College Life Editor Sarah O'Brien is back to the rescue with some time management tips.

Your time is valuable and knowing how to manage it effectively is one of most crucial skills you’ll learn at college. Good time management skills are vital to reducing and managing things like exam stress, while maximising productivity and efficiency. Remember the goal here is to work smarter not harder.


Between lectures, readings and sneaky mid-term deadlines, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed with the sheer volume of work to be done. Stepping back from the situation, so that you might gain a bit of perspective, can work wonders for stress alleviation. A good night’s sleep never went astray either - sometimes all that’s needed is 8 hours rest to recharge the old batteries.


If after that you’re still feeling suffocated by your workload, you’re probably in need of a time management boot camp. With that in mind, here are 5 ways you can maximise your time while still allowing for the occasional Netflix Binge.


Avoid Procrastination

There will always be an app (or several) waiting in the wings to whisk you away to procrastination central. For me it was Facebook, then Twitter and now Netflix. The chatter on social media about Pablo (T)escobar’s Narcos antics certainly doesn’t help, but you have to stay strong. Ask yourself why you even want to procrastinate in the first place-you might be surprised at the answer. If getting that essay started is what’s fazing you, don’t be afraid to ask your university’s writing centre for a helping hand. Just know that procrastination is something to be avoided like the plague (oh the irony!) because it will cost you dearly come exam time.


Create a Semester Work Plan

Organisation is key to any successful time management system. Create a semester coursework plan complete with key dates, deadlines and assignment percentages. Your module outlines (usually given at the beginning of the semester) will be immensely helpful in compiling this data. Make sure to leave space in your work plan to schedule both study and free time. Put your organiser somewhere visible and check in with it regularly. Of course the beauty of having a visual representation of your coursework is that you’ll also quell the insidious voice in your head telling you that you’ve forgotten to do something important.


Set Weekly Goals

Take a few minutes every week to assess your goals for the days ahead. Write down a specific list of things you want to accomplish and stick to it insofar as is reasonable. By looking at both long and short-term assignments and breaking them down into bitesize tasks, you’ll make life much easier on yourself. Imagine the sense of accomplishment you’ll feel when you tick off your completed tasks! A good old fashioned to-do list will never steer you wrong. While it is important to keep your focus and meet your weekly goals, you also need to know when to be flexible and how to recognize the difference between urgent and important.


Avoid Multitasking

Avoid multitasking unless it is absolutely necessary. Give whatever task you’re working on your undivided attention and you’re guaranteed to do a better job. Don’t make the mistake of equating busyness with productiveness - they are not one and the same. There’s a sneaky offshoot of multitasking I like to call ‘productive procrastination’. This happens when students do any and every bit of work other than the most pressing coursework. Productive procrastination has all the hallmarkings of procrastination under a very thin veneer of ‘work’.


Prioritize Your Coursework:

With the best will in the world, sometimes we just can’t stick to our study plans. If that’s the case (or you’ve completely ignored steps 1 through 4) you’ll need to learn how to prioritize your coursework and fast. If you’re working to a tight deadline and have multiple assignments due, figure out which ones give the most ROI (Return on Investment) and do those first. Learning how to maximise your marks, particularly if you’re short on time, will soften the blow to your QCA. Obviously this is a time management tip we hope you won’t have need for (much at least), but it’s always good to have a trick up your sleeve when you’re down to the wire.