Creating a Weekly Schedule – this one skill can turn your college life around faster than almost anything else you may try.
A full time Job:
College is now your full-time job; act accordingly and responsibly. If you think 40 hours a week to commit to your school work is too much, think about your working parents. Most working adults work 40 hours each week and still have time off every evening and every weekend.
Many college freshmen feel like they’re studying every hour they can and every weekend. That their life is nothing but work, work, work. The reality is more likely that they have mismanaged their time or wasted great chunks of time without even realizing it.
Paper or electronic? For this first schedule do not use an electronic scheduling software because you will spend more time learning the software and not the time management skills. Later, you can switch to a more sophisticated calendar if it is one that you will use and update everyday for a couple of minutes. Most smart phones, gmail, iPad, Google, all have good electronic calendars that may work for you after you have learned how to make a good schedule that you can easily update as your week changes with unexpected events or when you have not given enough time for particular projects.
You can do this first schedule using the blank form to print out of using Excel with the template to only fill in the boxes for the hours each day. If you are not familiar with Excel, then print the form and use paper; later you can be shown how to do it in Excel without having to really learn the software other than enough to complete your schedule.
- This is not surprising since freshmen suddenly find themselves having to do all the things they did in high school plus all the things their parents and family did for them as well. Try creating a schedule and following it, correcting it when you need to shift events, and doing it again the following week. A schedule is only effective if you prepare it and improve it each week until you master this skill which may take a several weeks. Use your Mentor to assist in preparing Look over the following example of a weekly schedule. You can click on the following link to see a full size version of the table below for easier reading. Notice that every hour is accounted for as is almost every activity; dark gray is sleep time, white is free (unscheduled) time
- Print a blank copy and either complete it for yourself on paper, or you may fill in your electronic schedule/calendar it is much easier and quicker to update each week. Carry your schedule with you, and update it daily as things change or unexpected things come up (even fun things).
- Anticipate a 40-hour work-week. This means if you are taking 15 academic hours, you should be putting in 25 hours outside of class at a minimum.
- Differentiate the time slots for study, homework, group study, reading, research, lab reports, and any other academic time including tutoring and office visits with instructors.
- Include sleep time, meal times, un-scheduled time (can be shifted to make up work later or deal with unexpected changes or unexpected invitations to have fun. Unscheduled time should not automatically be given over to fun unless all other work is up-to-date first.
- Do not schedule study times that exceed 1 hour per subject or for multiple subjects but break out each subject separately. Putting a 2 to 4 hour study block generally leads to massive amounts of procrastination. Instead, label each hour by subject and activity – “Read history chapters” “Complete Chem Lab Report” “Work Calc homework problems.”Don’t forget how short your attention span really is.
- Put in any tests or assignment due dates and make sure that you have plenty of time the day before to have completed the work, reviewed it, and studied for the exam without staying up all night.
- Make sure that every hour of every day in the week is accounted for. Do this for an upcoming week.
- Total (add up) the number of hours devoted to school, study, and other academic effort. If you do not have 40 hours scheduled, consider that your commitment to college may not be as strong as you think.
- When someone asks you out or to go do something fun, check your schedule first to make sure you aren’t forgetting an assignment, test, or a meeting.
- Never assume that your sleep time (aim for 9 hours/night) is free time for making up for poor time management. Notice that most adults work 40+ hours and still manage to have time for fun, family, and household responsibilities.
- Each week write a short reflection that you can share with another person of how your time management went, if it succeeded or failed and why. If you underestimated the time required for various activities, try to be more accurate for the next week.
This weekly reflection on your developing time management skills should ideally be shared with another person who values your skill development attempts.