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Time management tips and smarter ways to study

We look at practical tips and useful apps to help you manage your time more successfully.

Written by Lucy Bodenham |

Hourglass to manage study time
Use a reminder system to alert you to slots of time on specific tasks.

Start by breaking your day down to a set number of hours a day. Factor in all the things you do, work, family events, email, socialising and other tasks.

Note how much time each item occupies your schedule. From that you will be able to see how much time you can allow for study on a day by day basis.

The next thing is to build your study schedule. Choose an organisational tool that works for you – either a simple wall planner or schedule app like these two.

Fantastical [iOS] supports multiple languages and you can use speech to create reminders. Another app is CloudCal [android] - it uses a unique system of magic circles turning the days of the month into clock faces. Segments correspond to your tasks scheduled for the day and your meetings are arranged on an outer circle. The app presents you with a visual understanding of how much free time you have between everything else.

Once you have your planner sorted work backwards from your exams. Scope out how many study hours are possible to incorporate around your usual week. Your study guides are a good starting point and will help you plan your schedule.

How you work best and when your concentration is strongest are other factors to consider. Your best period is ideal to undertake the most demanding work first. If you have a lot of reading to prioritise, cover the most important sections first.

Look further ahead to set yourself study goals by the week and month, and stick to a timetable to achieve those. There will be points in your schedule you will need to change to allow for some extra time. Consider where you can free up more time – something like food shopping which you can do online and get delivered.

The following time tracking apps range from tracking hours or earning points for staying off your phone.

If you want to read faster, Spreeder will improve your reading time by up to three times faster than your normal rate.

Timelines - Great visual app for iOS which uses an interactive timeline to see where every minute goes!

Forest - To help you focus, and popular app with a conscience. You get points for staying off your phone and you can then use them to fund the planting of a tree. Available on iOS and Android.

Super notes – a unified app to help with taking notes, take photos of slides or make voice recordings of important reminders plus collaborate. You can organise everything by colour codes, search and sort categories.

Google Keep is among one of the best of Google’s apps and it is free with Google accounts. Simple in design and not just a note taker. Written notes, voice memos and pictures can be stored and organised with custom tags and categories. You could plan an exam session on and it can be assessed on multi devices.

Wunderlist – if you like lists, the free version is suited if you only want to organise yourself. This is cloud based to set timed reminders, assign tasks and leave comments. You are restricted to 25 assignees per shared list.

Use Pocket to save useful articles, videos and stories to read at the end of the day or in dead time when travelling.

Some final tips:

  • Use a reminder system to alert you to slots of time on specific tasks.
  • If you find it difficult to concentrate study in 40 minute sessions and earn a treat or reward.
  • Breaks are beneficial so aim to take a study break every 40-50 minutes.
  • Exercising between study sessions will invigorate you and help you study better.
  • Learn to say no and eliminate all distractions – use Freedom to restrict your web and social media access.
  • The quickest is to put your mobile on aeroplane mode.
  • Last and not least - stick to your routine!

Find out how your fellow students study and find encouragement amongst the Study tips section on our Official Student Blog.