Being successful academically requires a careful and effective utilization of time. Students are typically in class for 7 hours per day. Additionally, they are expected to average two to three hours of homework, depending on the course level. This means that at least a 45-hour workweek is involved in being a full-time student. On top of that, many students have part-time jobs, family, and social responsibilities.
One of the best techniques for developing more efficient habits for the use of time is to prepare a time schedule. Studies have shown that people who have a well-designed schedule achieve a greater amount of success than those who don’t.
The most successful system for most students is to combine long and short-range planning. Doing so, a student can make a general schedule for an entire marking period and then create a more specific plan for several days at a time.
Time Scheduling Strategies
Long Term Schedule
Construct a schedule of your fixed commitments only, only those obligations that you are required to meet every week (job hours, classes, church, club meetings, etc.).
Intermediate Schedule - One per week
Now make a short list of major events and the amount of work to be accomplished in each class this week. This may include non-study activities. For example:
- Quiz Wednesday
- Paper Tuesday
- Ball game Tuesday night
- Finish 20 pages in English by Friday
- Finish 30 pages in history by Friday
Short Term Schedule - One per day
On a small note card each evening before retiring, or early in the morning, write out a specific, daily schedule. Write down specifically what is to be accomplished. Such a schedule might include:
- 7:00 – 7:30 a.m.: Review history
- 7:35a.m.-2:20p.m.: Attend classes
- Study Hall/Lunch: Review for math quiz
- 2:30p.m.: Attend club meeting
- 3p.m.-6p.m.: Work
- 7:00 – 10:15 p.m.: Chapters five and six (history)
Suggestions for Scheduled Studying
Plan enough time for studying
The school expects a student to average about two hours in studying (including library work, papers, homework, etc.) each day. This is an appropriate and realistic guideline. A genuinely high-ability student may get by adequately with less. However, many students would do well to plan for somewhat more hours studied to hours spent in the classroom.
Study at the same time everyday
As often as possible, students should schedule certain hours to be used for studying almost every day, creating a habitual system. Keeping regular studying hours at least five days a week will make it easier to habitually follow a schedule and to maintain an active approach to studying.
Make use of free hours during the school day
Study Hall/Lunch are perhaps a student's most valuable study time, yet, ironically, are the most frequently misused. Students may effectively utilize these period by reviewing the material and editing the notes of the preceding class and/or studying the material to be discussed in the following class.
Plan study periods to follow class periods
This should be done whenever possible. The next best procedure is to schedule the period for study immediately preceding each class. Students should specify the particular course they will study rather than just marking "study" on their schedule.
Space study periods
15-30 minutes of study at a time for each course works best. Relaxation periods of 10 or 15 minutes should be scheduled between study periods. It is more efficient to study hard for a definite period of time and then stop for a few minutes, than to attempt to study indefinitely.
Plan for weekly reviews
At least one hour of review should be scheduled each week for each class (distinct from study time). The weekend is a good time for review.
Leave some unscheduled time for flexibility
This is important! Lack of flexibility is the major reason why schedules fail. Students tend to over-schedule themselves.
Allot time for planned recreational and personal activities
When planning a schedule, students should begin by listing the activities that come at fixed hours and cannot be changed. Classes and labs, meals, sleep, and part-time jobs are examples of areas that students typically cannot alter. Next, schedule flexible time commitments. These hours can be interchanged with other hours if schedules must be changed during the week. Recreational activities are planned last.
When forced to deviate from a planned schedule (and that will invariably occur), students should trade time rather than steal it from somewhere else on the schedule. For example, if an unexpected visitor comes by at a time that has been scheduled for studying, students can substitute an equal amount of study time for the period that was set aside for recreation.
*Strategies from the Cook Counseling Center at Virginia Tech University