Life is about balance, and a well-scheduled planner is like that long pole tightrope walkers carry to keep their balance. Don’t get me wrong, I have seen people successfully keep track of every task and appointment, class assignment and test, and social activity in their head but I always feel compelled to ask: What if you wrote all that down and left your brain free to soak up and remember more important things? That is why, today, I will be giving you a step by step on how to create a perfectly scheduled planner.
So, how should you create your study schedule? Here is how I would break it down:
- Schedule your sleep and self-care
- Schedule your classes
- Schedule your extracurricular activities
- Schedule your study time
- Schedule you housekeeping tasks
- Schedule social events
Using this method, you’ll be able to easily map out when and where to get your most important tasks done and see all your left-over time for the fun stuff!
This is one subject that I have done years of research on; if you want to know how to fit in 36 to 48 hours of study time on top of 12 hours of class time every week, I am here for you. Not only will you be a start student this semester, but if you hear me out and take my advice, you will be well-rested, rocking the self-care game and properly socialized.
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Preparing to Create Your Study Schedule
This is a really easy process to follow, but that doesn’t mean it’s not going to take some work. You are going to need some supplies.
Get a scratchpad and writing utensil. You can use whatever scrap paper you want; this first phase is just a bit of pre-planning. Next, get whatever scheduling app or journal that you use (I recommend the Moleskine Classic Notebook, link here for more info). If you don’t have one, I suggest using Google Calendar because it is easy to map-out and rearrange time blocks as needed, and you can color code. Lastly, get your class schedule, practice schedule, etc.
Now, take a few minutes to daydream about your perfect week. What will you want to have had accomplished? Obviously, you want to have had a successful week in school, go to all your classes, be prepared for each class, do the appropriate amount of studying, etc. But what we are asking ourselves here is: what else?
School is your priority, but what is something else that would make you feel extra accomplished? You may already have that, a team, or a club. Maybe it’s to be social and to go out more, or maybe it’s to read more. Either way, think about it. Just because school is your priority doesn’t mean you should stop growing in all other aspects of your life.
Just do a little mind map or list out some goals to keep in mind as we go through this exercise. If you are new to mind-mapping, check out our article on how to mindmap at the link below:
When you get to the end and can see where to use up some extra time, remember your scratch paper. Now for the actual scheduling.
Fill in Sleep (7 to 9 Hours a Night) and Self-Care (2 to 3 Hours a Day)
As I remember it, I was always told in high school that we should be getting 6-8 hours of sleep every night. Now, it’s said we need 7-9 hours every night. You probably already have a clue about how much you, personally, need so schedule that amount in and adjust as necessary. This is step number one because it is the absolute most important. If you need a full 9 hours of sleep, you can still go to bed at midnight and be up and ready for the day before 10 AM. It’s not hard at all to get sleep; it’s a matter of priority. Writing it on the calendar is the first step to making it a priority.
Self-care is the second half of this section, again this one isn’t hard, and hopefully, it’s already part of your daily routine. I think self-care is a little confusing these days; I don’t mean that you have to go out and take a spa day or weekend retreat, although if you want to, then absolutely do that. Self-care is all the little things that add up to us being physically and mentally well. Daily rituals that nourish and refresh us.
You should schedule some time to eat properly. I don’t expect you to go all out and stop eating all processed foods, but it only takes a few minutes to cook an egg in the microwave, which is so much better for you than a pop tart. Same with lunch and dinner, set aside at least 20 to 30 minutes to eat something real for each meal.
Shower every single day, at least jump in for 5 minutes and scrub your smelly areas. I’m going to assume that most people do usually spend about 20 minutes in the shower and up to 45 minutes on a regular basis. Give or take a little because we are all different. Also, brush your teeth twice a day, every day. Floss too! It’s only about 5 minutes twice a day; literally, you spend more time waiting in line at Starbucks.
Last but not least, and certainly not just for women, is skincare. This can be as simple as splashing some water on your face once a day. If you shower in the AM, then just wash your face off before bed. Of course, if you have a 5-step skincare ritual, then remember to do it. I also recommend taking a few more minutes to moisturize your skin. Our skin is our largest organ, and as we know, our organs need water to function properly. So, lotion up to keep skin hydrated and drink water throughout the day. This is also where you should schedule in the thing that will help you grow as a person, the thing that you do or want to do to feed your soul.
Class Schedule: 12 hours a Week in Class
Obviously, going to class is non-negotiable, so schedule in your class times. This step is easy. Just copy your class schedule into your planner. Don’t forget to fill in commute times; whether it takes you an hour or 15 minutes to get to class, mark it down in your planner. You don’t want to lose any precious minutes due to faulty planning.
Fill in any Other Pre-registered Responsibilities/Commitments
Things like team sports practices and games or club meetings. Also, any big events like your birthday, if you know you want to go out and celebrate write it down so when that week comes up you, will make sure to get your study hours done early.
Fill in Study Time: 24 to 36 Hours a Week
For every credit hour, you will spend 2 or 3 hours studying, so for 1 class, basically 3 hours of class; you will need to spend at least six extra hours studying that class, 9 hours of study if it’s a hard class. So, to break this down on a weekly scale, if you are taking 12 credit hours, 4 classes, then you will be studying 24 to 36 hours every week. Yes, that is equivalent to working a full-time job, that’s why its full-time college. I realize that this may come as a shock, but some of your days will be 8-9 hours of brain intensive work. Again, this is why we scheduled sleep first; there is no way to successfully maintain this type of daily in-depth thinking without proper sleep.
One thing to keep in mind as you start to fill in your white space with study time is that you really want to pick out chunks of time 1 to 2 hours long. This gives you time to get focused and stay focused without feeling pressed for time. You even have time to take a few breaks to keep your mind fresh. That is not to say you can’t make great use of 20 minutes. If you make flashcards or keep good notes, you can get in a serious review in just 20 minutes. Just take a look at your free time and plug-in study where it makes sense.
The best time to study each class is right after the lecture. If you have a day where you only have one class scheduled, then this will be easy, just hang out on campus for about an hour and go over your notes. Most days, you will have more than just one class going on, but I suggest you do the same thing. If you have an hour between classes, use it to review what you just learned. Go through the chapter and just skim the bold words or any special asides in the text. Basically, just become a little bit more familiar with the lesson. And if you have classes back to back all day, then I suggest you take your school stuff up to wherever your favorite place to eat is, and review over dinner.
So as of right now, not including commute times or any extracurricular activities if you do everything on the low end of the time scale, you have spent 15 of your 24 hours per day. If you are using the maximum amount of time, then you have spent 20 of your 24 hours per day. These numbers are based on a six-day per week schedule with one day completely unscheduled so far. This isn’t bad at all; you have anywhere between 4 and 9 hours every single day to commute to and from classes and do any extracurricular activates you have plus a whole day “off”.
This is a good time to mention that not every week will average out perfectly, like our example here. Some days you will put in more work and some days you will put in less. The same goes for the weekly and monthly scale; some weeks and even months will be a breeze, and sometimes you will hit a really hard chapter and have to put in lots of extra hours to get through. Or you may get sick for a few days and loose time lots of hours. Just keep in mind that you have to be flexible to an extent, but don’t skimp on yourself or your studies.
Housekeeping Tasks: 30 Minutes to 1 Hour Per Day
Housekeeping is much easier to manage, depending on your living situation. Whether this is simply doing your laundry and picking up your space or it includes things like grocery shopping as well, chances are, you have some housekeeping tasks. Also, going over your schedule regularly and making solid plans each week to accomplish your goals is a housekeeping task. These things take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour a day, but you can do them on a daily basis or every other day or all on your chosen day off.
Depending on your introvert/extrovert scale, you may need to either add more to this category or less. It really isn’t good to go weeks on end without talking to your best friend just for fun or seeing your mom for lunch. And it obviously won’t work out well for you if you’re trying to spend all night every night out socializing. This is an area where you have to really assess your schedule and yourself and come up with a good-for-you balance of social activities. If you have no idea where to start, I suggest a few hours of pure social fun per week.
Things to Remember:
This isn’t set in stone. Well, some of it is, but if you have gotten all the way here and realize that there is literally not enough time in the day to do all the things you have signed up for, then you need to cut some activities out. This is another reason we did the daydreaming exercise; if you have gotten clear on your priorities, then you already know what area you need to spend less time in.
You will mess up; it’s ok. Try again. This will work for you, but you must put in the groundwork first. Only you can sit down and plan out a schedule that works for you.
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