As a first-year student (a Fresher), you will need to change your mindset. Going to university is very different to high school and college. You will be expected to do far more studying on your own and manage your time well to get through the year.
This is often considered a throw-away year. You just need to do the bare minimum to pass, because the grades aren’t included in the final grade after your three or four years on the course. Out of all my tips for first-year students, my number one would be not to treat it that way. Treat your first year as a guide to follow for the rest of your time at university.
When it comes to time management, it’s worth following these five tips for first-year students. You’ll find studying much easier and you’ll be ready for anything life throws at you.
Block Out Time to Study
I remember a second-year student finding it hilarious that I was studying one night when I was a Fresher. He kept saying how being a Fresher was all about partying and having fun.
Unfortunately, I listened to that. Looking back I should have stuck with the plan that I had in mind. Once I got used to the Fresher way of life, I found it difficult to get into a studying path. It was only the second time at university that I changed my mindset.
So, start your Fresher year by blocking out time for study. Create a study calendar and make sure you get your 35-40 hours of study in a week. You may not need the whole time at first, but it will be useful later in the year and later in your course.
Don’t forget to block out some time for life! You’ll need it to keep your mind and body healthy.
Try Out the Pomodoro Technique
When it is study time, use it productively. You’ll be tempted to procrastinate and find something more fun to do.
If this becomes a problem, consider the Pomodoro technique. I shared my thoughts about this a couple of weeks ago and do highly recommend it. I do my own version of it now because I’ve found what works for me. Following the exact Pomodoro technique will be a place to start.
As you get used to the technique or understand more about how your mind works, you’ll find a technique that works better for you.
List Three Things You Want to Get Done
While you’ll have a list of things to do, start your day with just three things on your list. Make a note of the three that are the most important—the ones that you desperately want to get through.
They may be to get through the first draft of your college essay or to do 30 minutes of revision. You may want to develop your study blog or rewrite your notes so you can understand them better.
Don’t fret about not necessarily getting through them all, but make a commitment to try hard. There will be times that while you would like to get through the tasks, you don’t actually want to do the tasks. That’s normal and sometimes you just have to force yourself to get through them.
Create Your Ideal Day Calendar
This is something that I recently learned about in business. It’s really useful and I figured that it would help university students too. In fact, it’s now become one of my tips for first-year students.
Your ideal day calendar is just as it sounds. It’s the type of day that you would love to have—or an ideal week.
You can block out time for studying and time for socialising. You set in hours for the gym and time to be at lectures. This is a dream week.
Will you stick to that dream week? Not necessarily. The aim is to have something to aspire to that will block out your time.
Create yours on Google calendar as a separate calendar to your normal one. It won’t block out your time and will only be visible when you want it to be to see how well you’re staying on track.
Invest in a Study Planner
While I (and many others) call them blog planners, you can call them study planners. They do the exact same thing: plan out your week or your month to help manage your time. And yes, I find them extremely helpful.
One of the benefits is that you can see a month and a week at once. You can see when your essay deadlines are, so you plan around them. Make sure you get drafts completed well in advance and have time to review and rewrite as you need to.
I shared my thoughts on the Plan+Things weekly planner recently. While I focused on the business side of things, I’d find this planner extremely useful for Freshers and other university students. It’s affordable, big, and easy to work for all your essay and course needs.
Stay on Track as a Fresher
With the above tips for first-year students, you’ll be a whizz at time management. By the time you reach your second year, you’ll be miles ahead of everyone else.
I really wish I did all these when I first went to university. I shouldn’t have listened to those who said the Fresher year didn’t really count. It’s the year to make some mistakes and find a study and time management plan that works for you.
What do you use to manage your time? Feel free to share in the comments below.