Taking an organised approach to your studies can save you time in the long run. Here are some helpful suggestions for getting organised:
- Study diary - Keep a diary for university work and note your teaching sessions and deadlines. Put in dates as soon as you receive them.
- Stay informed - The University provides vital information about your teaching timetable, so check regularly for updates. To find out about the communication methods you should use, see Communication at Sussex.
- Filing system - Set up a filing system at the start of term. You could use a box folder for each module for lecture notes, handouts, notes from reading and photocopies. Alternatively, use a digital tool for making and organising materials. OneNote and Evernote are are good options that sync your notes across devices. If you want to store handouts digitally, try CamScanner to turn your phone into a scanner.
- Contacts - Keep a list of important university phone numbers, e.g. the Library, school office.
- Back up - Always make copies of important files online or on a USB stick.
- Term plan - Write a term plan to get a visual overview of your commitments. For more advice and downloadable planning templates, see Planning your time.
- Timetable - Schedule your study times by writing a weekly timetable. This will help you to allocate specific times for studying. For tips on study timetables, see Planning your time.
Third-year English literature
The way I organise my time and try and get things done, well the way I've developed over uni because I've discovered through a process of trial and error, through a period of not getting anything done and of being really disorganised.
But since third year started I've been a bit more organised and one of the main things that's helped me is setting myself little targets. I've also started writing to-do lists, which is more of a general thing like ‘phone the bank' or ‘read that book' or something like that, and they help. I've started using the diary in my phone, which helps me.
But I'd say the main thing is, not coming from a person who's super organised, but the main thing that helps me is targets, little bite size targets - working out what you've got to do before you get there and especially, with essays, thinking what would be a comfortable amount of words to write every day. And then, how many days/weeks do I need to leave myself to do that.
And in fact one last thing, that I'm going to start doing this year, is planning, trying to pretend in my head that the essay deadlines are a week before when they actually are so that my plan doesn't go right up to the last ten minutes of the deadline - which has happened sometimes, and it's so stressful and it's frustrating because you don't get the best out of yourself.
Third-year Physics with Management
I tend to work for about ten hours a day, so that is about 40 to 45 hours a week. My course is very structured and we have about 18 to 20 contact hours, which means we get a lot of support, but we also have to do a lot of independent studies around those courses.
So I come to university at nine o'clock most of the time and I leave at about six or seven at the earliest. And sometimes I'll do some extra work at the weekends.
However, it isn't like straight studying. We tend to study in groups, so it's a lot of fun involved as well.
You have your breaks, you play football in between. You can go to the gym for an hour, which is on campus - there are two gyms on campus. So there are a lot of breaks in between, or you can just go and see your lecturer.
And our department provides us with a study area and where we can just sit and have a chat. We have our own kitchen, so basically they provide us with everything we need for the whole day. So people are always around, so you just sit down and other people will work on the same problem.
So there are always people around. It's not timetabled - where we say OK we meet at 12 and we'll leave at 1. Basically everyone is always around, always in our department or in the library and then you just sit together and end up working together - that's how it mainly works.
In terms of time management, it is a case of working hard and playing hard especially as a chemist I think. You do have a lot of reports to hand in and you do have work that's due in, you have deadlines probably every week, it's not just an end of term essay like a lot of other subjects are.
So for me I learnt quite quickly that leaving everything till the last minute really isn't the right way to go. Not only do you find that you can't go out and do things that you want to do but you also find that you struggle towards the end. So taking your time, knowing what's due in and when it's due in, and making sure that you do a little bit each day and get towards the deadline is the best way to manage your time.
When you go into the lab for the first time it's really vital that you make sure you're organised and that you know what you're doing. You go in with a lab script and it's got instructions about things that you need to do.
Sometimes you'll not be sure what they are and you'll have to ask for help as you go along, but if you've read stuff and if you make sure that if you've got four hours to make something, if you know what you're doing in each half step and you've read through all the instructions - well, then you can manage your time and get to your end product in the right time.
Second-year Electronics and Electrical Engineering
To get yourself organised you need to make sure you know when assignments are coming so you can get the rest of your work, your homework, done.