Time Management


Many students struggle with time management when they arrive at university for numerous reasons. Often, it can be because you have come from a structured environment, such as school, work or college. Here, most people had a similar routine everyday of getting up, going to school/work/college, coming home for dinner, relaxing and going to sleep. At university, you may only have 4 hours of class time a week, leaving the majority of your week free. This can be overwhelming and means it is tough to structure and prioritise your day. We’ve outlined some time management techniques below;

Plan your day

Many students tell us they plan their day but find it hard to stick with that structure. This can be for a wide variety of reasons, including planning the “perfect” day, where you are able to work for a solid 8 hours and get everything done that needs to be done. In reality it is tough to have a perfect day, and this can be the first thing to overcome when planning your day. You may want to get 8 hours of studying in, but what is realistic for you? Try using our Study Planner, which can be used for any day. We’d also recommend;

  • Use a diary, which could be a physical or digital one. Your Outlook calendar can be helpful, as you can put in your deadlines in advance with reminders.
  • Plan one day at a time and ensure you are realistic in your expectations. What will you be doing for yourself and your wellbeing?
  • You can also use our To-Do list template, which helps you break-up tasks into different categories.


Prioritisation is a key part of time management, as we have to prioritise what we do in our day to determine how we schedule our day, week and semester. Here are some tips on how to do this;

  • We need to establish times in your day that you will eat, relax, sleep and do things you enjoy. This may not seem as important as your work, but looking after your physical and mental health can help us progress other things in our life.
  • Note down all of your deadlines, assignments and other tasks like work or meetings.
  • To prioritise this, think about what needs to be completed first and how much time you need. Do this for all work on the list. The below diagram may help with this.
  • Use your plan to incorporate this into your day.
  • Start!

Set Goals

Setting goals can be a helpful way to know what to focus on and keep us focused on what we need to do. We’d recommend using the SMART goals method.

  • Specific (simple, sensible, significant).
  • Measurable (meaningful, motivating).
  • Achievable (agreed, attainable).
  • Relevant (reasonable, realistic and resourced, results-based).
  • Time bound (time-based, time limited, time/cost limited, timely, time-sensitive).

You can learn more about this technique on MindTools.

Other techniques are;

  • Don’t multi-task
  • Minimise distractions
  • Find a good work environment
  • Set working hours that work for you
  • Take breaks

What support do we offer? 

You can book an appointment to speak to a member of staff or email support.advice@st-andrews.ac.uk for advice. You can also see our latest groups and workshops on our Instagram

Alternative Internal Support

You can access self-help through various University channels such as:

  • ShelfHelp, which provides eBooks or physical copies which can help you learn to manage your time.
  • SilverCloud, which provides various modules to work through at your own pace to help understand and manage the thoughts, feelings and behaviours that may lead to poor time management.
  • TogetherAll - a safe, online community where people support each other anonymously to improve mental health and wellbeing. (This service is available until February 2023, after this we recommend reaching out to SHOUT).

External Support

If you would like to access some self-help materials here are a list of alternative support resources.