Use quizzes, mind maps and study buddies to keep the learning sticky. Create fun ways to remember information such as memorising rhymes.
  • Try the Pomodoro technique of 3 x 25 min study bursts, interspersed with 5-minute breaks, or try teaching your work to other students. This method requires a deep understanding and is proven to be a highly effective way of reinforcing information.

5. Take regular breaks

Managing your time effectively as a student is not just about cramming in as much study as much as possible. That’s a sure way to end up over-anxious and stressed. In fact, research tells us that taking regular and purposeful breaks can actually make study periods more effective. Ditching the screens, leaving the books behind and doing something completely different will re-energise your mind, refresh your body and increase your productivity levels. Having a balanced lifestyle and getting enough sleep will impact how effectively you study. Students that get a decent 9 hours most nights will not only perform better academically but will also benefit from improved immunity.

6. Remove distractions

Living as an independent student means that you have to take control of your own behaviours. Your mobile device is the gateway down many a different rabbit hole. If you are about to start a dedicated study period, take charge of the situation by closing any social media sites and turning off notifications. If you don’t need to speak to anyone else, physically remove your phone and leave it well out of reach. You can also switch on the screentime function and use it to limit your access as well as monitor exactly how you’re spending your time. If you find you’re breaking your own rules, try an external app to keep you in check. Try FocusMe for personalised routines and specific limitations, or install Mindful Browsing to question your choices. When you find yourself typing in your favourite website, it will ask you to rethink your decision and is surprisingly powerful.

7. Stay flexible

The beauty of student life is the opportunity to have new and wonderful experiences. Meeting new friends, making the most of your student accommodation facilities and exploring your new home all deserve time in your schedule. And whilst it’s great to stay on top of your timetable, make sure you’re also having fun along the way. Don’t be afraid to rejig your schedule and make changes where necessary so that you get to make the most of your student years – and create those student memories that will stay with you forever.

Image: Glenn Carstens-Peters from Unsplash

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