Semester and Weekly Planning
Custom designing your semester is crucial to promoting your academic success. As a student, there are many demands on your time academically, professionally, personally, and socially. Check out these tips to take charge of your schedule and stay on top of your studies for a less stressful semester!
Check out our visual resource for Planning Your Success Strategy below!
1. Always start by looking at the big picture.
Use a calendar to create a full semester visual of all your academic and personal commitments. Recording your important dates for the semester will give you an overview of your obligations and help you identify and plan for busy weeks.
- Use the University diary to input important dates related to course registration, last days to add/drop courses, fee due dates, etc.
- Use your course syllabus to input the due dates of assignments, exam dates, important course content dates, etc.
- Add personal commitment dates such as doctor/dentist appointments, social activities, your birthday, etc.
- Don’t forget to include university-related activities and social events! Including these in your calendar will allow you to plan your time to meet deadlines while still taking part in life outside the classroom. Check out Student Life events for opportunities to add to your calendar this semester.
Make your calendar work for you by having it accessible - put it somewhere you can see it every day. We recommend finding one tool and sticking with it for the whole semester. This could be done through Google Calendar with alerts, a large printed calendar on your wall, or using the ASC’s semester planner (Fall 2023 .pdf or Fall 2023 .doc)
2. Focus on the week ahead.
- First, schedule all your day-to-day activites that are time-specific; i.e. classes, labs, meetings, work, volunteer shifts, and social events.
- Next, schedule all of your weekly tasks that are more flexible, but need to be done that week; i.e. studying, course readings, school work, and laundry.
- Tip: schedule your study time when you know you will be most productive. If you’re a morning person, try to avoid scheduling late-night study sessions, as you’ll likely be tired and have difficulty focusing.
- Keep your study sessions (blocks of 1-2 hours studying per 1 hour of class) spread throughout the week to maintain focus, allow for study breaks, and have flexibility within your schedule.
- Don’t forget to schedule some relaxation time as well!
Whether you do this daily or weekly, create a to-do list and prioritize your tasks as those that need to be done immediately, soon, or can wait. When deciding which tasks to prioritize, consider which are due first, are more difficult, are worth the most marks, and will help achieve your weekly goals. Be sure to craft your goals so that they are S.M.A.R.T: specific, measurable, actionable, realistic and time-defined. Learning to prioritize tasks is essential to managing your time effectively and completing your work in an achievable way.
Try our resource on developing S.M.A.R.T goals to accomplish and prioritize your goals each week.
4. Make it work for you!
Review your schedule or task list regularly to make sure it’s working for you. It takes patience and practice to find the time management system that best suits you.
- Having trouble sticking to your weekly plan?
- Make sure you’re realistic about the time you’ve allocated to tasks. If you don’t like to schedule by the hour, try a prioritized task list. Reflect on your week and identify when you were most productive and what you may unexpectedly be losing time to.
- New items with no notice keep popping up?
- First, double-check the syllabus and your online course calendar to ensure there aren’t dates that were overlooked. Next, designate a few weekly flex hours as “flex/TBD” to preplan for these unexpected course demands. This way, you can maximize your efficiency to stay on top of your coursework and create bonus free flex time if that week no TBD hours get claimed.
- Can’t stay awake while studying?
- Sleep should be a priority and is easy to overlook when scheduling. A tired brain is not an efficient brain. Be sure to honestly reflect on when you are most efficient; not everyone is a night owl, and not everyone is an early bird! Make your schedule reflect your sleep needs and truly invest in good sleep habits.
- At a loss when it comes to knowing how much time everything needs?
- Try using the workload estimator 2.0 created by Wake Forest University. It helps you determine the total hours needed for class attendance, reading assignments, writing assignments, watching online tutorials/lectures, creating online discussion posts, and more.
Planning Your Success Strategy [Visual Resource]
Feel like you have more commitments than hours in your day? If you missed the ASC's WebEx session for planning your success strategy, feel free to use our resource below:
Algonquin College of Applied Arts and Technology. (2021a, June 3). Creating a semester plan. Algonquin College of Applied Arts and Technology. https://algonquincollege.libguides.com/studyskills/semesterPlan
Algonquin College of Applied Arts a Technology. (2021b, June 3). What is a weekly schedule? Algonquin College of Applied Arts and Technology. https://algonquincollege.libguides.com/studyskills/weeklySchedule
LeDrew, C., & Ryan, B. (n.d.). Managing your time and dealing with procrastination. Memorial University of Newfoundland: Blundon Center. [Video]. Retrieved December 6, 2021 from https://ysu-na.youseeu.com/spa/external-player/1887190/9fac40de1423ce33316a69a1e7ed657a/styled?lti-scope=d2l-resource-syncmeeting-list/
Oregon State University. (n.d.a). Make better schedules. Oregon State University: Academic Success Center. Retrieved December 6, 2021 from https://success.oregonstate.edu/learning/better-schedules
Oregon State. (n.d.b). Time budget sheet. Oregon State; Academic Success Center. Retrieved December 6, 2021 from https://success.oregonstate.edu/sites/success.oregonstate.edu/files/LearningCorner/Tools/time_budget_-_fill_-_20.pdf
Oregon State University. (n.d.c). Weekly calendar. Oregon State University: Academic Success Center. Retrieved December 6, 2021 from https://success.oregonstate.edu/sites/success.oregonstate.edu/files/LearningCorner/Tools/weekly_calendar_-_fill_-_20.pdf
Purdue University. (n.d.a). Due and to-do. Purdue University: Academic Success Center. Retrieved December 6, 2021 from https://www.purdue.edu/asc/handouts_pdf/Due%20and%20To-Do.pdf
Purdue University. (n.d.b). Prioritizing matrix. Purdue University: Academic Success Center. Retrieved December 6, 2021 from https://www.purdue.edu/asc/handouts_pdf/Prioritizing%20Matrix.pdf
University of Lethbridge. (n.d.). Homework and free time calculator. University of Lethbridge: Student Success Centre. Retrieved December 6, 2021 from https://www.ulethbridge.ca/sites/default/files/Time%20Management%20Calculator.pdf
Barre, B., Brown, A., & Esarey, J. (n.d.). Workload estimator 2.0. Wake Forest University. Retrieved December 1, 2021 from https://cat.wfu.edu/resources/tools/estimator2/
Western University. (n.d.a). Managing your time. Western University: Learning development & success. Retrieved December 6 2021 from https://www.uwo.ca/sdc/learning/selfhelp/skill_building_handouts/PDFs/Time%20Management%20Strategies/Managing%20Your%20Time.pdf
Western University. (n.d.b). Time management self-assessment. Western University: Learning development & success. Retrieved December 6, 2021 from https://www.uwo.ca/sdc/learning/selfhelp/assess_your_skills/time_management_selfassessment.html