Procrastination and time management

Learning to manage your time is essential to making it through uni with your sanity intact. Isn’t it always the way that all of your assignments are due at once? And right before exams? At least it can seem that way if you leave everything to the last minute.

Working out how to plan your studies, being sure to give yourself enough time for each task, plus some well-deserved down time, is key to making it gracefully through each year. With some clever planning, you’ll be amazed at the feeling of satisfaction that comes with knowing you have truly done your best because you have given yourself enough time to get things done.

This guide offers some practical suggestions to help you manage your time and workload, and deal with the beast that is procrastination.

Planning your studies

At the beginning of each study period, sit down to plan your studies. It’s probably a good idea to do this after your first week of classes, since that is where you will find out about due dates. Remind yourself how much time you need to spend on each course. Remember, if your course has 3 contact hours then you may be expected to study up to an extra 8 hours on that course per week. 

Study period planner

Step one in any study period plan is to take note of when your assessment are due. You’ll also want to mark down when to start working on each assessment, making sure to spread your workload across the study period. An easy way to map your commitments is to use a half yearly or study period planner. Be sure to mark in:

  • the due dates for all your assessment tasks, including the value of each toward the final grade and the word limit (colour coding each course can be helpful)
  • any major social or work activities

Next and most importantly put your planner in a visible place, so you are regularly reminded of what is coming up.

Weekly planner

Using a weekly planner is a good way to maintain a realistic view of your commitments for the week, balance uni work with the rest of your life, and make sure you don’t forget anything important. Mark in all regular weekly activities including:

  • university commitments (classes and tasks)
  • work commitments
  • sporting, social and family commitments
  • plus don’t forget to allow for travel and meal times

Remember to allow some unscheduled time so you can swap things around or accommodate unforeseen events. You might also consider identifying times when study will have the highest priority and let your family and friends know you are unavailable at these times.

Next see where you can fit in non-contact study. Remember your program needs to be realistic for it to work. You may like to consider factors such as:

  • how do you work best—in short bursts or over a long stretch of time?
  • do you study better in the morning or late at night?
  • do you need a quiet place to study?
  • can you study at home or do you need to travel to the library?

If you do not have enough hours in the day, maybe you are expecting too much of yourself or have overcommitted. If so, you may need to reduce, postpone or give up an activity to re-allocate this time to study.

Dealing with procrastination

Of course, having a good study plan is one thing. Sticking to it is another. Don’t we all know that dreaded feeling of procrastination? It goes without saying that procrastination is counterproductive. A little procrastination may not matter too much, but when it leaves you feeling discouraged and overburdened, it is time to take action.

Part of your procrastination may be due to lack of motivation, so be sure to check out our resources on this important subject.

Strategies to avoid procrastination

  • Set realistic goals
  • Make study a priority by creating a place where you can study without distractions
  • Create a schedule or lists
  • Break big tasks into smaller pieces
  • Start with something easy if you like; just start
  • Take regular breaks. Note the word ‘regular’!
  • Use instant rewards to acknowledge your achievements
  • Focus your thoughts to the present, rather than the past and future
  • Just do it!