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How to Manage Your Time as a Postgraduate Student

14 July 2021

As a postgraduate student, it’s important to manage your time effectively to ensure you complete your work by various deadlines. To help, UCL student Elle Ho gives her top tips.

Student at Laptop - How to Manage Your Time as a Postgraduate Student

1. Keep a planner 

I found something called bullet journaling online and it has been incredibly useful. 

You can use it to keep track of your deadlines, appointments, dates with friends, or to take note of good habits such as how much you exercised in one week.

I like how everything looks much more organised in a bullet journal and love how it's so customisable. 

You could keep it minimalist or let your creative juices flow and make it a little piece of art.  

Take a look at this blog post to help get you started.

2. Allocate your time

Designate certain hours of a day to study or attend classes. This will help you stay focused during this time without being easily distracted. 

To help, you can install certain programmes or websites which block social media sites on your computer and/or phone. Check out some suggestions.

It’s also important to allocate time during the week for yourself to enjoy your hobbies, socialise with friends or just take a break. 

Personally, I love running and use some of this time to go out and get some needed exercise.  

I’d recommend Regent's Park, which is only a 10-minute walk away from UCL. It also offers some of the best views of the London skyline from Primrose Hill. 

3. Prioritise your time 

To help use your time wisely, you should give various tasks different priorities and designate those tasks to timings whereby you feel the most productive. 
Block out your optimal working times for tasks which have the highest priority and have other tasks of less priority work around those timings. 

For me, I am usually the most productive in the morning and in the evening, so I try to reserve this time for the most important word.

My afternoons are usually spent doing any paid part-time work. As I teach Mandarin to school children, I usually set aside late afternoons to teach and spend the early afternoons getting coffee or meeting some friends. 

4. Set a time limit on tasks and plan ahead 

Designate a certain time frame to complete a certain task, for example 3-4 weeks for an essay. 

This helps with organisation and prevents you from thinking you have more time to complete a task than you do. 

I like to plan ahead as it allows me to get an idea of what I should expect instead of feeling clueless. 

I usually set aside some time on Sunday to review what I have to do for the upcoming week.

5. Get enough sleep

Having fewer hours of sleep means that you'd have less energy to complete the tasks you set out to do for the day.

Aim to have 7-8 hours of sleep per night to help you feel much more productive the next morning.

6. Set yourself goals 

Goals should be specific, achievable, and realistic. 

Don't just set one big goal such as ‘Complete Essay by 7/7/2021’ but also set smaller goals to achieve this big goal. 

For example, ‘Find references for Essay A by 4/6/21’ or ‘Finish introduction for Essay A by (insert date).’

After breaking down a big goal into smaller goals, ensure that these small goals are achievable within your means. 

For example, one recent big goal of mine is to finish my thesis. To help myself achieve this, I broke up my thesis into its respective sections and gave myself individual goals for those sections.

To lay it out, I create a table with ‘Section’, which highlights the small goal, ‘Things to do’, which sets out what I need to do to achieve that goal, and ‘Deadline’.

Photo by Avel Chuklanov on Unsplash