One of the first differences you will notice at University is that you have lots of freedom to make your own schedule. This is especially true of Humanities students, where you will usually be working on your own without close daily direction and no compulsory activities except to attend your supervisions. Nobody is going to take a roll call at lectures to make sure you attend (except in Papers not supported by supervisions).
That sounds like a wonderful freedom at first, and is very different from what you probably experienced at school. But this freedom can lead to problems such as:
- leaving work until just before the deadline and then rushing it (so that your performance is not a good representation of your skill)
- having several pieces of work to do at the same time
- feeling as though your social life and your academic work are competing
There are several things you can do to keep on top of your work and schedule:
- Occasionally, take the time to write down exactly where your time goes. Include traveling to and from College and lectures, time spent in the library finding books and papers, time spent shopping, time spent chatting with friends, the time you spend planning your next piece of work and so on. If you write down everything you do in a day, you might be surprised to find what you fit into 24 hours - and where you can perhaps rationalise your time.
- Be vigilant. Keep an eye on how much time you are spending on different activities
- Be structured. Buy (or make) a diary and schedule in your supervisions, essay and other deadlines and then work backwards from these, scheduling in time to read, plan and write.
- Dedicate blocks of time to work. It is much easier to spend a few solid hours on working and allow yourself to 'get into it' than 30 minutes here and 40 minutes there; doing this can often break your concentration and mean that you are starting from scratch each time.
- Don't fritter your time away! We all procrastinate, but does your room really need tidying again? Do you really have to do your washing now?
- Track down journals and books at the library in batches rather than one at a time - this can save you lots of time, and also means you have all the resources you need at the same time.
- Work out where you work best - in your room (or do you have too many distractions there?). In the library? (don't forget to factor in travel time to and from libraries).