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ABP Study and Research Guide

This guide will help you with your studies in the Bachelor of Design, MSD and beyond.

Planning your time and tasks

To manage your workload effectively and meet submission dates, try to break your work down into manageable steps and work steadily towards your deadlines. 

This page provides a selection of planners to help you manage your time and tasks, which you can download and modify for your own purposes.

 

Break assignments into steps and set interim deadlines

Using an assignment planner can help you avoid a last-minute rush to complete work.

To use a planner: 

  1. Break your assignment into tasks
  2. Include some details outlining what each task involves
  3. Work backwards from the due date to set interim deadlines
  4. Tick off each task as you achieve it

example of filling in an assignment planner

To download this template, click Assignment planner (word doc)
To find out more, click Assignment planner

 

Record all of your assessment deadlines in one place

Using a semester planner allows you to see all of your due dates at once, which helps you prepare for weeks when several pieces of work are due at the same time.

If you estimate how long each assignment will take, you will also be able to see what you need to be working on in each week. 

When you notice particularly busy weeks, think about what you could start earlier that might make your workload more manageable later in the semester. 

semester planner filled in with three subjects

To download this template, click Semester planner (word doc)
To find out more, click Semester planner

 

Allocate periods of time within a your week to tasks

In your weekly schedule, ensure that you:

  1. Block out time for commitments you can't alter, such as classes, sport or paid work. 
  2. Allocate other tasks according to the length of time you need for those activities. For example, you can spend half an hour between classes reviewing lecture notes, but you may need several hours for a more substantial task for an assignment. 
  3. Schedule breaks throughout your day and include social events. 

weekly planner filled in with lectures, tutorials and study times for three subjects, plus extracurricular activities like parties and grocery shopping

To download this template, click Weekly planner (word doc)
To find out more, click Weekly planner
For advice about creating an exam revision schedule, download this Revision schedule (word doc) and refer to Creating a revision program

Setting goals

Goals can help you stay focused on your priorities, use your time efficiently, and give you a sense of achievement as you complete tasks.

However, if the goals you set are too vague, they can have the opposite effect and leave you with the feeling that you are never getting enough done. 

A widely-used acronym for setting clear goals is 'SMART'. 

  • Specific: you know what you have to do
  • Measurable: you can measure it
  • Attainable: you have the skills to do it
  • Relevant: you should be doing it
  • Time-bound: you know how long it will take

An example of setting goals for major project using SMART acronym

Setting goals with these attributes also makes it easier to see what you've achieved, and over time you will be able to estimate how long tasks take more accurately. 

To read more about time and task management, have a look at 10 Tips to Managing Time and Tasks

Avoiding procrastination

Procrastination occurs when you put off tasks that you need to do. 

You can probably already recognise when you are procrastinating, but identifying why you are procrastinating may be more difficult.

diagram of what happens when you procrastinate versus when you immediately start a task

Refer to the resources below for more insight into what might be causing you to procrastinate. 

For advice from Counselling and Psychological Services at the University of Melbourne, read Procrastination
To learn more from the Centre for Clinical Interventions, browse this Workbook - Put off procrastinating

 

Strategies to overcome procrastination

To overcome procrastination, you can try:

  • Reacting immediately when you get a new task, rather than waiting for a vague start date in the future. 
  • Breaking down the task and starting with some easy activities. 
  • Telling yourself you will work on a task for 5 minutes, then seeing if you can continue. 
  • Scheduling regular short blocks of time to work on the task. 
  • Setting realistic goals.
  • Seeking help when you need it: from your instructors, other students, the ABP Library, Academic Skills, or Counselling and Psychological Services

Many of these strategies are outlined in more detail in the sections on planning your time and setting goals above. 

To read about a popular technique to improve productivity by working in short intervals of time, refer to The Pomodoro Technique
For a humorous insight into what causes procrastination, watch Inside the mind of a master procrastinator (video) or read How to beat procrastination