I know when I first started university I really struggled with keeping up with my timetable each week – it changed! I generally had very few changes, but even those threw me and until I got myself organised I quite often found myself rubbing shoulders in a History lecture (for those that don’t know, I study Maths…). I wish I’d had this post by Loretta from The University Project to help organise me! I hope its helpful for you:
At sixth form my timetable varied on a fortnightly basis as in I had a Week A and a Week B but when I got to University I thought that I would end up with a nice weekly timetable as some of my friends had. Boy was I wrong my timetable is different from one week to the next and some weeks I can have just 4 hours of lectures whereas the next I can have up to 30 hours. This made developing a routine very difficult and it was something that I really struggled with during my first year at University but I feel like I got the hang of it much better in my second year.
I don’t know if it is the same for all Universities but I generally have about 2-4 weeks to complete most of my assignments and generally I know when all of my midterm exams are at the start of the semester. I often find myself tempted to put off doing work until the next week but my timetable means that sometimes this is the best option if say the following week I have a low hour week and will have a good day or so to focus solidly on my work. However if the week of the deadline is a high hour week then putting off my assignments to this week generally leads to high stress levels and me not completing my work to the best of my ability.
So here are my tips that I have come up with for combatting the demands of a varying timetable:
- Have a diary. I am an avid believer in having some form of organiser to keep me on track and I am very rarely seen without my Filofax but you don’t necessarily have to have a paper based diary and I have a lot of friends at University who swear by Google Calendar as you can still colour code events as well as having the option to get reminders sent directly to your inbox or smartphone so you never accidentally miss a deadline.
- Get into a routine. This is perhaps the most painful thing to develop and it took me a good month to get into my routine but even on days when I don’t have 9am lectures, or any lectures at all I still set my alarm for 7.30am and try to get up and ready as though I did have an early lecture to go to so that I start working early on in the day.
- Make the most of your Library. This might just be me and my lack of self-control but I find that I am much more likely to focus and do my work if I make the effort to go to the library rather than staying in my room all day where the draw of my bed and Netflix is often too tempting! On my low hour weeks I often have at least one day which is completely free and I try to spend this in the Library so I can either get a head start on next week if it is heavy hour week or play catch up if I have had a few heavy hour weeks in a row!
Like I said it took me most of first year to get into a good routine and even now I still have days where I am completely unproductive and end up making more work for myself in the long run but I am relieved that I have at least figured out what I need to do to stay on track before I have started third year which is worth a whopping 2/3 of my degree!
Thanks Loretta for this great post! I know I’ll be putting some of the tips to great use! Remember to check out her blog here.
Do you have a varying timetable? How do you manage it?