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Are you wondering if you will have enough time this winter to make a season ski pass worthwhile? Do you want to avoid spending hopeless hours studying the night before an exam? Follow these six steps and learn how to really control your own life using a (1) Course Requirement Worksheet, (2) Assignment List, (3) Master Schedule, (4) Weekly Schedule, (5) Daily "To Do" List (6) Semester Calendar.

Step 1. Complete Course Requirement Work Sheets (see page 5) for each of your classes at the beginning of the semester.

  • Make a copy for each course you are taking.
  • Examine your syllabus for each class (if there is one) for any information provided there.
  • Ask instructors for any missing information either in class or after class.

The Course Requirement Work Sheet provides a format for collecting the information you need to plan your semester.

Step 2. Prepare the Assignment List (see page 6) for all of your courses for the entire semester.

  • Make enough copies of the to list all of your course work for the quarter. Save a blank for future copies.
  • Fill in each specific assignment for each course. Try to keep the assignments in small units which will fit as closely as possible in a 50-minute block of time by breaking long-term assignments (like papers) into sub-parts which are listed separately. (For example: 1. develop topic; 2. library search; 3. outline; 4. first draft; 5. second draft; 6. type.) List all readings by number of pages (rather than just by topics or chapters).
  • Develop a time estimate for how long you expect each activity to take. You will probably underestimate, so begin by doubling your first guess. You can revise your estimate as you learn more about how you actually work.
  • Enter the dates when assignments (or sub-parts of assignments) should be completed.

STEP 3. Fill out a Master Schedule which contains all of the fixed or regular activities which you expect to remain the same from week to week the entire semester.

  • Enter your course schedule.
  • Enter other routine meetings and responsibilities (e.g., work, church, etc.)
  • Enter routine mealtimes, travel time, sleep, exercise, etc.
  • Enter regular time for recreation (social hobbies, athletics, private time).

By programming your time you will gain more time. This can be done in two ways; first, by doing a job in less time than it usually requires, and second, bu using leftover blocks of time that are normally wasted. By recording your fixed activities, you can visualize available blocks of time.

Step 4. Construct a Weekly Schedule. You are now ready to use copies of your Master Schedule as a base for your weekly schedule. (Be sure you make enough copies for the whole semester.)

  • Plan your activities in a time block of 50 minutes, followed by a 10 minute break.
  • Plug your study times into your schedule using your most alert times of the day for studying.
  • For a lecture-type class, use time blocks immediately after class to review notes.
  • For recitation-type class (i.e., a foreign language) use time blocks immediately before the class to keep material fresh in your mind.
  • Prioritize your most important activities into your schedule first to enable you to get them done on time. Start early.
  • Use your schedule to allow 8 hours of sleep a night and adequate time for eating a well-balanced diet. Both are vital for efficiency during the day.
  • Start by allowing at least 2 hours of study for every hour of class time. Then adjust accordingly to master your material, not just cover it.
  • After trying your schedule, make the necessary adjustments to create the best and most workable schedule for you. Some students do best with a detailed weekly schedule, or a more simplified list of things to do, or one in between. Your revision is your key to an effective schedule of living.

Step 5. Make a To Do List (See example below).
This list can be the real secret to your success if you do it every day. A 3 x 5 card that fits into your pocket for easy and frequent reference works very well. Mark the activities that have high priority today and will require some special attention. Cross each item off as it is completed during the day. Pay more attention to those marked as a high priority. Don't first go for a high percentage of tasks (that usually require less time) because you may end up with a lower
effectiveness level by accomplishing only your lower priorities.

Remember, completing your list is not as important as making the best use of your time during the day.

"To Do List"

Take package to Post Office
Pick up suit from the cleaners
Start History Project
Call bookstore re: special order
Get books from library

note: Let the phone save unnecessary trips to a store, to be sure they have what you want.

Step 6. Make a Semester Calendar.
This is a valuable method of visualizing upcoming events and responsibilities (e.g., exam dates, project dates and meeting dates, etc.). Keep it in a visible place. Don't overfill it.

Adapted from University of Utah
Learning Skills and Counseling

Last Updated: 8/17/16