I’m convinced that the largest part of academic success is about being organised. And it’s not just a matter of having a timetable – it’s about how you structure your time to take best advantage of your peak thinking times, and so on. And it will be more helpful for the long-term if it is not just all about studying.
Use this Template Weekly Timetable to schedule regular study periods for each of your subjects – and also make time for your personal commitments and fun activities.
STEP 1: Fill in the times that are non-negotiable. EG times you have to go to classes, work, church and/or other regular commitments.
STEP 2: Pencil in the times when your thinking is not at its best. (Be serious about this part – it’s not helpful to just pencil out the whole rest of the week!) We will return to these times later.
STEP 3: Following the advice from your lecturers about the amount of time required on average, fill in regular sessions to do the prescribed independent practice/study, and a 3-hour block (maybe longer, depending on what you’re studying) set aside during your best thinking time for preparing assignments, etc. You can use this last block of time for any subject, depending on which assignment is due next, according to your Planner, or one that you need to prepare in advance to avoid a future bottleneck due to conflict of due dates.
STEP 4: Now fill in time to prepare for each class (EG by pre-reading your text books). If there is empty space left in your timetable, use that. If not, use some of the pencilled-in time from STEP 2. The point is to do the pre-reading so that you better understand what happens during class, but you are not usually expected to understand all of the reading before the class. Therefore you can make better use of your peak performance time(s) by using it instead on the more important thinking tasks, such as assignment preparation.
STEP 5: Now fill in some down-time for each of your ‘hard work’ days. It is important to wind down and free your mind so that it too can rest.
STEP 6: Planning is only helpful if you follow it. Post your Timetable and Planner somewhere you will see it every day. If you are more comfortable with electronic reminders, set them in your phone to remind you to switch tasks; or copy your timetable into your computer’s calendar. It doesn’t matter which method you use, so long as you use it every day and actually follow the plan you’ve made for yourself.
If, after a week or so, you find that you need more or less time for something, make whatever changes you think are necessary and then update your reminders.