Top 6 Tips for Students: How to Manage Time in University!
First year of university can be a blast, and is supposed to be the time when you make connections, friends for life, and unforgettable memories. But when those exams come around at the end of the year, you’ll be glad for these tips on how to keep on top of your work and also have an epic first year!
For most universities, the first year is there to help you find your feet and learn to live on your own (which means cooking, cleaning and washing your own clothes) as well as finding your own rhythm of what you want to study in life. While partying with friends and 5am pizza deliveries on late nights are a big part of it, the tone you set on how you manage your time will start to define how you tackle any piece of work given to you even later in life. To help you build the best building blocks of great time management practices, read on for Millie’s tips on time management in university!
Tip #1 - Consistent work pays off
“Complete work when it gets assigned and don’t allow it to pile up!”
- Leaving work until the last minute - this is one of the biggest mistakes we see students make. While it seems like exams are far distant things, trust us, they will come sooner than you think, and you will thank yourself so much if you’ve kept on top of your work consistently throughout the year.
- No all-nighters - By staying on top of work, not only are you not one of those students pulling all nighters in the library trying to learn 10 weeks of content days before the exam (and yes, some of us have been there ourselves), but you can also have more fun every week and during exams by simply planning your work better.
- Not-so-secret tip: complete work when it gets assigned and don’t allow it to pile up! When you have weeks worth of content to get through, you’ll be much less inclined to get started, and it will only snowball into a daunting term’s worth of examinable content.
- Keep a to-do list or study journal - this can be a great way to plan your time and ensure you’re keeping on top of everything. This way, you can perhaps work Mondays to Fridays and keep weekends free to take a well-deserved break from work!
Check out these Five StudyTubers You Should Be Watching for more tips on staying on top of your work.
Tip #2 - Find your productive time
Some people are early birds and others are night owls. Whichever category you fall under, manage your time accordingly. If you tend to work better in the mornings, then take the plunge and set your alarm for 7am to make sure you make the most of your productive hours. Or if you work best into the night, then make sure you leave the evenings free to study and max on your productivity.
While it can be tiring and even demotivating to be studying when your friends are out having fun, taking time to study when you are most productive will serve you well when it comes to the exam revision grind. Find your learning style and when you work best, and actually do the work; don’t take the easy (and admittedly tempting) path of going out when your friends are free and not thinking about when you will actually be able to work best.
“Some people are early birds and others are night owls, manage your time accordingly”
Tip #3 - Cheat sheets and Revision Notes
Hopefully assuming you’ve followed these tips to regularly stay on top of your work and make the most of your day, you’ll have good notes made on lecture material. When it comes closer to exams however, especially if they’re open book and you can refer to notes, you’ll want to have concise and tidy notes on the specific things you’ll need to know, without a lot of the ‘fluff’ that gets added in when listening to hours upon hours of lectures. That’s why ‘cheat sheets’ and formula sheets will be a LIFE SAVER.
Oh, to clarify, cheat sheets are NOT for cheating, instead they are page length summaries of your revision notes that contain the key points you’ll want to memorise for the exam. Think of it as if you were allowed to take in just one piece of paper into the exam, what would you put on it? Cheat sheets are great ways to revise by rewriting your notes (even by memory if you really want to test yourself!) in a concise way that is easy to refer to in the last stretch before the finish line of the exam.
For equation-heavy modules, keep a formula sheet that you regularly update based on each week’s lecture material. That way by the time it comes to exams, you’ll already have a concise formula sheet to refer to during or skim through before exams, depending on whether they are open or closed book.
Flipping through pages and pages of haphazard notes is never fun, so whip out your coloured pens, pastel highlighters, and anything else you have to make the perfect notes. Remember: cheat sheets and formula sheets are worth the extra work!
Tip #4 - Study in groups and spread the love (or exam tears!)
This is one that works for some and does not for others (although you should always try it at least once, you may be pleasantly surprised). Study groups, when done correctly, can be great ways to prep for your exams and manage your time in a way that doesn’t feel like studying but is also productive. Of course, choosing the right group of people that will help you to study and not distract you is key (and c’mon, you know which friends you’ll actually study with or just ‘study’ with). One way to manage your time is to finish making revision notes and cheat sheets in your own time, and then go through past papers as a group where you can bounce ideas off each other and gather different perspectives for tackling essay questions or tricky calculations. Also, panicking about exams together is sooo much better than panicking alone!
“Choosing the right group of people that will help you to study and not distract you is key”
Tip #5 - Health is KEY
Just as it’s important to keep both physically and mentally healthy in high school, the same applies for university. While you are at university to study, make sure you keep time for going outside, eating healthy meals, and exercising regularly. If you manage your time well, trust us, they are all possible. Whether that means waking up early to go to the gym, or bulk cooking and then freezing food over the weekend for late study days, make sure you keep time for your health.
After all, you won’t be able to do any studying if you’re not functioning at your best! So stay away from ready meals as much as possible, keep time to walk around outside for a bit each day, and get active regularly. We guarantee you, it’ll be worth it and you’ll come back to studying so much fresher!
Tip #6 - Always keep time for fun!
Our last tip, which is equally important as the rest, is to keep time for fun. Whether that means going out with friends, watching a movie together, or just curling up with a good netflix show in bed, taking time for yourself is a must. For most degrees, the first year of university does not count towards your final degree grade. While this is NOT an invitation to not study as your grades still appear on your transcript, it does mean that first year has a bit of leeway to have fun while studying.
When you get to second and third year, studying will have to take the absolute priority, so while you can, make the most of the luxury of first year and the relatively low stress that comes with it. If you manage your study time well with the above tips, you’ll have more than enough time to hang out with friends and make those unforgettable memories that typify university life! See Millie’s Guide on the Most Fun UK Student Cities to see what you could get up to in your well-deserved free time!
Don’t overstress about your first year of university; after all, you’re still finding your feet and getting to grips with living on your own. Keep up regular study and review of your lecture material so that exams don’t hit you unprepared, but also take some ‘me time’ and have some fun!
While everyone studies in different ways and there is no one correct time management plan, following the above tips can help you find the ways that suit you best to manage your time and make space for everything that first year has to offer. To plan your next steps, sign yourself up for a free consultation.