Step-by-step: How to make a study timetable that works for you
Having a well-planned timetable can help you maintain a life-study balance. Source: Photo by Kinga Cichewicz/Unsplash

As a new academic year begins, it’s unlikely that you’re already planning your revision timetable – but having a study timetable in place all year can really help you reach your top potential.

Not only does it keep you focused, but it also helps you maintain a healthy life-study balance, meaning you don’t end up having to cram before deadlines, or have to wave goodbye to your social life during busy periods.

It’s hard to know where to start when you think about organising your study schedule, so we’ve broken it down for you below…

Step One: Identify your deadlines and important social dates

To effectively plan a study timetable, you need to have all your important dates written down – that means both your academic and social commitments.

Think about:

  • Assignment deadlines
  • Exam periods
  • Application deadlines (scholarships, internships, summer programmes, grad jobs etc.) 
  • Birthdays
  • Important occasions (weddings, anniversaries, religious and national holidays)
  • Other commitments (part-time jobs, music festivals, sporting events, planned holidays etc.)

Once you know these important dates, they need to go down in your calendar. If you know it will take up your entire day or maybe even a few, block this time out right away. Otherwise, make a note so you’re aware you may be busy for at least some of the day.

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This will help you account for days you won’t be able to study. Rather than finding yourself a week before a deadline with only three available days, you will have prepared for this in advance.

Step Two: Decide how long to dedicate to key dates preparation

Now you know your key events, it’s time to decide how long you need to prepare for them. This will depend on your unique style and level of study, but leave enough time to work on your commitment without having to dedicate all your time to it.

Whether it’s a wedding you’re helping to plan or an exam you’re studying for, it’s tempting to ignore these important events until you have time to drop everything else and focus, but by planning your timetable at the beginning of the year, you can ensure this doesn’t happen.

Once you have a clear timeline of what you need to achieve and how long to spend on this, you can move onto step three.

Step Three: Schedule your classes and extracurricular activities

Before you factor which how to balance your free time, you also need to account for time in your schedule eaten up by classes and activities. This will depend on what course you’re studying and how time-intensive your hobbies are.

Source: Giphy

You might be spending the majority of your week in lectures, or you might be scheduled down for a study stint in the library – it all depends on your subject and level of study.

Alternatively, your weekends and evenings can mainly be spent on the sports field or at band practice, or you may have entire days free to allocate your time.

Step Four: Balance your free time

So now you know exactly how much time you have, you can work out how much of it you need to spend studying, which areas to prioritise, and schedule some social time for yourself as well.

If you have an intensive course where you’re in class for most the day, you’ll want to reserve most of your evenings and weekends for non-academic activities.

If, however, you’re pursuing a research degree or only have a few hours of contact time, reserving 70 percent of your free time for studying and 30 percent for relaxing and socialising is a good benchmark.

This weighting might slightly change as plans evolve or particularly busy times arise, so it’s a good idea to approach your timetable flexibly, almost like a guideline rather than a written law.

By managing your time properly from the start of the academic year, you have a better chance of knowledge being stored in your long-term memory, making it easier to accurately recall during exams and assignments.

It should also help lower stress as you’re aware of what’s expected of you from the start, rather than allowing deadlines and important dates to sneak up on you.

If you have any more questions about how to manage your time at university or preparing for essays and assignments drop us an email at

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