Writing for Students: managing your time? Boring but beautiful

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Striking that right balance between having the time of your life and knuckling down to get some kind of decent grade at the end of your course is perhaps one of the hardest things to get right at Uni.

No-one struggled more with finding this happy medium of higher education than I did: if I could find an excuse not to study and actually start writing essays, I would jump on it like a like a pogo stick master jumps on a pogo stick. You probably don’t even know what a pogo stick is, do you? Kids these days…

Somehow though, in the end I managed to get done what I needed to get done. All the drinking, all the parties, all the fun stuff basically, ultimately didn’t get in the way of me doing that thing that Uni is kind of all about. You know the thing. Books and long words and stuff.

Anyway, if I could eventually get the balance right, then so can you, but to help out a bit, here a few tricks I learnt along the way.

Make a schedule

BORING. Yeah I know, really dull stuff. Spreadsheets and timetables and calendars. Yawn indeed.

As dull as it is though, making a schedule of all the work you need to get done in say a week, month or term is a pretty useful thing to do. It’s like going to the gym or eating a salad once in a while. No one likes doing it, but it’s good for you.

At the beginning of whatever set amount of time, scan through and pick out all the necessary tasks you need to get done, begin estimating how long each thing will take and plan out when and how you’ll do them accordingly.

Having that to-do list hanging over you (sometimes it’s literally worth hanging it over you – tape it to your ceiling above your bed so it’s the first thing you see in the morning and last thing at night) will often be enough to goad you into doing that particular horrible essay that you keep putting off because…well just because it’s in your face.

Make sacrifices

Not of the Mayan variety; I don’t want any blood on my hands here. The sort of sacrifices I’m talking about are skipping the post-lecture pub visit or the occasional society trip to the cheapest, dirtiest of all the clubs in town.

You might not want to do that. Fair enough, but the thing is as an adult, you’re sometimes going to have to do things you don’t want to do. Rather than throwing a tantrum and stomping your feet like a teenager (no offence if you’re still a teenager), suck it up and get on with it.

You might get a bad case of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) but you’ll be the one jumping for joy (like a pogo stick master) on results day.


What an earth is pre-planning I hear you ask? Surely that’s a tautological inconsistency the likes of which no graduate should be spouting. Well, maybe a bit.

Pre-planning is my somewhat management-speak-y way of saying, prepare yourself before you even start thinking about actually sitting down to work.

Instead of getting to your laptop a day before the deadline of an essay, only to realise you’re missing the set text or printer ink or coffee (seriously, no coffee? What kind of student are you?), get everything together hours, days or preferably weeks in advance.

Not only does this prevent the dreaded last-minute rush to the deadline that I talked about last week, it also means you’ll be able to spend less time actually sitting down and doing the thing. All those little distractions add up, so do yourself a favour and give things a bit of forethought.

Get ahead of the game

There really is no better feeling than getting an essay done ahead of schedule. Okay that’s a lie, I can think of at least 17 feelings that are better. But the truth is…no wait 18 feelings:  you’ve got to love a good hearty sneeze.

Regardless, the 19th best feeling on the planet is one that you should be aiming for as much as possible while at Uni. Why? Because the sooner the work gets done, the sooner you can PARTAAYYY!!! Woooh!!!

Ahem. Sorry about that. Got a bit nostalgic there. Seriously though, getting it out of the way means less worrying, more fun. Why do it any other way?

So there we are; time management tips from a self-confessed time-waster. Stranger things have happened I suppose.

Next time, I’ll be looking at making the most of the resources available to you. Until then, stay classy, students.

Jackson Rawlings on HowToWriteBetter.net

Jackson Rawlings

Until next time, I’ve been Jackson. Stay classy, students.


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