How to Improve your Planning Skills (Student Edition)
We all start the new semester with high hopes and expectations for ourselves while thinking back of the results we got from the previous one that were not that satisfying, for a great number of reasons. Yeah, I know what you are thinking; It will go the same way this semester too, right? But, how can you plan your study time more efficiently so you can see better results? The key is planning and time management.
When it comes to students and how they organize and plan things regarding their studying, we see how they tend to fail to put together a realistic plan, or establish a routine, that will allow them to achieve academic success.
There are a limited number of hours in a day, days in a week, and weeks in a term so, if you don’t pay attention, the end of the semester will knock on your door before you know it, and catch you by surprise. In order to achieve the targeted success for this year, you must be careful to not skip time managing and scheduling on a daily basis.
In this blog, we are going to talk about how to be a good planner and improve organizing skills for students.
● Term/Semester Calendar
First step to take we suggest creating a calendar that covers the entire term, before you start getting heavily involved with studying and other activities. Your term calendar can look totally like a regular monthly calendar or you can opt for a different customized format. All it matters is that the calendar should outline the tests with their dates, all of the assignments with their due dates, all school activities and all out-of-school and extracurricular activities.
● Weekly Schedule
Differently from the term calendar that is usually planned out entirely at the beginning of the term, weekly schedules are prepared at the beginning of each week. Every end of the week on sunday, sit down and prepare the next week's new schedule. Even though you prepare it at the beginning of the week, you have to update it as the week progresses and new items arise. Here are some steps on planning a weekly schedule:
Here you incorporate the term calendar to prepare the weekly schedule by writing down each class you will have for each day for a week.
Mark down items that need to be completed (have a due-date), or that are occurring that week including tests, assignments, events, etc.
Don’t forget to go back on the previous weeks’ schedule to see if anything is carrying over and you need to add it to this week’s schedule.
Add all the extracurricular and out-of-school activities you’ll be participating during the week so it does not clash with any important assignments’ due date or test day.
Note down the day and the time for all the assignments, work group projects and study sessions you will have to complete during the week.
● Daily Schedule
You think a term calendar and a weekly schedule will be enough and sufficient to effectively manage your time and improve your planning skills? Well, think again. You also will need a daily schedule. Each evening after you finish with the day, prepare a mini daily schedule for the next day. Place check mark squares next to each item and after it is completed mark check. Follow these simple steps to prepare an efficient daily schedule:
Mark down everything based on the weekly schedule that you have to complete that day.
Jot down items from the previous day that were not completed and need to be completed the next day.
Don’t forget to write down due-dates and tests based on the term calendar and weekly schedule.
● Deadlines are an excuse
We heard many people saying that they work better under the pressure of deadlines but, unfortunately, researchers have concluded that this is rarely true.
It is indicated that it is much better to improve your planning and organizing skills, and prevent unexpected delays and diversions. However, if you think that a task will take a certain time to be completed, always add another 20% or more. Actually, play it like a game of getting it done well and in advance of the deadline. We ensure you will be amazed at how much more relaxed you are going to be, and how much better a job you are going to do when you stop procrastinating.
● Prioritize your assignments
As you progress through your education, you will conclude that some study topics will become more complex, the school and teachers will be more demanding and the material more challenging. When you start with college, there won’t be enough time in the day to get everything done and completed.
You have to start the habit of beginning your studying sessions with the most difficult and important task first. If you go about the hardest and most demanding subjects or tasks first, while you are still fresh and energized, it will make everything much easier and organised.
● Practice the “triage” strategy
This is a method that dates way back in World War I and was developed by the French army. When the place was in chaos and the lines were flooded with so many wounded soldiers that waited to be treated by the doctors and the nurses, they seemed to solve the problem by dividing them in three groups. The first group were the soldiers that would die, no matter the treatment. They were placed aside and made comfortable. The second group included those who had only mild wounds and that would survive whether they got immediate treatment or not and they were also put aside. The third group were the ones that would survive only if they received immediate treatment by the doctors and all the focus and attention was on them.
While you plan and organize your studying, for effective time management, try using the triage method by dividing assignments and projects in three groups and stay focused on the ones that need to be solved and completed immediately.
● Create blocks of study time
After you create a dedicated study space, you should schedule dedicated study time–blocks of time where you focus on your studies for a selected period of time and then do some minutes of breaks. Blocks around 40 to 50 minutes are ideal, but may do longer or shorter ones based on the subject and your ability to focus. It's okay to take short study breaks for a snack, or just to get up and walk around, but make sure to return to your studies again after you relax.
● Try to be flexible
Don’t pressure yourself because you can’t plan for everything. Unexpected obstacles can pop up, so plan accordingly and try to be flexible. Just make sure to get back on track and maintain your schedule. If you seem to not be able to plan and organize effectively, try asking some experts for help. I’m sure they are called experts for a reason and will assist you to be the best version of yourself when it comes to studying and provide you with great results.