‘I recommend colour-coding’: How to plan and manage your time at uni

31 Jul 2019
By Grace R., Student at Oxford Brookes University

Moving to university is probably your first taste of true independence, with complete freedom to do what you want, when you want to. I know from experience it can be difficult to find your feet and balance all the fun things with staying on top of your studies.

Fear not. I’ve had two years of trial and error with planning my time. And I’m sharing them with you here so you have one less thing to worry about at this exciting time of year.

Here are my top time-management tips for university students.

University is a marathon and not a 100m sprint.

1) Buy a weekly planner, one for your wall and one for your bag

Every Sunday evening, I spend some time writing down all my plans for the week ahead so I don’t have to worry about my plans during the week. I recommend colour coding so it’s easier to see where you need to go if you’re quickly rushing out of your room for that 9am you very nearly missed!

When writing all of your plans down on a week planner for your wall, prioritise lectures then shifts you may have at a job, sports practise, and anything else that is happening that week. Then, transfer all of the details into your diary and carry it with you everywhere. This is perfect when you forget what time your afternoon lecture is or if you can’t remember what time a party starts on the weekend!

2) Plan your meals for the week, even if you don’t batch-cook

Not everyone likes bulk-cooking for the week ahead, but a good middle ground is to at least plan what you’re going to eat. This way, you’ll save some money when food shopping as you’ll know exactly what you need. You’ll also save time in the evenings by not having to think of what to eat!

3) Set goals each day with what you want to have achieved

Each day, take five minutes to set up to five goals, things you’d like to have done for the end of the day. I like to write them in my diary, because it keeps me on target to meet my goals and focused on what I’m doing. You’ll find you take less time doing things as your time will be far more focused, with less time needed for on-the-go planning.

4) Make your study time count by removing distractions

When studying, remove as many distractions as possible so that your attention is solely focused on your studies. I’ve found the Forest app to be a huge help in doing this. You tell the app how long you want to study for and it plants a digital tree, which prevents notifications on your phone. If you use your phone during the time you’ve set, the tree dies.

I found myself studying uninterrupted in excess of six hours daily running up to exam season, which I know I wouldn’t have been able to do without the app.

5) Make sure you have time to relax and do what you want

University is a marathon and not a 100m sprint. So, although you need to dedicate time to study, make sure you also have time to relax and do the things you enjoy. University is considered by many to be the best years of their lives and this is due to the good work/life balance. Setting aside time to just relax will help you when you next need to focus!

University is all about finding a balance between work and play. It doesn’t have to be a perfect balance but, with these top tips that I have personally trialled, you’ll find the path to success in both your academic and social lives.

University is a marathon and not a 100m sprint.
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I am a current second year student at Oxford Brookes University studying Environmental Science BSc and have a keen interest in writing whilst also having a focus on the environment. I enjoy playing sports and being outdoors as much as possible (well when the weather is nice), whilst also taking time to develop and run my own social media pages for ThinkingForward which educates all about environmental issues and scientific articles.