Organization is often the bête noire of students. One of the first things to do in order not to get overwhelmed by your various activities and to avoid forgetting the important dates is to establish a schedule or a timetable. This easy-to-use tool is essential to allow you to visualize your semester and the time you have to complete your homework or prepare for your exams, which is essential to stay motivated and productive.
Part 1 of 3: Before completing your schedule
Step 1. Write down everything you have to do during this semester in a draft
Take the time to sit down and think about it and make a list of all the tasks you need to accomplish in the coming months or weeks. By making a list of all your responsibilities, deadlines and dates to remember before you even create the blank schedule, you make your job easier.
- Think about everything that will occupy your weeks: classes, extra work, household chores, sports activities, etc. In short, everything you do regularly and at fixed times during the academic year.
- Don't forget birthdays and holidays!
- It's almost inevitable that you will forget some things at this point, but don't worry, you can always add them back to your schedule later.
Step 2. Wait until you have attended your first classes to find out what types of assignments you will have to hand in and when
You should also have your semester and homework dates on the table. Usually, this information is given from the first class and you may be able to find it online on your student portal if your university or school makes one available to you.
Step 3. Ask yourself what time of your day is the best for studying
Think about it seriously: are you more effective in the morning or in the evening? When do you prefer to work, ideally? This is an element to take into account when planning your weeks and days.
Try to ignore other activities that occupy you here, such as your student job. Just ask yourself what time of day you study best
Step 4. Choose the medium on which you will create your schedules and timetables
You can do them freehand, on sheets of paper, or on a computer spreadsheet. There are even mobile phone apps.
- Spreadsheet software such as Excel or Numbers are very practical. Word processing software is also helpful, providing ready-made templates to fill out.
- There are also websites where you can create a timetable. For English speakers, the My Study Life site is free and very comprehensive. It even offers an app for your phone.
- Even if you work a lot on your computer or on your phone, a paper version of your schedule may still be the best solution for you, especially if you are not allowed to bring your computer or tablet to class..
- There are advantages and disadvantages to both types of media. Your digital schedule will be easier to layout and edit, but a paper schedule makes it easier to make small, quick changes or annotations. If you value colors and personalization, you will also have more freedom on paper.
- You can combine the two by creating a schedule template on a computer and printing it as many times as needed (you can create a schedule by semester, month or week) before adding dates and freehand appointments. above.
Step 5. Prepare the grid to fill
A weekly schedule is presented in the form of a table with one column for each "day of the week" and rows for all "hours or half-hours of the day".
- If you are working on paper, you need to draw the board by hand. You can use lined paper for your convenience or white paper for maximum readability. In all cases, draw the lines with a ruler for more cleanliness.
- The big downside to the handmade schedule is that it is really painful to make big changes to it once it's drawn. Even if you do everything in pencil, if you have to change the columns or add more rows, you might have to start all over again or get your sheet dirty, which is not very pleasant. And if you need to redo the board for every week or every month, you will quickly get bored.
Part 2 of 3: Develop the schedule
Step 1. Decide on the type of schedule that works best for you
If your weeks are always the same, you can only do one schedule for the entire semester. Alternatively, you can prepare a basic template, duplicate it so that you have one copy per week to complete differently each time. Prepare all copies at the same time.
- If you have chosen to fill one schedule per week, start by indicating the dates when you are due for your homework and exams. Indeed, it is according to these dates that you will organize the rest of your time.
- Go over your list of everything you need to include on your schedule so you don't forget anything. First add any activities that come up on a fixed date, such as sports sessions. Once you have added this, you can organize your study slots on free time, prioritizing the times when you are most efficient.
- Don't forget the events, birthdays and holidays that will affect your organization.
Step 2. Incorporate compulsory study periods into your schedule
Better to plan long enough beaches of 2 to 4 hours. It will help you discipline yourself and be more productive.
- You can still study for shorter periods. If you have a lot of small three-quarters of an hour or one hour free time slots, don't hesitate to book them for study.
- The most demanding classes will require more time to work at home than the others. Think about it by spreading your study hours over the week.
Step 3. Remember to include moments of relaxation
It is essential to take breaks to be more efficient. You are not a robot and you cannot maintain your maximum concentration for hours at a time. It is much more productive to schedule regular breaks.
Scientific studies have shown that you are more focused if you work in 45-minute increments separated by 15-minute breaks. But, of course, we're all different, so find out which pace works best for you
Step 4. Be as specific as possible
You know what courses you have and when and how much work you need to do for each one. Calculate the number of hours you need per week for each lesson and assign each work slot to a specific lesson.
- Expect to have to change your initial organization during the semester. Just because you have carefully planned everything back to school does not mean that you should not review certain things after two months. However, don't let the principle of planning down, because it is still the best way to visualize what you have to do. In particular, it allows you to distribute the workload of the biggest jobs over several weeks evenly.
- If you have classes with weekly homework assignments, it's a good idea to allocate one or more specific time slots for those assignments. If you consistently have 20 math problems to solve every week, for example, spread the workload over the week, at specific times.
Step 5. Over a study window of several hours, plan to work on several different subjects rather than just one
Variety will prevent you from exhausting yourself and having no energy to do anything else afterwards.
Of course, as you approach a partial, you will need to adjust your schedule to allow more room for necessary revisions
Step 6. Take care of the look of your schedule
Make reading easier with color codes: a color for a subject or activity, for example. You will find your way around much more easily. And take care of your writing. In short, personalize your schedule!
For a planning on paper, use colored pencils. You can also print your schedule in color if you do so on the computer. Internet applications have predetermined color codes, but some give you the flexibility to customize them somewhat
Part 3 of 3: Use the schedule effectively
Step 1. Force yourself to stick to your schedule
It takes some practice, but you will find that it is worth the effort. If you can discipline yourself enough to study at the times scheduled on your schedule, it will become a habit that will make your life easier.
Step 2. Don't go overboard
It's okay if you don't stick to your schedule to the minute. You have to keep a certain flexibility: the important thing is to be efficient. Use it to discipline yourself, but don't stress if you can't keep it to the letter.
Step 3. Tailor your schedule to your needs
At first it can be difficult to find the right pace, so change your schedule until you find what works best for you. It would be a shame to give it all up because you realize that you have a few tweaks to make to get everything better.
- If you feel like you're going to be overwhelmed making a schedule for each week of class, start by creating one that doesn't change from week to week. It will be a little less flexible, but not useless for all that.
- Use the internet to find free patterns. There are hundreds of them on Flickr and Pinterest.