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Time management
for GCSE students and above

Perhaps the most important route to achieving academic success is to be able to manage your time effectively. Time management is a process by which all required work is completed on time and your education progresses smoothly. The problem with writing about it is that, like all aspects of education, it's a highly personal thing. So please take the ideas presented below as a general guide, as something to be talked about, worked on and improved, rather than as something that must be strictly adhered to.

Sometimes you will find yourself thinking there's no-one to talk to. Apart from a teacher or tutor, don't be afraid to talk to your parents, grandparents or a family friend - even though they may not understand what you're studying, this aspect of work is so central they can probably give you good ideas.

Part of your time will already be managed for you, in terms of events in the school/college/university timetable. Other events are also fixed, such as deadlines for homework, coursework and examinations. Use these events as a framework into which you can start to organize the remainder of your time.

Start by making a series of tables; one for the term, and one for the week. Organize the term table like a calendar, so that you have a space for each day. Organize the weekly table so you have space to write things in each hour, say. These are also available for purchase from stationery shops at a reasonable price if you prefer. However, before spending lots of money, it might be wise to try this idea and see if it works for you first.

In the term table, you can write important dates, such as coursework deadlines and examination dates when you get them. In the weekly table, you begin to organize your time, by allocating time to specific activities.

Initially, you need to make an assessment of your goals and estimate the time required to achieve them. The important things here are to be as honest as possible with yourself, and where possible, overestimate the time needed to do the work initially - if you're anything like me, you'll still find yourself rushing!

When undertaking any study, it's important to be motivated. If you don't have any enthusiasm for your work, you'll find that you have to work even harder to succeed. Perhaps allocate some time to reading about the subject to obtain some enthusiasm. If you enjoy what you do, work doesn't seem like work - it actually becomes enjoyable!

For example, say you have an essay that's due in four weeks' time. You've estimated that you need to spend your time as follows:

Remember that the plan is flexible, and if you aren't getting enough work done, you need to change your plan to bring the work back on track. Similarly, if you've got all the information after the first day, dedicate the remaining time allocated for that week to producing the outline.

Other tips that might be useful:

Try and make your family and friends aware of these things, and I'm sure they will support you as best they can.

Also, don't forget that you need to keep yourself healthy, so allocate reasonable amounts of time for eating, sleeping, socializing and relaxing generally.

Finally, allocate time at the end of each day to review your progress and achievements, and if necessary, to revise your plan.