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RMIT University Library - Learning Lab

Goal setting and focus


Student thinking about time management

Set goals that are SMART:

Specific (assessment tasks for example)

Measurable (can be checked and measured)

Attainable (can be attained)

Relevant (related to your education or career)

Time-bound (set a realistic deadline)

Work through the activity below to help practice setting SMART goals - 10 minutes

Try this system to help you maintain focus.

  • Plan how the time will be used.
  • Learn to prioritise (do the most important tasks first).
  • When planning divide large blocks of time into manageable units. For example, 30 minutes can be divided into:
    • 3 minutes: Decide what to do
    • 25 minutes: Do it
    • 3 minutes: Review it
    • Do this twice, then have a break.
  • Finish what you start.
  • Use "wasted time". For example, read a chapter travelling on the train or bus.
  • Reward yourself!

If you find yourself eagerly 'administrating' instead of 'just getting on with it', you're probably procrastinating. Here are some ways of overcoming procrastination.

  • Begin with a task you enjoy.
  • Avoid being a perfectionist.
  • Eliminate time wasting activities e.g. housework.
  • Plan your time and stick to it.
  • Break up difficult or 'dry' work into sections to help you achieve it more readily.
  • Set deadlines for yourself that aren't too restrictive. Aim for something but be flexible at the same time.

For a more comprehensive insight into Procrastination, the Learning Lab has a page dedicated to it here.

Even when you have planned your time well and have clear study goals, life is not without interruptions. A few useful strategies can help you to minimise the effect of interruptions on your study.

  • Learn to say 'no' or 'not now but maybe later'.
  • Ignore the phone or let the answering machine screen calls. Turn your mobile phone off.
  • Make sure you plan time for social activities and family life.
  • Find a place to study where you are less likely to be interrupted. Leave the house! Go to the library to study.
  • If you study at home, close the door. Put a friendly 'work in progress' sign on the door.
  • If someone does interrupt you, stand up. People are less likely to hang around if you remain standing.


What's next... Procrastination