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Time management: prioritise

Alongside your planning, you'll need to prioritise different tasks as you juggle everything that's going on, especially at busy times when you may have a lot of deadlines to meet.

One way of prioritising is to use the important / urgent matrix (shown below). Make a list of the things you need to do, then put your tasks into one of these four categories to decide what needs to be done straight away. If it is important and urgent, it probably does!

Important / Urgent Matrix diagram

Another technique is to use the two minute rule: sometimes it can be most efficient to do new tasks as you get them, but consider how much time they will take and how important they are. Usually, if they are only going to take two minutes, just do them straight away, otherwise add them to your to-do list.

Finally, some people use the 80/20 Pareto principle. This says that 80% of the results you get come from 20% of the effort you put in, so make sure you focus on what's really important.

For example, if you have three hours of study time in the Library, rather than spending all the time reading four journal articles in detail, glance through 10 articles spending five minutes on each to decide which are most relevant. Then focus the rest of your time on the best two.