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Guidelines to Effective Planning

Effective planning deals with how to design a plan that is right for you, a plan based on your schedule, your interests, and your most productive times of day.  Schedule no more than 60 to 75 percent of your time.

Short Term Planning

1. Schedule fixed blocks of time first.  Start with time periods that are usually predetermined.  Other activities can then be scheduled around them.  Start with class time and work time, for example.  Then schedule other essential daily activities, such as eating and sleeping.

2. Include time for errands.  Miscellaneous errands done throughout the week are often neglected.  These little errands can destroy a tightly bound schedule and make us feel rushed all week.  Plan time for small errands, such as doing laundry and going grocery shopping.

3. Schedule time for fun.  Constantly stimulating your brain with new ideas and new challenges is important. However, your brain needs time off to digest the information.  It is important to "waste" time once in a while.

4. Set realistic goals.  Do not set yourself up for failure by "biting off more than you can chew".  Be realistic in estimating the time it will take you to complete a task.  Sometimes it is even better to overestimate.

5. Allow flexibility in your schedule.  Recognize that unexpected things will happen throughout the day and plan for the unexpected.  Leave some blocks of unplanned time in your schedule for these unexpected emergencies.

6. Study two hours for every hour in class.  It is standard advice to allow two hours of study time for every hour you spend in class.  More is expected of you, as a student, in college than in high school.  The benefits of such a strategy will be apparent at exam time.  However, this is a guideline, not an absolute rule.  Consider what is best for you.

7. Avoid scheduling marathon study sessions.  When possible, study in shorter sessions.  Shorter study sessions are more productive than one massive study session.  Your concentration level will determine the length of your study sessions.  If you must study in longer periods, work on several subjects and avoid study similar subjects back to back.  Stop and rest for a few minutes every hour.

8. Set clear starting and stopping times.  Tasks are often stretched to fill the time we allot for them. The point of setting time limits is to push ourselves a little and discover our maximum time potential.

Long Term Planning

While planning a day or week at a time is a powerful practice, seeing how your days and weeks fit into the larger picture can yield even more benefits.  Long-term planners help you remember upcoming goals and/or commitments.  This plan is designed to refresh your memory of important future events.