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Time Management: Time Management

Why Manage your Time?

At university you will have many competing deadlines and you will want to ensure you meet them all. As such, time management skills are fundamental in ensuring you complete all your assignments in time with minimal stress, and have time to enjoy all the other social aspects of university life! 

Poor time management is not an intrinsic personal quality, but it is just a bad habit that can be broken with the help of some effective time management strategies!

Top Tips for Time Management at Uni - Video

Let's Talk about Time Management Video

The below video explains how to create your independent study timetable and provides a few other top time management tips!

Organising your Independent Study Time

At university you will have a fixed timetable for your lectures, seminars, tutorials, and possibly other practical elements, depending on your course. Outside of these timetabled commitments you may also find you have a lot of spare time in the week, where you should be doing independent study.  







What is independent study?

Independent study is the time you should be using to

  1. Review your notes from your lectures and seminars

  2. Do extra reading to add to your notes each week

  3. Prepare for seminars and lectures

  4. Work on assignments related to that module.


The amount of spare time you have will depend on your course, personal circumstances and whether you have a paid job alongside your studies. However, you will need to do a certain amount of independent study for each module each week. Please see your module handbook for guidelines on how many hours per week you should be doing.  

Managing your independent study and making use of this time can be one of the most challenging areas of time management at university, As such, we recommend putting an independent study timetable in place for each term, so that you have a regular routine and are giving the right amount of time to in depth study for each module. This should reduce your stress and will ensure you are doing the right amount of extra study!

Creating an Independent Study Timetable

You can use and online planner or a paper one, similar to the image below.


  1. Firstly, add all your fixed commitments, for example your lecture and seminar slots to your weekly timetable template. Have a look at how much time you have left over in the week, you might be surprised!


  1. Now, decide how many hours of independent study you would like to give to each module each week? (check your module handbook for guidelines on this)
  2. Next think about when would be best for you to do independent study for each module. This is very individual and will depend on when you work best and the time you have.
  3. Decide how long each block should be 1, 2, 3 or even 4 hours? You can split up your independent study time and do it in several blocks, whatever works best for you.
  4. Now add this to your weekly timetable. It may look something like this. (IS = independent study)


However, this is a very individual process, so everyone’s timetable will look different.  You can even choose to do more independent hours if you have the time, but remember you do not need to fill in every hour on your timetable. Make sure there is plenty of time for breaks. 

It may help to think about your course as a 35 hour a week job!

You now have a rough academic schedule for the semester! Unfortunately, life is unpredictable, and things can change, and appointments come up, so be flexible. If you miss an independent study block, add it back in to your timetable that week so you are keeping up with your study hours.

This timetabling strategy can have a very positive impact on procrastination, but it will require some level of discipline! It may take time for you to get into a routine, so give it time and if you feel your timetable is not working you can always rethink it and make some changes to it. 

Creating a weekly study timetable is a great first step to managing your time, but you will also need to consider what you will do in each study block for maximum effectiveness. Creating SMART goals  can help with this.

Think SMART when setting your goals!

  • Specific – The more specific your goals the more likely you are to avoid procrastination.
  • Measurable and motivating – Will you know when you have completed your goals? If so, you can tick them off at the end of your study block!
  • Achievable – Are they attainable in the time you have set aside?
  • Realistic and relevant – Are the goals you have set relevant and can you realistically get them done in the time you have set aside?
  • Time bound – Have you set a time limit to complete it?


Before you sit down for a study block, think ‘what could I realistically complete in this session?’ (depending on how long your study block is) Then write these goals down.  An example might be as follows. You can even prioritise these goals by using a number system to show priority.  

Remember the goals you set should be related to that module’s study block!

Top Tip!

Set aside 5 minutes at the beginning of your block to write down some goals. Of course, if you don’t manage to complete them all, you can roll them over to the next study block for that module!


Assignment Planning

To manage your time most effectively, use the ‘plan backwards, work forwards' approach rather than gradually working towards deadlines and running out of time as you get closer to them.

The approach works as follows:

Step 1:

Plot all your assignment deadlines in a semester planner. Please see the below attached template you can use.  This planner can be very useful as it allows you to see all your assignment deadlines for every module on one page.


Step 2:

  1. Use an assignment planner for each assignment.
  2. For each assignment work backwards from your deadlines plot dates/times to work on assignments and say exactly what you are going to do for that assignment. Remember to use SMART targets!
  3. Make enough time to produce at least 2 drafts of each piece of work and/or to rehearse for any presentation; ideally your first draft should be completed one week before hand-in.
  4. Remember to have the final version of your assignments complete the day before the hand in date.
  5. Leave plenty of time for editing and proofreading. Lots of marks can be lost if you leave out  this step! 

Types of Planners

Overcoming Procrastination

Tips for avoiding distraction: 

  1. choose an appropriate study space (e.g. free from noise and social distractions.
  2. minimise possible interruptions. For instance, you could set your laptop to 'flight mode', turn-off or set-your phone to silent.
  3. use a timer for intensive studying. For example you could set a timer for 25 minutes followed by a 5 minute break - repeat 4 times and then have a longer break. This is known as the Pomodoro technique. There are many free 'pomodoro' apps and online timers available e.g.
  4. learn to say 'no'. Try to avoid taking on too many commitments.
  5. prioritise your 'to do list'. You could use a matrix to identify important and urgent tasks: Covey Time Management Matrix.docx
  6. set realistic goals for your study time.
  7. give yourself a reward when a goal is achieved.

Managing your Time and Independent Study

This workshop will provide you with strategies to organise your independent study time effectively and provide tips on how to set SMART goals for your independent study blocks. 

Academic Learning Development

Our services aim to help you improve your academic skills, offering workshops, one-to-one appointments, and other initiatives. The services are open to all students. Book your sessions via Engage.