Tips on how to manage life as a student

01 May 2019

Here you are in April, you have made it through the academic year. You may have countless assignments, reports and exams to complete. It may be that you are on a CMI standalone qualification, a management degree or masters or one of the trail blazing apprenticeship. The likelihood is that most of you may be feeling the pressure at the final hurdle in your academic year.  When planning and strategising as a manager, what is one of the main things that you may reiterate to yourself upon starting a new project?  “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail” (Benjamin Franklin, circa 1750)

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A little planning goes a long way!  So how can you take your skill set as a manager and transfer this to managing your studies? Here are some hints and tips to help you on your rewarding journey:


Getting Organised

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Start getting your days planned out

  • Use an electronic planner – Preferably one that is available both on your phone and your laptop. Do consider that your University will have provided you with an email account. This is traditionally an outlook account. It is advisable that you connect your phone calendar with your University email account set diary dates of hand-ins, exam dates, supervision meetings, personal events and work events. This will allow for you to monitor and manage your time without missing any of those crucial deadlines. It may be beneficial to set alters and reminders, that are reoccurring, that way if you forget (which as a student, can easily happen!) you will be given your own personal push from the device that most tend to pay attention to our phones
  • Download a project management digital tool that can be used on your laptop and your phone. It may be that you have one that is used at work, if you are familiar with the interface and the functionality, then stick with this. 

Alternatively there are products that may be suitable such as;

  • Microsoft excel gantt chart (Free with University account)
  • Redbooth (Free for reporting dates an deadlines. 14 day trial then $9 per month for further features)
  • Teamgantt (Free for small projects, this is ideal for planning assignments and reports)

Take care of yourself

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Breath in, exhale out…….

Pay attention to your work-life-academic balance. It’s a given that with the responsibility of day to day life, combined with either being a full time or part time student; things can be overwhelming. It may seem that you have the best intentions. Yet there may be times when you are spinning too many plates. 

This is where you would benefit from taking some time out to do;

  • Physical activities – a brief walk around your garden or local area
  • Make sure that you eat and stay hydrated – you can’t run a car without fuel!
  • Take regular breaks
  • Try mindfulness to centre yourself and assist with your concentration
  • Spend time with friends, family or even just in the local cafe – you need some time to let your brain rest
  • Invest in a good fictional book – it is great to consume literature from journals, books and academic articles., though you need to keep a balance

Use Microsoft Onenote – this is useful for taking images of books, writing down your thoughts’ quotes and being able to search for them. This should be free with your University account. It would be beneficial to combine this with a good mind mapping tool, such as Mindmeister, as when so many plates are being spun its beneficial to get all of your thoughts down as soon as possible

Create a creative aspiration board – this could consist of images surrounding your graduation, holidays that you are wishing to go on, the job role or Masters that you are aspiring to. Place this is in line of focus near your study area. This will assist with reminding you exactly what you are working towards and give you that extra push

Utilise your resources

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A wealth of information and knowledge
  • Use our CMI management directory – you are doing a management qualification. Therefore, it is extremely useful that you have a wealth of knowledge surrounding research, frameworks, business models and expert advice from specialists that have been doing this for many years right at your finger tips via the CMI. Whilst you may be far on with this academic year; do consider for future years the potential use of mentoring that is available
  • Use electronic versions of your University books – this can be an overlooked gem for students that prefer using technology. Your University will provide you with eBooks that can be used for limited periods of time. In contrast to waiting on physical books to be returned to the library. You can download these books to your own devices and use the search facility to search for keywords within the content

Plan for your future

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There is no time like the present

Plan for your future – If you are in the early years of your studies, this may seem far off for you. Alternatively you could be in your final year, considering your next work or moving further on in higher education. This is a great opportunity to explore and plan for your future to enhance your motivation considering the following options:

  • Professional CMI qualifications up to level 8 – these are run in Universities or through some training providers. A list of providers can be found on our site
  • Postgraduate Masters or PhD – these are provided via Universities and tend to run with a CMI qualification alongside them
  • An apprenticeship – we work with a number of Universities to support them in delivering the new Senior leader masters degree
  • Careers advice within your University – here you will find information about seasonal, graduate or intermittent work placements

Finally; this list of tips may not be for you, remember this is your journey and you can take or leave any of these suggestions! Above all, enjoy your journey!


Article by Kirsty Watson
Student Ambassador Champion