How to uni: Getting it done
You've set your goals, now it's time to do the work. This section takes you through what you need to stay organised, develop helpful habits and make difficult choices about how you spend your time.
Beginning university means adding another priority to your life and depending how many subjects you take, you'll have lots of different deadlines to work towards and lots of things to learn. This means managing your time is key.
Having a system to stay organised, manage your time and stay on top of your learning and life is one of the easiest ways to thrive at uni. It doesn’t need to be perfect it just needs to be a system that you can stick to each day. If you can’t stick to your system, you might be asking too much of yourself so change things until it works for you.
- A notebook – Any notebook will do. The most important thing is that you’re writing things down.
- Note-taking method – Cornell notes is a popular & effective method, but to get the most out of your revision time, try using the Matrix method.
- Note-taking software – We recommend Microsoft OneNote, or Evernote.
- Calendar – Your student email also comes with an Outlook Calendar. Use this to keep track of all the things you’ve got coming up and set reminders so you never forget a deadline. You can also use Time blocking to make the best use of your time.
- Task manager – You can use Microsoft To-Do to keep track of your tasks, set due dates and reminders to make sure the important things get done.
Related resources and UTS services
- HeadsUp: Study skills – UTS Library
- Assignment survival kit - UTS Library
- Best tips for studying remotely – UTS Student Hacks Podcast
- Boosting productivity with Microsoft OneNote – LinkedIn Learning
- How to prepare your Microsoft Outlook calendar – LinkedIn Learning
- Study workload planner – Deakin University
- Microsoft To-Do – LinkedIn Learning
- Bullet journal method
You are not the product not of the goals that you set, but of the actions you take on a daily basis that help you reach those goals. Building the skills and knowledge to achieve your goals takes time and ongoing effort. You wouldn't expect to get a high distinction if you never did the readings or studied for your exam, would you? There's good news though: If you practice building your habit consistently, it will eventually become automatic, and the more you practice a skill, the easier it gets!
But it's not just the doing of your habits that's important, it's also how you do them. By establishing a routine, you can make it easier for your brain to work on a task. For example, if you set up a space and a time that you study consistently, your brain will start to automatically switch to study mode when that happens, making it much easier for you to get your study done.
You can also set up rituals that help remind your brain when it's time to do a specific kind of thinking. Your rituals will help not only help get your brain started, but can also let the people you share a space with know when you're trying to concentrate. Some helpful rituals might be:
- Turning off your phone
- Putting up (and taking down when you're done) a calendar with the assessment schedule
- Listening to particular music
In the Goal setting unit, you learned how to set SMART goals. Take your SMART goals and think about one thing you can do every day or week that will build the skills you need to achieve your goals. Write that thing down on your SMART Goals worksheet.
Once you've done that, use the Habit Tracker worksheet to keep yourself accountable. Reward yourself at the end of the month if you've been consistent on working on your skill.
You've thought about your purpose, you've set a SMART goal and established useful habits - now you're going to take a look at how you handle new tasks that come up, and what you spend your time on. This chart is called an Eisenhower matrix. It's a way of prioritising the things you need to do, and analysing how you spend your time. When we're busy and stressed, it can feel like it's absolutely vital that everything is done straight away.
If we're organised and thoughtful about how we plan our time, we can spend most of our time on things that are important to us, but that don't need to be done straight away. When we procrastinate, we often spend our time doing things that aren't important or urgent, and then later we have to spend our time frantically working on important tasks that we could have done earlier.
Think about then things on your to-do list. Decide how important and how urgent each task is and write it in the matching box. Which box is most full? The things in the not urgent/important box are often the things we *want* to do. How can change how you do what you want, so it benefits you? Remember: not all time needs to be productive. Downtime is important.
Now think about what you did in the last few days: did you spend your time on tasks that were important? Do you have lots of urgent tasks now that weren't urgent last week?
Related resources and UTS services
- Procrastination – UTS Student Hacks Podcast
- Managing your time - UTS Counselling
- Dealing with stress - UTS Counselling
- Managing procrastination - UTS Counselling
How to Uni was originally co-created by Tyler Key, an Associate Lecturer in Transdisciplinary Innovation with UTS students Juliet Hodgson, Clancy Beckers Emma Steele, Ellen Trimble & Annie Walker. It has been adapted for the web by Alycia Bailey and Liv Day from the Student Learning Hub in consultation with David Taplin from UTS Counselling. Illustrations and templates by Megan Wong.