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How to manage your time

soramsey —  6 December 2013 — 9 Comments


by ACCA student blogger Yani Shi

I mentioned time management in my lost blog, and I am going to expand on this topic in this post as it is very important for both study and work. Time management is the art of arranging, organising and scheduling your time to generate more effective work and productivity. In order to study effectively and efficiently, I adopt a common, but effective, time management approach.

Making clear and detailed goals, both short term (1 week) and long term (1 term), is the first step to effective time management. Usually, I start to study the exam papers I will have 3-4 months before June/December exams. The goal for the first two months is to study all the topics in the syllabus. The goal for the third month is to review the notes made in the first period and read technical articles in Student Accountant. In the final month before the exams, I do all of the previous exam papers, read examiners’ articles, summarise important topics and most importantly relate what is examined to the syllabus and technical articles.

Secondly, I make a to-do list for achieving my goals. This makes me stay organised and take control of my tasks and study. I make detailed lists, such as time and task allocation for each chapter/each exam paper and each day and week.  

Thirdly, I prioritise my time between ACCA study and my university courses. Sometimes, it’s hard to know how to prioritise, especially when I am facing a flood of seemingly-urgent tasks. However, it’s essential to learn this to manage your time better.

I use the urgent/important matrix, (like the illustration on this page) to help me determine my priorities. On scale 1 – 5, assign importance and urgency to the tasks in your to do list. Important activities have an outcome that leads to the achievement of your goals, whether these are professional or personal.

Urgent activities demand immediate attention, and are often associated with the achievement of someone else’s goals. For “critical activities”, I plan them ahead and leave some time in my schedule for unexpected events. For “important goals”, I make sure that I have plenty of time to do these things properly, so that they do not become urgent. For “interruptions”, which stops me achieving my goals, I try to reschedule or delegate them so I can focus on important activities. For “distractions”, I avoid them if possible or just ignore/cancel them.

Last but not the least, taking breaks between studying periods is crucial for achieving goals. It’s impossible for anyone to focus and produce really high-quality work without giving their brains some time to rest and recharge. So, don’t dismiss breaks as “wasting time.” Wise breaks will enable you to think creatively and work effectively. There is an old saying in Chinese “If you grind down a chopper it will not cut firewood”.

If it’s hard for you to stop working, then schedule breaks for yourself, or set an alarm as a reminder. Go for a quick walk, grab a cup of coffee, or just sit and meditate at your desk. Try to take a five minute break every hour during the study.

This article is only a suggestion of how to time manage effectively. Everyone is different, so you could always work on finding the best way for you to manage your time.


By ACCA student blogger Yani Shi

I came to the UK to study e-finance at the University of Liverpool in my third year. I studied for first two years of my course in China and am studying the last two years in the UK. I began to study ACCA in my first year of university.

My favourite part of studying in the UK is that I have enough extra-curricular time to make my own study plan, and to study ACCA. This is very different from studying in China.

As there is plenty of free time around lectures, time management is very important for both studying my university courses and ACCA. Sometimes, it’s hard to know how to prioritise, especially when I am facing a flood of seemingly-urgent tasks. I have had to learn to manage my time between the two.

In order to study effectively and efficiently, I adopt a common but effective time management approach. I make clear and detailed goals both in the short term (next week) and in the long term (next term). This the first step to effective time management.

The language

ACCA exams require good English reading and writing skills, which I found challenging. But I am really interested in accounting and want to acheive the ACCA Qualification because of its good international reputation, so I persevered. It’s a good opportunity for me to improve my English.

My English has already improved a lot after coming to the UK, so I can overcome any language obstacles more easily. I am able to understand ACCA knowledge in depth now and can express myself clearly in exams because my English skills have improved.        

Although studying in the UK is quite helpful for my ACCA studies, I miss some aspects of studying ACCA in China. When I was in China, I studied with an ACCA tuition provider. The papers are taught in both Chinese and English, so it was easy and quick for me to understand as it’s my first language. What’s more, as there are many Chinese students studying together, we discussed questions more conveniently.

The future of my career

In September I finished my master’s studies at Lancaster University. Before I came to the UK, I thought it would be good for my finance career to work in the UK before coming back to China. But I changed my mind after graduating. I’ve decided to come back to China to begin my career because the Chinese economy has grown quickly in recent years, so there is a great need for talent in the financial services sector. Therefore it is very good opportunity for me. I can use my professional knowledge, as well as my knowledge about both foreign and Chinese culture/markets to pursue a successful career.