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Self Organisation and Time Management

What is time management?

Time management refers to the use of a range of skills, tools and techniques used to organise or manage time when accomplishing specific tasks, projects and goals. Effective time management is underpinned by a range of additional skills which include planning, allocating, goal setting, delegation, monitoring and analysis of time spent, organising, scheduling and prioritising.

Time management is the capability to properly plan and organise time to maximise productivity and efficiency.  It denotes the ability to use time consistently well to complete immediate tasks and to work towards long term goals.  Time management is both a skill and an attitude; it requires the skill of knowing and using time management techniques, but is also dependent on being motivated and driven in order to put the plan into practice.

What is self organisation?

Self organisation is the ability to work in an ordered and methodical manner whilst being efficient and productive. Good self organisational skills help us to cope with the world around us and are essential if we want to achieve personal goals as well as perform well in our job.  These skills help keep us focused on doing the right tasks, help us set our priorities and give us the confidence that we are following our chosen pathway to our desired destination
Good self organisation requires the ability to prioritise, plan, manage time and work to deadlines.  Self organisation is required for managing our time, resources, relationships, information, our environment, pressure, and our behaviour.

Limited ability with self organisation may cause difficulties with the following:
  • Planning;
  • Scheduling and managing their time (procrastinating);
  • Meeting deadlines;
  • Selecting, using and managing relevant resources;
  • Making decisions;
  • Tracking tasks and achievements;
  • Effectively organising daily actions and routines;
  • Self review and evaluation.
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Impairments that may impact on self organisation include the following:

Although most people depend on self organisation for developing time management skills, this does not mean that people who have difficulties with self organisation cannot possess the skills; rather, they may need reasonable adjustments to practice to enable them to develop or evidence these. 

Inclusive strategies

The experience and characteristics of different impairments/conditions are highly variable between individuals. For this reason it is really important that you never make assumptions about what a person can or cannot do. Though someone may have significant difficulties, they may also have devised sophisticated means of compensating for these, so talk to the person concerned and make judgments only on an individual basis.
  • Encourage learners to consider their study environment. It is more difficult to focus on work if they aren't comfortable, don't have enough space or the appropriate resources.
  • Use visual schedules and calendars.
  • Encourage the habit of using other kinds of individualised aids, e.g. electronic diary, personal dictionaries, audio instructions on personal stereo, topic-based vocabulary lists, number aids, etc.
  • Help learners to use ‘to do’ lists and checklists.
  • One in four people in the UK experience Mental Health Difficulties at some point in their lives – do not write someone off because they happen to be ill at this time – you may miss out on exceptional talent!
  • Depression, stress and anxiety are the most common types of mental illness. It is common for people with these feelings to lack confidence and have low self-esteem despite having the same full range of intellectual abilities as the population as a whole. Be sensitive to the fact that some people with Mental Health Difficulties may be affected by prescribed medication which can affect concentration or make them feel excessively tired. The effects of the medication may mean that they are unable to make early morning appointments.
  • Create an atmosphere that is open, positive and supportive.
  • Encourage individuals to find strategies that work best for them and enable them to become independent in their learning or work.
  • Teach use of various software packages that support planning and monitoring such as MS Outlook and Excel.
  • Teach students strategies for self organisation:
    • Once the course schedule is established, develop and plan for, blocks of study time in a typical week;
    • Decide on a place free from distraction (no mobiles or text messaging!);
    • Prioritise assignments;
    • Just get started - get something done!
    • Postpone unnecessary activities until the work is done;
    • Identify the necessary resources;
    • Use free time wisely;
    • Review notes and readings just before seminars or tutorials;
    • Review lecture notes;
    • Prepare for exams or assignments in good time.

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Remember that people with the same impairments may need different adjustments to practice to enable them to engage with the assessment process and demonstrate their learning.

When assessing your learners, be very clear about exactly what it is you are testing. For example, in asking learners to write an essay in an exam, are you testing the learners’ knowledge and understanding of the topic, or the ability to write clearly and precisely? Decide what you are assessing, how many marks are apportioned for each element (knowledge or good writing, memory or understanding), and ensure that students are clear about these criteria.

Consider why you are assessing in a particular way and whether or not another method may be more inclusive. In some cases, the exact format of the assessment is critical to the demonstration of the intended learning outcome (for example, a course in hairdressing would require a practical demonstration of competence), but aim to allow your learners to have a choice about how they demonstrate their knowledge and skills whenever possible; in other words allow them to demonstrate their knowledge and skills using a variety of formats.

There may be occasions where you have provided the disabled learner with an alternative assessment (for example, a blind learner may need to give their answers orally rather than in writing). In such cases, you should ensure the integrity of the alternative assessment and make sure that the disabled learner is judged on their ability to meet the criteria – providing neither a disadvantage nor an advantage over other learners.

In addition to time management, limited ability with self organisation is likely to affect the following employability skills:


BusinessBalls : Time management techniques and systems

Career One Stop
: Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor

(2007): The Importance of Time Management

– time management

- Time Management, business glossary
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University of Worcester

Dr Val Chapman (NTF)
Principal Investigator
Director, Centre for Inclusive Learning Support
Email: v.chapman@worc.ac.uk
University of Plymouth

Judith Waterfield (NTF)
Head of Disability ASSIST Services
Email: j.waterfield@plymouth.ac.uk
University of Gloucester

Dr Phil Gravestock (NTF)
Head of Learning Enhancement and Technology Support
Email: pgravestock@glos.ac.uk