During my first year of studying architecture at university, I was quite surprised by the volume of work that we were asked to produce over such a short period of time. I was really enjoying everything that we were doing, but I did find myself thinking that the workload was notable and that I didn’t have enough time to complete it. Upon reflection, this is understandable. Architecture is a demanding degree only because it requires an understanding and application of many different aspects when designing a building. These include studio design, technology, communications and, history and theory. This is where good time management came into play. The workload can seem overwhelming, as it did to me and many of my coursemates, but if you manage your time correctly, it becomes more and more attainable.
Keeping up with all the modules.
The architecture course at the University of Plymouth is made up of 4 modules: Design Studio, Communications, Technology and, History, Theory and Critical Context. Each of these modules have their own set of requirements and deadlines over the year. I have found that splitting up my time over the different modules was quite difficult at first. It is easy to spend more time working on things that seem easier or are more enjoyable. For me, Design Studio has always been the module that I find the easiest to focus on. I have had to plan out my time so that I get the other modules completed.
I have found that printing off the briefs for the individual modules and highlighting their requirements helps me to keep on top of all the work. I also end up writing lists upon lists of things to do and cross them off every time that I complete a task. This means that I am always aware of the work that still needs completing before the deadline comes around.
Working from home vs working in the studio
Working closely with your coursemates can be beneficial. You can exchange ideas to help with your projects and keep you on track with your work. The course is set up so that there are days which include lectures or tutorials and then days left free for self-directed work. I used to spend the majority of the self-directed time working at home. Then, in the final semester of second year, I decided it was a good idea to change that and join the others in my group by going into the studio 5 days a week to work. This was great for multiple reasons. In terms of time management, I could see what stage all my coursemates were at, which really pushed me to keep up and meant that I had less work to do closer to the deadline. We shared ideas and advice that really helped our projects grow and it didn’t take long for us realize that everyone was in the same position, so the work seemed less overwhelming. The studio provided enough space for making large models and set up an environment in which we learnt more by working as a team, preparing us for practice as projects are team based. Working in the studio also meant that my house and room were a place where I could relax and not think about work. This work-life balance is a lifestyle that our tutors advocate.
Producing work for tutorials/interim reviews
The picture above shows the large volume of group work that our group put together for our first interim review. It is helpful to produce as much work as you can for these tutorials and interim reviews with your tutors, as the interim review is an opportunity to receive valuable feedback in order to improve your work and also gives you a sense of what needs to be done for the final submission. If you bring more work to these sessions, the tutors have more content to comment on. This makes the feedback more beneficial. I was amazed by how much work we were producing as a group, by working together in studio to develop our projects. Below is a photo that shows our second interim submission which was just over a month after the first interim.
It’s not over until it’s over
Throughout the first year, I found myself working right up until the deadlines and submitting work within the final minutes. It always felt like I was leaving everything too late, but over time I noticed that everyone else was doing the same. I think that this is because architecture coursework is never perfect and, if you still have time to work on it, the project can always be tweaked and improved. I have learnt that the more work you do in advance, the less stressful the tweaking becomes when the deadline is getting closer and closer. My time management skills for coursework have improved massively over the past two years, but there is still plenty of room to improve. The deadlines have always been stressful, and I feel that they always will be, but I have the same feeling of relief after every deadline and I am proud of the work that I produce.