Being a student is all about juggling multiple responsibilities whilst still finding time to socialise and also make time for yourself. It sometimes seems that there aren’t enough hours in the day, and that the important tasks are often pushed back when really they should be prioritised. For most people, there are enough hours in the day to achieve what you want to, it’s just about working smartly and prioritising things that are actually important.
Managing your time efficiently is definitely a skill, and one that most people don’t manage to nail completely (myself included). Whilst I am no expert at this, there are a few techniques that I have developed in order to maximise my hours of productivity and achieve my goals. Keep reading to unlock more hours in the day. Good time management is set up at the start of the day, so check out my post on creating a productive morning routine.
Early bird or night owl?
I used to think that we could all work at any time of the day, and didn’t really believe the whole early bird/night owl thing. That was until university. I would stay up late trying to study, but find that I couldn’t really concentrate because I was so tired, so I wouldn’t get any work done. Then because I’d stayed up so late, I slept in in the morning to catch up on sleep, missing out on more hours of potential productivity.
I quickly learnt that whilst other students could pull ‘all nighters’ that definitely wasn’t for me, and in fact I was the most productive when working in the mornings. This means that now, if I have a lot to do, I don’t work later. I simply finish at the same time, and just get up earlier the next more, as that was when I was the most productive.
Therefore, instead of pushing yourself to work when others are working, find out which schedule works best FOR YOU, and use those hours to maximise your productivity.
If you follow me on Instagram (and you should… click here), you’ll know that I’m a big fan of time blocking as a way of visualising my week ahead. Time blocking involves assigning the hours in your day to a particular task, instead of just having a to-do list and approaching whichever task you want to do next.
Time blocking is great because it keeps you on the task at hand. If you are trying to do 5 different tasks at once then I guarantee it will take you longer than if you just focused on one. It’s not good to continuously change tasks as you lose your focus and when you come back to one task you have to remind yourself of what you’re doing.
A problem some people have is that they block out the day ahead and then they get to a certain time, check what task they’re supposed to be doing and then they don’t really feel like doing it, so they do something else instead. Here you can do one of two things: either swap some blocks around, if you don’t want to be really strict with yourself or, build discipline and make yourself do the task in hand.
There are definitely different levels to time blocking. When I first started university, I would time block my teaching in one particular colour and just designate it as teaching, but now I have different colour codes for lectures, tutorials, and self-directed learning sessions. Some people just like to assign hours to ‘work’, ‘exercise’ etc whereas others may designate time for ‘XXX module revision’, ‘essay planning, etc.
There are lots of different tools you can use to time block. You could just use an app on your phone such as your calendar app or even Google Calendar. I like to draw mine out so I use the time blocker part of my Ultimate Study Packs. Check them out below (available on my Etsy shop here)
If It Takes Less Than Five Minutes, Do It Now
I can’t remember where I got this tip from, I feel like it was from a YouTuber? If I remember I will add it in as this is a very useful tip. It’s really as easy as it sounds. If you need to do a task that takes less than 5 minutes, don’t put it off, just do it then and there. I’m not talking about if you’re in the middle of a task and another one pops into your head. I mean if you’re walking past the washing machine and it’s finished and needs unloading and putting in the tumble dryer, just do it there and then. This stops you from continually procrastinating on tasks that are actually quick and easy to complete.
Three Goals a Day
Have you ever written your to-do list for the day and it’s as long as your arm? If your to-do list is too long, you’ll be overwhelmed and won’t get anything done. When I plan my day, as you can see below, I pick three goals for the day that are my priority for the day and I absolutely HAVE to get done. I then can have up to five more tasks that are important but not as essential as those top three.
Reduce your distractions
This is a similar point to the time blocking part, when your mind is divided, you cannot complete a task properly and you will end up taking so much longer to finish a task. If you’re constantly being distracted, you prolong the amount of time it takes for you to finish the task at hand.
How you reduce your distractions depends on what your biggest distractions are. If you are distracted by your phone, use an app like forest (I’ve talked about forest in more detail in this blog post) or put your phone on do not disturb and put it away. If you’re distracted by other people’s conversations, wear headphones when you’re trying to concentrate. If you’re distracted by hunger, eat before you start working. You get the picture.
Organise Your Task List
You can do this using what’s called the Eisenhower Matrix, which is really not complicated even though it has a fancy name. It’s a way of organising your tasks based on how urgent and important your tasks are. You allocate your tasks in to the corresponding box and then order your list according to the boxes. This planner is available in my Ultimate Study Packs.
The aim is eventually to never have anything in the urgent and important box because hopefully you complete the task before it becomes urgent. This is a good way of managing your time because it focuses you on the tasks that are truly essential (i.e. one of your goals for the day).
Work in Shorter Bursts
Very few people can stay properly focused on tasks for long periods of time, and I am not one of them. A good time management technique is to use a Pomodoro timer, which breaks your work sessions into 25 minutes of productivity and 5 minute breaks (I spoke about my favourite Pomodoro time in this blog post as well).
I hope you found these tips useful, let me know in the comments if you can think of any more! Check out my other posts below and follow me on social media if you don’t already (links at the top and bottom of the page!)
Have a great day!
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