Time Management

Find information on:

  • Breaking tasks into steps
  • Time planners
  • To do lists
  • Prioritising tasks
  • Overcoming procrastination video


How can I organise time?


1. Smaller bites

Try to think of an assignment as a series of steps. For example, essays often have the following steps:

  • Understand: look at the assignment brief and title.
  • Rough Plan: write down initial thoughts.
  • Research: read and take notes.
  • Detailed Plan: list topics for paragraphs.
  • 1st draft: develop thoughts.
  • Additional drafts: write introduction/conclusion; check against plan and title.
  • Steps adapted from Godfrey (2011, p. 98).


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Tip: Balance the time spent on different steps. For instance, it is common to spend too much time researching, which leads to having limited time for writing. You can always return to researching if you notice gaps in your evidence.


2. Time planners

  • Try using our weekly time planner (shown below).
  • Colour coding can be assigned for different activities.
  • Start by putting in your usual weekly routine  i.e. taught lectures, work or exercise classes.
  • View the spaces left, and think about when you study best: morning, afternoon or evening.

3. Termly planners

  • Another way of planning is by viewing the term ahead to see the bigger picture.
  • Use our Term Time Planner to set weekly targets.
  • You can use it to plot deadlines and consider different tasks to complete in specific weeks.


4. To do lists

  • ‘To do’ lists can be made for whole assignments, or you can make daily or weekly ones. Try using our to do template.
  • Remember to make your targets SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time bound).
  • For example, a goal for one study session could be to ‘Take notes on one chapter of a book about semiotics.’
  • When writing, you could aim to ‘Write two paragraphs for Chapter Two of the research report.’
  • Ticking an item once it is complete can help you to track progress.


5. Prioritise

  • It can help to prioritise your actions and lists.
  • You can use a traffic light system of red (high importance), amber (moderate importance) and green (low importance).
  • Another way of prioritising is by labelling tasks as now, soon or later (Williams and Reid, 2011).
  • Ask: How critical is this?

6. Overcome procrastination

Watch the short video from the University of Sheffield to get tips on how to get started.


Study Skills Toolkit
Use technology to aid your time management. For example, Outlook has a calendar section. Apps can also help; one for creating colour coded lists is Remember the Milk. See also our weekly time planner, term time planner and to do documents mentioned above.

E-book resources 

Try these e-books available from Ebook Central:https://tinyurl.com/rzyz73k

The following texts were consulted for this page:

  • Godfrey, J. (2011) Writing for university. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Learn Higher (no date) Planning timetables and schedules. Available at: http://www.learnhigher.ac.uk/learning-at-university/time-management/planning-timetables-and-schedules/ (Accessed: 1 March 2019).
  • Williams, K. and Reid, M. (2011) Time management. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.