Skills Hub

Planning your time

Find a system

The key to good planning is to have a simple system that you will actually use. There are some very good free mobile apps that you can use to stay organised.

Hours of study

If you are a full-time student, you should be spending about 40 hours a week on academic activities, including independent study, lectures, seminars, tutorials and lab work.

Allocate extra time

Remember - things usually take longer than you think! Be generous in your time allocation. If you find you don't need all the time you've allotted, it's extra free time.

Work/life balance

You shouldn't feel that you have to study all the time. If you study efficiently, you will have plenty of time for other activities.



Make a term plan

Try making a term plan to get a clear, visual overview of the time you have and the tasks you need to do. Put it somewhere you will see it every day, such as above your desk, or in a digital app such as OneNote. You can download a term plan template.

Draw up a table with a row for each week of term and columns for deadlines, targets and things to remember. At Sussex there are three terms and two assessment periods: check the Sussex website for term dates.

1. Work backwards: start by entering deadlines for your assignments so you can see when your busy times will be. Include seminars and presentations you need to prepare for.

2. In the Remember column, add any events such as family birthdays, social events, sports fixtures etc.

3. Decide on the major tasks for each of your deadlines, and roughly how long you need to spend on each. Build in some extra time. Prioritise according to marks each assignment is worth.

4. Fit the tasks into the Targets column, working back from the deadline.


Second-year Electrical and electronic engineering

View Tayo's student perspective


The main thing about studying engineering and bringing your social life to it as well is that you've got to plan yourself right. It's all about time management! You've got to think, ‘What do I need to do this week?' at the start of the week and look at what you've got.

Have a list, this is what I need to get through this week and think, ‘I'm going out this day, and doing this that time'. You've just got to plan yourself right. Think, 'if I'm going out this night I've got to finish this before I go out. If I don't finish it that means I'm not going out'. It's all about planning yourself right.


Second-year Maths

View Charlie's student perspective


I balance working and studying at university by working evenings, so it still gives me daytimes to do my studying and go to my lectures. When I started university I did 12 hours a week, which I found too much. I found that my studying was suffering so I cut down to 8 hours a week at work.


Second-year Electrical and electronic engineering

View Aron's student perspective


An average week is between 20 to 25 hours study time and we are expected to make it up to 40 hours a week with homework and various assignments. So any extra time I have I'm a lifeguard at a local swimming pool.

The plan for one short essay might look like this:

Example essay plan with weeks and tasks outlined

Remember that this is only for one essay - you will need to fit in all your other work too.

Make a weekly timetable

If you make a weekly timetable, you won't need to spend time each day deciding when to study. Make a paper timetable or use an online diary or task management app (see below) - whatever works best for you.

• Enter lectures, seminars and other fixed academic commitments. Check Sussex Direct for your teaching timetable.

• Add times that you will commit to study sessions. In busy weeks, you'll need to include more sessions.

• Add regular commitments such as paid work, club meetings, sports fixtures and training.

• Plan to be flexible - if something comes up, you can swap a study session with a free session.

See examples of weekly student timetables and download a weekly timetable template.

Give yourself extra time by setting your own essay deadlines a week before they are due. Then you will have time to edit and check your work before submitting it.

Task management apps

There are many mobile apps that can help you keep track of your commitments. For example, Wunderlist lets you:

• Create lists, tasks, checklists and reminders
• Attach files, notes and comments
• Sync across all your devices
• Sort by list, day, priority etc.
• Share lists and tasks

It is available as a mobile app and online so you can access it from any device. With multiple separate lists, you can organise all the areas of your life in one place and get reminders and push notifications. If you are organising a group project, sharing a list can be a really useful way to keep on top of multiple tasks.

Here are some other task management apps you might like:
• Remember the Milk
• Todoist
• Trello


Print Friendly and PDF