How to Stay on Track While at University


Lisa Alioto

04 April 2020 26 comments

By the time we reach University some of us have already figured out a way to prioritize our responsibilities.  University can throw a wrench is some of the best laid plans though.  There’s more to keep track of and sometimes the deadlines are tighter. In addition, there’s often many extra-curricular activities drawing our attention away from them. So how do we continue to prioritize and meet deadlines?

Our Memory

I know many people that can simply rely on their memory for meeting their deadlines. I was never so lucky.  Out of sight, quite often out of mind.  However, this strategy does work quite well for many.

Study Groups

Many use their regular study groups to help stay on track.  This can be a great method for continuing to make progress on projects and ensuring that you meet deadlines.  The key is to make sure that your study group as a whole is diligent – there’s nothing worse than the whole group accidentally missing a deadline.  A great study group will ensure that you stay on top of your projects and that you nail every deadline!

A Planner

Many find that a Planner works quite well for them.   While many use a paper planner I think the majority of people have now transitioned to a calendar on our phones to keep track of deadlines.

Planner Strategies

One trick of the trade that I have learned and carried through into the workplace is to not just put in deadlines in my calendar but also to calendar in time slots to do the actual work.  This helps me plan my days well and ensures that I don’t end up doing any late night cramming.

Another great strategy used by many of us is to enter advance deadlines. In other words, if a project is due on Friday, many of us will add it to our calendars as a Wednesday deadline.  This allows us to finish projects ahead of time and look good to our instructors (or employers), but also in the unfortunate situation where we find we’ve run up against this deadline the pleasant news is that there actually is two more days to complete the project. It’s sort of a fail-safe strategy.

What are your Strategies for Prioritizing Work?

Do you rely on your memory to meet deadlines?   Do you use a planner and if so, how do you use it?  What types of deadlines do you track?  Do you slot out work time as well as deadlines?  I’d love to hear what you’ve found works best for you.




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26 thoughts on “How to Stay on Track While at University

  1. These are great tips! I finished uni last year and I definitely found having a planner and really planning out deadlines, reading and revision really helped me get the most out of my time and not fall behind.

    1. Lisa Alioto

      Excellent – I’m glad to hear it worked out so well for you Sarah. Thanks for sharing!

  2. I don’t go to the uni anymore, but I found this post helpful in prioritizing work. Planners work best for me. I just need to slot work times and to finish projects ahead of time. Thanks for the tips!

    1. Lisa Alioto

      You’re welcome Fritzie! 🙂

  3. Great tips! I love a planner & lists. If it’s not written down it probably wouldn’t be completed.

    1. Lisa Alioto

      I am the same way Thia – I need a list. Out of sight, out of mind for me!

  4. Having a planner is good in general, I try to plan ahead as much as possible,

    1. Lisa Alioto

      I do too Adam – it sure can save you if you get in a pinch!

  5. Love all of these different tips for college students! I found having a planner kept me on track the whole time. Everyone needs to learn to timeblock :).

    Nancy ♥

    1. Lisa Alioto

      Timeblock – I love that phrase Nancy!!

  6. My course had an online calendar with all of the deadlines for every module on it so I could always check that if my memory failed me. The Wednesday deadline is a great tip! x


    1. Lisa Alioto

      That’s a great strategy for an instructor to provide Sophie – great idea!

  7. Good tips. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Lisa Alioto

      You are very welcome Fadima – thank you for stopping by!

  8. These are brilliant suggestions, thanks for sharing Lisa! When I was at Uni, I always kept a paper planner, I still have a paper planner now, I don’t think I’d ever switch to digital as I love stationery too much! 😀 Fab post, hope you have a lovely week <3 xx

    Bexa |

    1. Lisa Alioto

      Thank you so much Bexa – I actually love a paper planner too but have switched to an electronic one so I can easily have one while “on the go!”

  9. At the moment I’m enraged by my university, they’re doing nothing to help me complete my last two modules which I can’t finish solely because of the coronavirus. This isn’t even the first time my university has fucked me over either. I hate my university with the first of a billion suns.

    Anyway, rant over.

    I didn’t really plan much for my university work. Just kind did stuff when I wasn’t busy.

    I’d teach myself the work, as I can’t learn from my tutors due to my dyslexia. I’d spend a lot of time doing the research for my course work and compiling a word doc of possible useful stuff with references, in case I used them. Then when I thought I had enough, I’d then write my coursework using said notes.

    I’m so lucky I’m in the information age, it would be impossible to adapt my dyslexia requirements to my studies in any pervious era.

    1. Lisa Alioto

      I’m so sorry to hear of the extra challenges that you have encountered Unwanted Life. It sounds like you’ve done a great job of making it work the best possible way it can for you! I wish you all the best!

  10. I use a mix of Trello because it’s on my phone and a paper planner because I love physically crossing things off! Great tips, Lisa, thank you for sharing 🙂

  11. Lisa Alioto

    You are very welcome Lisa – thanks for sharing how you stay on top of your tasks and responsibilities!

  12. Ahh I remember the University struggles! Luckily it didn’t affect me too much as I basically kept a planner as you’ve mentioned above, and a colour-coded calendar as I also had two jobs at the time!

    1. Lisa Alioto

      It sounds like you were very busy Meaghan – I bet that planner served you well!

  13. I just restarted college so this post came at the perfect time! I’ve found setting study goals on my phone’s calendar with reminders to be extremely helpful this time around.

    1. Lisa Alioto

      It sounds like you already have a great plan in place AMak. My very best to you in your upcoming college experience!

  14. Charity says:

    These are all such great tips. It would be so hard to be enrolled in a university right now during all this. But it is so important to stay on track and keep focused!

    1. Lisa Alioto

      Completely agree Charity! Thank you for stopping by and commenting!

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