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All my own work: exploring academic integrity
All my own work: exploring academic integrity

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5.4 Making the best of the time you have

It is important to understand how your module or course works, for example how many hours of study do you need each week? Does that include tutorial time? How many assessments are there? Are there key activities that need to be completed at specific times? Make sure you find out the level of commitment required for your module or course, whether at The Open University or elsewhere. Formal courses often publish study planners, to help you to progress through in a stepwise manner, whether weekly or on a term-by-term basis.

Chalkboard image. Person walking up steps to where it says ‘Planning time’. Underneath is a stopwatch.

As you plan your study time, remember:

  • Don’t rule out small amounts of time! A study session doesn’t need to be long; you can test how much you remember from your most recent readings as you wait for the kettle to boil or as you sit on a bus. Keep a notebook or scrap-paper handy for unexpected study time. Over the course of a week, all these little ‘extras’ add up.
  • Look ahead – know what you intend to study and when. Breaking a big task into smaller tasks is likely to be more manageable. Look through Section 5.2 on ‘being SMART’.
  • Be flexible – sometimes even the best plans need to be amended. Look through Section 5.3 ‘Being reflective’.
  • Take regular breaks – it may seem counter-intuitive, but you will need time to process your studies. Taking time to ‘step away’ will help to make your active study time effective and efficient. Be aware of your own attention span; some people can work longer than others before getting distracted. Try to plan your study breaks around how you work best.