Studying Effectively

Managing yourself

At university, you are expected to be in control of how and when you do your work. In order that you are able to complete your course to the best of your ability and have a social life as well you need to be organised. You need to control your work rather than have it come to control you. Using some straight-forward techniques will allow you to manage yourself, manage your work and manage the way you work with other people.

Time management

People find many different ways to manage their own time. Here are some strategies you might like to experiment with as you develop your own approach. 

  • Protect blocks of study time - try 45 minutes and see how that feels. How long does it take for you start to lose concentration and focus? Some learners need more frequent breaks and some material needs to be tackled in shorter more concentrated blocks.
  • Set a time each week to review, check and update
  • Prioritise assignments - it is often a good idea to tackle the most difficult, complex and demanding tasks first when you are freshest
  • Find a good place to study free from distractions and that you associate with working and thinking
  • Use travel time and other 'dead time' well - use time walking, riding, etc. for reviewing things in your mind and revising topics
  • Before a teaching session (e.g a seminar or a practical class) review your previous learning on the topic
  • Review lecture material as soon as possible after class - this checking and recapping process can be important in reinforcing your learning of the material.

Following plans

It is important to follow plans once you have made them. Keep an eye on your milestones to check progress. If you know how well your work is going this will make you more confident.


We are all distracted by some things but using some simple techniques can help reduce the difficulties caused by distractions.

  • If you are distracted by social media use the timer on your phone to allow yourself a 10 minute Facebook check each hour
  • Consider blocking access or limiting your usage of specific websites on your computer or mobile devices through an application such as LeechBlock (Mozilla Firefox), WasteNoTime or StayFocusd (Google Chrome), or FocalFilter (across Mac and PC browsers)
  • Close the door
  • Mute your phone
  • Shut down messaging programs and email
  • Cover outside noises with some music which helps you concentrate
  • Tell people that you're busy.


It is important to be honest with yourself about your progress. When things are going well you can be pleased. When things go less well avoid dwelling on the problem and revise your plans to take into account the difficulty.

Taking action

Where possible be pro-active. When things are going well continue with the plan. When difficulties arise take action to mitigate their effects and revise your plans.

Studying in the Humanities Building


Further reading

Studying at university

Time management tools

more from Academic Support study resources

People who can help

Talk to someone in your school or a specialist support service


Studying Effectively

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