Managing Your Workload: A Two Step Guide

By Melanie Ashton.

It is a fact universally acknowledged that the end of every term brings a mountain of extra work. Not only do you have to keep up with the reading you are set every week for lectures and seminars, but you also have to find the time to write four essays that are all due in the same week. This is very daunting, and everyone has a different way of dealing with it: some people like to bury their heads in the sand and pretend that the essential reading and essays don’t apply to them; others spend 12 hours a day in the library reading, re-reading and re-writing their notes. Personally, I like to find the happy medium. The easiest way to do this is by making a ‘plan of action’ so that you have a focus for each day; this way you will know that everything will get done on time.

Step 1: Write everything down that is due in the next week

The first thing I always do is grab a piece of paper and split it into however many modules I’m taking. Then I write down all the things I need to do for each one, checking Moodle and ORB for anything I may have missed. I then write the dates these all must be done and how long I think it will take me. Unfortunately for me this year all my lectures except one fall on the same day, so I can’t spread my work out as much as I’d like to but usually you will have different work set for different days. This helps to prioritise what you need to get done first and what you can leave until later. For example, I have a lecture and a class for the same module on the same day so I need to prioritise the reading assigned for that, whereas I can get through the other lectures not having quite finished the book because anything I don’t understand I can ask in the class which comes later in the week.

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Photo credit: Melanie Ashton

    Step 2: Plan everything into your week

After you’ve done this you’ll have a good idea of how you can start planning your week. I usually do this part on a Wednesday or a Thursday as I have Fridays off but you can choose whatever day works well with your timetable. As you can see there are some things I spread over a few days, simply because you can’t really expect to read an entire Jane Austen novel in an afternoon and still be sane at the end of the day! A good tip is to plan to do less than you think is possible; you’ll feel much better for getting everything done early and moving onto something for the next day than you will if you’ve tried to pack too much in and frantically rush through the work, or leave things left over. As well as this, if one day you’re ill or your friend calls and wants to meet for a coffee, you have room to fit things in later in the week. It is also worth mentioning, although it may seem obvious, you need to take into consideration your other commitments throughout the week such as part time work, societies, or the mornings after heavy nights out!

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Photo credit: Melanie Ashton.

So there you have it! A guide to fitting everything in and feeling much more organised. With the huge influx of extra work that came with second year this really has come in handy for me. It is so calming to have your week already planned so you can just focus on 24 hours at a time. This in turn makes you more productive as you are less overwhelmed by all the other things that are due, and you know everything will be completed in plenty of time.

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