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21 September 2020

It’s assignment time – but never fear, you can feel in control, be productive and stay balanced!

We’re at that point in the study period when things could start to feel like they’re getting on top of you. You may be juggling multiple assignment deadlines and aren’t sure how to prioritise, or you’re starting to think about your final assessment tasks.

We don’t want you to become overwhelmed or stressed – the challenges of dealing with COVID-19 and moving to online study have been hard enough already!

Even though it doesn’t always feel like it, there are actually enough hours in the day – you just need to use them sensibly and find the right balance. So, what is balance and how will achieving it make your life easier? We’ve listed a few ways to help you organise your time and prioritise.

Give yourself the gift of time

There’s a range of time management techniques you can try, so see what works best for you. One of the most popular is the Pomodoro Technique, which works in the following way:

  1. Choose a task you’d like to get done and set a timer for 25 minutes.
  2. Work uninterrupted on the task until the timer rings. If you think of something else you need to do, write the task down on a sheet of paper.
  3. When the timer rings, take a short break of about five minutes.
  4. Every four pomodoros, take a longer break.

Developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s, each interval is called a ‘pomodoro’ – from the Italian word for ‘tomato’ – after the tomato-shaped kitchen timer that Cirillo used as a university student. Cute, right? And effective, too – read more about how the Pomodoro Technique helps to instil a sense of urgency and makes you use your time more productively.

Set SMART goals

Set some goals for yourself. These goals should be SMART – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely.

Focusing your goal-setting in this way increases your chance of success.

De-clutter your life and make time for things you enjoy

Take the time to declutter your study space. If you’re going to be spending lots of time at your desk, it’s important for it to be comfortable and a pleasant space to be in. 

Make a list of things in your life (at home, at university, at work, in relationships) that drain you of energy. Look at the list and decide whether to do itdump it or delegate it. Now make another list of things that recharge your batteries – activities that lift your spirit, like exercising or your favourite ISO hobby. Make sure there’s something on each list and plan to do those things soon.

Make a study timetable

Study efficiently and leave yourself enough time to do other things by drawing up a study timetable. Have a plan showing when assignments are due and note busy periods through the academic year.

Keep a diary and list what needs to be done daily. Include physical, social and study activities.

Our online Study workload planner will give you a sense of control and help you keep your study time balanced and productive. 

Use a journal

Write down how you feel each day. Notice those times when you’re feeling great and those times when you’re not. When you’re low on motivation, think about what you haven’t done recently that recharges your batteries. Then go and do it (or plan to do it once COVID-19 restrictions have eased)!

Learn how to practise mindfulness

Mindfulness – being in the present moment through meditation – is a helpful technique to promote mental health. There are a variety of mindfulness apps available. Beyond Blue has some helpful information. You could also try an activity like yoga or even just go for a walk to calm your mind.

Be aware of unhealthy habits

Many habits can affect how balanced your life is – these include things like poor diet, an unhealthy reliance on devices, excessive drinking, procrastinating over assignments and deadlines, and not getting enough quality sleep. Take a look at how your daily habits affect you and where there’s room for improvement.

Seek professional advice

If you still feel that you’re not on top of things and you’re worried about how you’ll manage to complete your assignments, it may help to consult a professional or see how other students have coped:

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