Time Management

How can I organise my time?

This page will discuss four main ways of organising time: breaking into steps, using time planners, making lists and prioritising.

Diagram of time management techniques.
Figure 1: Four ways to manage your time

1. Smaller bites

Think of an assignment as a series of steps. For example, writing often incorporates the following stages adapted from Godfrey (2011, p. 98):

  • 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.


Balance the time spent on different steps. Use the planner below to allocate time periods for stages of writing.

2. Timeplanners

Weekly planner

  • Start by putting in your usual weekly routine  i.e. taught lectures or work.
  • Colour coding can be assigned for different activities.
  • View the spaces left, and think about when you study best: morning, afternoon or evening.
Weekly time planner example with colour coding.
Figure 2: Example colour coded weekly planner

Termly planner

  • Another way of planning involves viewing the term ahead to see the bigger picture.
  • You can plot deadlines and consider tasks to complete in specific weeks.
Example of a term time planner.
Figure 3: Example term time planner

3. To do lists

  • Lists can be made daily, weekly or termly for whole assignments.
  • Remember to make targets SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time bound).
  • For instance, rather than setting a vague target (do research), you could aim to find one book on colour theory and take notes for an hour.
  • Tick or highlight an item once it is complete to help you track progress.
  • Try an app such as Remember the Milk to create digital lists.

Types of priority: now, soon or later.
Figure 4: System for prioritising

4. 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?


Eat the frog first: ‘your biggest, most important task’ (Tracey, 2017, p. 2)

5. Overcome procrastination

  • Procrastination is the act of postponing or delaying.
  • Stella Cottrell (2019, p. 28) recommends taking small steps, having an organised routine and rewarding yourself after reaching goals.
  • It also helps to be aware of your common distractions (such as television). See some tips about overcoming distractions from Learn Higher (2019)
  • Watch the short video from the University of Sheffield about overcoming procrastination.
Video about procrastionation

Resources consulted for this page:

  • Cottrell, S. (2019) 50 ways to manage time effectively. London: Red Globe Press.
  • 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).
  • Tracey, B. (2017) Eat that frog! 21 great ways to stop procrastinating and get more done in less time. Oakland, CA: Berrett-Koehler Publishers.
  • UWE (2020) Assignment planner. Available at: https://academicskills.uwe.ac.uk/general/workbooks/assignment-planner/12073/assignment-planner (Accessed: 06 February 2020).
  • Williams, K. and Reid, M. (2011) Time management. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Image to represent a list of eBooks.


Find out about managing time here: https://tinyurl.com/rzyz73k