Studying Effectively

Managing your work

Establishing priorities

It can be helpful to think about there being two aspects to the task: (a) how urgent is it? (b) how important is it? By considering these two factors you can assign a level of priority to the task.

  • A - Highest priority. Getting these items done tomorrow is very important. The task is both important and urgent.
  • B - Medium priority. You would really like to finish / accomplish these things, but they can wait if you run out of time. These tasks are important but less urgent.
  • C - Lowest priority. Getting these items done tomorrow is not very important. These tasks are less important and less urgent. 


It is much easier to manage your work if you have a plan to work to. Simple effective planning tools can be:

  • A To-Do list - Write down things you have to do, then decide what to do at the moment, what to schedule for later, what to get someone else to do, and what to put off for a later time period
  • Daily/weekly planner - Write down or diagram your appointments, classes, and meetings on a wall chart. The night before check what's in store for you the following day and first thing in the morning have a quick check what's ahead for the day - it can help to go to sleep knowing you're prepared for tomorrow.
  • A semester planner - Use a monthly chart for the whole semester so that you can plan ahead. You can see when you might be under more pressure, e.g. have several assignment deadlines in the same period, and then you can make necessary preparations and tackle some  jobs earlier
  • Keep up to date - Use the tools available to make sure that you are working with the most current information you can
  • Set reminders - Personal computers, electronic organisers and mobile phones can provide the technology that allows you to set yourself reminders and send yourself timed messages which can be used to prompt and alert forthcoming deadlines or the need to do special preparatory work, e.g readings for a seminar presentation. Post-it notes provide a useful low-tech alternative.


Divide larger tasks into smaller blocks so you can gauge your progress through the task. Allow time for planning and reviewing your work.


Allow extra time for when things do not run according to plan but do not use this as an excuse to allow things to run late. If there are known risks such as the arrival of vital equipment/information then make a note to allow time to cope with the problem.


Review your work regularly to check that it is running according to your plan.

Adjusting plans

If the plan is not working properly take some time to correct your estimates. The earlier you spot potential difficulties the more chance you have of overcoming them.

Studying behind the Social Sciences Building, Malaysia Campus


Further reading

Studying at university

Management tools

more from Academic Support study resources 

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