The independence in college is great until you discover that the nagging your parents provided really did have some value. Now that you are on your own, you need to be your own nag. One way to do this is by preparing a checklist of all of the things you plan to do that day. A sample checklist is attached. Planning your day is so important to you as a student in the first year of school. It will set the standard for your organization the rest of your time in school. You should start from day one of school, by figuring out where your classes are and by using the syllabus to know when major projects and exams will be to plan your time accordingly. You need to use your free time wisely, whether that is catching up with some friends or studying for a test. Something important that you should fit into your schedule too is physical fitness. It will keep your body healthy and release endorphins that will make you feel better in all areas. Trying to find a friend who has the same interests as you will also really help. Another tip you should do is create a planning calendar. On this calendar you should put all the dates of tests, quizzes, and any other important assignments. Planning your days will help relieve stress and help your day go by more smoothly.
The checklist is broken up into four categories:
- Classes – list each class you need to attend. Don’t forget to include labs.
- Homework – list homework you plan to do that day. Don’t forget to include partial work on assignments that are likely to take several days to do (e.g. projects, papers).
- Other academic activities – These would include such activities as study labs/groups, observations, lectures, advising appointments, team meetings, etc.
- Personal – These include fun things and things you need to do as a person rather than as a student. Typical activities in this category could include working out, hanging out with friends, playing games, going to sports event, laundry, shopping, a medical appointment, etc.
- Make sure you leave plenty of time for sleep and set a time to be in bed. Sleeping is key to success in college. It not only helps you feel rested, it helps you to be more focused.
The most important thing about planning your day is time management. In college you have to get the most time out of your day as possible. A good way to do that is to break up your checklist into hour increments. Not all of your day’s activities will take exactly an hour, but it is best to estimate, as realistically as possible, how long things will take. If you have an activity that takes more than an hour, plan for it to take 2 hours. If you finish early, begin your next activity.
Getting ready for class, traveling to and from class, eating, etc., are also important to think about when planning your time. When you have more important things to do, other than classes, schedule them earlier in the day to ensure that they get done.
Although scheduling your day is very important, there are always things you cannot anticipate or plan for. This is why prioritizing is also very helpful. Set aside more time for things such as projects, assignments, major requirements, and studying. The earlier you get these things done, the earlier you will be able to go have fun and hang out with your friends. But make sure you dedicate as much time as necessary to ensure your success. Taking naps is important to include in your schedule when needed, but you shouldn’t nap for longer than 20 minutes at a time. If you nap too long you will tend to be less productive.
Here’s how to develop and use your checklist:
- Each night before you go to bed, record items on your checklist for the next day. Often doing this before you go to sleep will help you get things together for the next day. Since some students get up at the last minute, deferring the checklist until the morning can lead to not completing all of what you need to do.
- Develop a study schedule. Plan time to review your notes and do homework between or after classes. Allotting a certain amount of time for homework and studies will allow you to keep on track with all of your assignments.
- Make up a notebook with the planning lists in them for each day of the semester. When you get a homework assignment in a class, record the assignment and the due date in your planning list as soon as possible to make sure that you don’t forget about it. This way, when you look over your planning list you will see the assignment and figure out the best time to get it done.
- Also, it might be helpful to have a white board in your room to record all of your upcoming assignments and their due dates. This way, you can plan your days based on the assignments on the white board.
- When you finish an item, check the item off of your check list. If you did things that were not on your list, add these to the list.
- If you don’t complete an item, record a comment as to why you did not complete the activity.
- Give yourself a grade for how well you planned and executed your day. You should use an A-F grading system with plusses and minuses.
- Make a list of important dates that will be in the near future such as date reminders for an upcoming exam in 2 weeks or a project due in a week. This will help you plan out your day more effectively as you can work ahead on the assignments due in the near future.
- After each week, ask yourself these questions:
- Did I plan to do too much?
- Did I plan to do too little?
- What could I have done differently to reach all the items on checklist?
- How can I become more efficient in completing assignments?
- Use your grade, and the answers to these questions to determine how you can improve.
- Don’t forget to put in time for yourself. Studying too much can put a lot of stress on one self.
- Be sure that the grade you give yourself reflects how well you perform your daily activities, and also take into consideration how you can improve this grade.
- Eliminate outside factors that would have a negative effect on your performance. Also, determine what factors have a positive effect on your performance’s outcome for that week.
- Add factors that affect you or your performance’s outcome positively. Surround yourself with motivating friends, or perhaps activities
- Have a study buddy who will help you study and keep you on track 12. Adjust your planning according to your responses.
- To reinforce what you have done in planning your day, teach someone else how to do this. Teaching someone how to do something is the best way to learn for yourself.
The planning that you have done in this topic assumes that all activities have equal value. Obviously that’s not the case. In Planning Your Day – II, you’ll see how to set priorities for activities.
Sample Daily Plan