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Greater independence as a learner means that when you study is largely up to you. However, it is important to get into a routine that suits you to make sure that you are making the most of your time. As an English student, you may have fewer timetabled hours of teaching than other subjects. This doesn't mean that your degree is easier than others; it means that you have to be disciplined and motivated to achieve. Whether you work best in the morning or the middle of the night, in short bursts or long stretches is up to you, as long as you are working well.

  • It might be useful to make a schedule or timetable, so that you can see where your teaching and leisure commitments are, and think about how best to use the time around them.
  • A weekly version of this timetable, whether a paper diary or electronic device such as your mobile phone or computer, will help you to manage tasks in a flexible way and see how your tasks are progressing.
  • Think of ways to make the most of odd bits of time, whether short spans between other commitments, or time when you are not normally at your best. Less intensive tasks like finding items on the reading list or typing up notes might be best done in these times.

Planning breaks

Breaks are important if you are to maintain a steady rate of work with optimum concentration and motivation. Many people view breaks as a reward for working, and, if they feel they have not achieved their aims in the allotted time, may not take a break as they feel they have not earned it. This impacts on their ability to work efficiently, making the problem worse. Breaks are not something you deserve, they are something you need, in order to make progress.

  • Short breaks should be factored in when you feel your concentration is fading. Observe your typical working pattern and notice your optimum length of study and when you should timetable a break, which may vary according to time of day and health. A short break might be as simple as a short walk, or making a cup of tea. It is also important to plan when breaks should end, as well as start, to avoid a break drifting off into another activity altogether. Breaks can be planned according to SMART principles, particularly those of Specific, Timebound and Measurable.
  • Longer breaks might be an afternoon or a day off. Even when revising, you will need some time away from your studies to relax and 'digest' your learning before returning to it. Look at your timetable and work commitments, and talk to your Director of Studies or other students about how long might be realistic for a weekly break.