Professional man facing a wall of clocks

When starting university, one of the biggest challenges that most students struggle with is managing their time. It's Freshers' week now, but before you know it exams will be round the corner, so crafting a proper personal timetable early that balances your social life and studies is crucial.

Why should you bother with a personal timetable?

How you choose to spend your time at uni can make the difference between success and failure in your academic career. You don't want to fall behind in work, but at the same time you want to be able to socialise, work and enjoy your extra-curricular activities. Furthermore, research has shown that setting priorities go a long way in ensuring that you remain on course with your studies and face your exams prepared. And by doing so you experience reduced stress, a factor that determines your success throughout the course of university life.

This article will discuss ten guidelines that would go a mile in helping you achieve success and excellence through proper time management.

1. Define What To Do

Create a list of all the tasks you are required to accomplish within the academic year. Tasks may include semester deadlines as well as other activities that may affect your schedule, such as exams and coursework hand-in days. You may think that knowing your key dates is obvious but many students fail to note the magnitude of this particular method. Failure to follow this measure leads students to forget certain responsibilities or they end up doing last minute revision or essay writing, something that diminishes your quality of work and in turn grades.

2. Formulate a Life Schedule

The easiest way to formulate a schedule is to use something to record you life, whether it's an app, a phone calendar, or a diary. Understand when you are most alert, be it early morning or late at night, and fix your study and revision time along these times. Set time for socialising and also get the required amount of sleep. The majority of students today sleep for four hours or less spending most of their nights out, however the average adult should sleep for seven to eight hours. Imagine the toll such sleep patterns have on a student’s body – from partying till late to tackling complex subjects such as calculus the next day!

3. Be Flexible and Realistic

As a student, you probably have a lot of assignments alongside duties to handle, such as a part-time job. Set aside eight to ten hours a day for studying, working, meeting up with friends and everything else that you may choose to undertake. It's likely that you'll need around thirty hours in a week for university work, and depending how long your lectures, tutorials, labs and seminars add up to, spend the rest of the time on personal study. 

Understand that sometimes tasks may end up taking more time to complete than you thought. Others, you can do well in a short amount of time. Ensure that you allocate enough time for each task. 

4. Avoid Repeating Routines by Taking Time in Planning

As a student, so as to establish good time management, it’s crucial to think of and craft an appropriate working pattern. Give yourself enough time to process new learning material and decide on how best to apply it. This will ensure that you avoid repeating already accomplished tasks and research. A good way to achieve this feat is by crafting a list of the things you want to deliberate on, and then continue to make short notes below each heading as you proceed.

A close up of an empty diary with timed days

Get a bit of organisation into your life with a paper or online calendar. Image credit: photosteve101/flickr

5. Be Wary of Distractions and Avoid Procrastinating

As a scholar, you should identify the learning time that works best for you alongside your learning style, and discover when you are most alert and focused. It is important here to understand that what works for you does not necessarily work for another individual. Some learners prefer to read alone, while others enjoy study groups. Similarly, some students may study well during the day, while others prefer early morning study sessions when their brains are still ‘fresh.’

6. Exercise Frequently to Enhance Your Concentration

Throughout my education life, I realised that most people do not like to do any physical activities especially as exams loom. Many students end up locking themselves in their rooms or are regularly in the library, while others join study groups. Very few are seen in the field jogging, stretching, or engaging in any sporting activity. However exercise, like sleep, has consistently been shown to help maintain high levels of concentration and master of content.

7. Determine the Effectiveness of Your Action Plan

As a student, it’s important to continually review your schedule to see which areas are working and which require adjustments. Doing so, you will ease your life in university, and create a more conducive learning environment. You will also get more time to interact with friends and family members, and eventually, it would propel you to higher grades in the future. 

8. Be Yourself 

In a shocking turn of events, most students fail to grasp the magnitude of the life that comes their way. Once they join the university, they get lost in a maze of late night parties (as earlier mentioned) and absconding from class thereby getting derailed in their course work. As a scholar, you should remain genuine and steadfast to your tasks and responsibilities as this form the core principles of your school work. Make the right kind of friends who impact positively on your life.

9. Take Notes during Lectures

The level of concentration among most students during lectures is at an all-time low. A good number of students will be found talking to friends or engaging in games on their phones. One way to avoid this temptation and to help you focus is to write notes during the lecture. As lots of unis give their lecture notes out in advance you might want to print them out and annotate them in the lecture. Eventually, you’ll have a sound basis of content within you making it easier to complete assignments and prepare for your exams.

10. Be Assertive

As a student, it is mandatory to know when to say no when the answer is no, and when to say yes when the answer is yes. For example, if your friends are going out for drinks, and invite you to accompany them, don’t accept unless you have accomplished all the work you told yourself you'd do that day. It is a sign of intelligence to set your priorities right and to know the best time to engage in fun activities.


The life of a student is usually full of many challenges and hurdles. However, by following these guidelines, students everywhere will uncover the reality that they are the ones responsible for complicating their lives. Remember that education is only a process that all individuals are required to go through since the world is in dire need of professionals and experts. Therefore, as a student with a dream and prospects, remain firm and astute to your goals and aspirations. Success is for those who manage to stay focused until the end. Stay focused!