Time management & procrastination
Develop good habits to manage your workload.
There are different ways to effectively manage your time and your work. Some students find that they are more productive when they work for shorter periods with breaks in between to recharge and relax, while others prefer to dive in for longer stretches at a time. But without a clear plan on how to tackle assignments and studying, it’s easy to procrastinate for hours or even days at a time. The key to managing your time effectively is to develop a realistic routine that works for you!
- Be your own secretary and manage your time
- Without the regular structure of in-person classes, use a schedule and an agenda to structure when you do your work. Set times to attend online classes, review lecture notes, do practice problems, create flashcards, work on assignments and so on.
- It’s also important to schedule downtime, relaxation, exercise and social time: prioritize your self-care!
- Begin your work earlier
- Online classes may pose unique barriers (e.g. technical difficulties, additional time needed to communicate over email, using new software, etc.). Expect that these new challenges may take some extra time to overcome.
- Reduce screen time, if needed
- Online learning can mean a lot of time spent using a computer: it can be helpful to identify class work that can be done away from the screen. For example, write a first draft of your essay on paper then type it up. For readings, you might print a hardcopy, use a text-to-speech app, or even download them to device that is kinder to your eyes.
- Take short, regular breaks from the screen.
- Work in shifts
- Some students like the Pomodoro method of studying: studying for 25 minutes and then taking a break for 5 minutes. These can be repeated over the course of a work day.
- Some students, however, find this pattern to be unhelpful. You can adjust these lengths of time to suit your needs, being sure to take regular breaks.
- Reward yourself for completing work. Start small by rewarding small accomplishments and then work up to longer shifts of work.
Managing your time
Study Hacks - How to Manage Your Time at the University of Toronto
YouTube video transcript:
1. Create routines: Make a habit of doing the same activities the same time each week. This can help you use your time more effectively.
2. Use an agenda: Use monthly, weekly and daily agendas to track your goals, priorities and tasks.
3. Write everything down: Write down all academic commitements as well as non-academic activities such as working, socializing and eating.
4. Be specific and realistic: Be clear about what you need to achieve and give yourself enough time. Tasks often take longer than estimated!
5. Use the UTSC Assignment Calculator: Use the UTSC Assignment Calculator to help you break down major projects.
6. Be forgiving and flexible: If you run out of time, don't beat yourself up! Adjust your goals and make a new plan. This experience will guide you next time.
Study Hacks - Reduce Procastination at the University of Toronto
YouTube video transcript:
1. Plan, Plan & Plan: Make a reasonable plan and specific goals for completing a project.
2. Break down work into tasks: This makes work manageable and can help you get started while staying focused!
3. Determine best time & location: Do your hardest and most time-consuming task when and where you feel the most focused.
4. Prioritize based on importance and urgency: Assign a priority level to all you tasks and divide your time accordingly.
5. Use the 5-minute strategy: Struggling to start? Set a timer for just 5 minutes and give it your best shot. You're likely to get the momentum you need.
6. Move on if you're stuck: Make a note of any questions you have and brainstorm who you can talk to. Come back when you have the answers you need.
7. Be kind to yourself: Don't worry if you don't finish a task during the specified time. Acknowledge the work you've completed and make a new plan.
Harnessing Habits: A Self Analysis Worksheet
Procrastination commonly results from a tendency to see projects and assignments as tasks that need to be completed from start to finish in one long sitting. Most projects need to be split into smaller steps and spread out over multiple sittings.
Use the exercise in the Harnessing Habbits: Self Analysis worksheet to learn how to use time efficiently. This worksheet will help you develop a realistic and more productive work routine during the term when you have a short amount of time to complete yoru work.
To complete this exercise, you’ll need a few copies of the hourly scheduling template provided below, a monthly calendar, a daily agenda planner, coloured pens and all of your course syllabi.
Mobile apps and assistive technology
We have used some of the apps and websites listed below, and others have come to our attention from students who have found them helpful.
Disclaimer: the University of Toronto does not officially endorse the apps and sites listed here, and may not be held responsible for any technological problems that arise from their use. Please use at your own discretion.
Students with disabilities may receive academic accommodations including the support of assistive technologies. Please contact Accessibility Services for more information.
UTSC Assignment Calculator
The UTSC Assignment Calculator is an online tool that will help you break down any assignment into maneable steps and guide you to helpful resources.
Start using the UTSC Assignment Calculator.
U of T Student Union Resources Explorer
Find the available resources provided to you by various departments and units at the University of Toronto such as: Academic Success Centre, Accessibility Services, Indigenous Student Services and the Centre of International Experience.