- Break large tasks into smaller steps: work backwards from due dates.
- Reduce the pressure on a busy week: do work in advance on a lighter week.
How to design your term calendar
- Use a full-page calendar for each month of the term.
- Enter information about assignments, tests, exams and labs, including
- Dates (due date, start date for studying or research) and
- Weight (% of final grade).
- Colour code by course, if helpful.
- Use this to help construct your weekly To Do list.
- For large assignments (e.g., essays, research papers), enter the start date as well as due date. Use the Assignment Calculator to help break large projects into smaller tasks with individual due dates. Students who are writing a thesis can use the Thesis Manager.
How to design your To Do list
- How big a list? Do what works (e.g., a daily list, 2-day list, weekly list).
- Prioritize. First, what is most difficult (do “something” to chip away at it), followed by what is due next, what is worth most, what is fundamental, what is fun.
- Make connections to your Term Calendar (i.e., include items from To Do List).
- If To Do lists make you feel overwhelmed or guilty when you are unable to complete everything, try writing a Daily Accomplishments list at the end of each day.
Weekly schedule template
How to Create Your Weekly Schedule
Step 1: Fixed Commitments
Enter all your fixed commitments into the schedule –when you need to be in a certain place at a certain time. This can include classes, team practices, club meetings, your work schedule, family dinner, and other appointments.
Step 2: Health Habits
Next, enter your health habits into the schedule – when are you going to eat, sleep, and be physically active? Be realistic: you may take a shorter lunch, but need an hour at dinner to walk to the cafeteria, eat, chat, drink tea, and walk home. Also, block off 7-9 hours each night for sleep – getting enough sleep allows you to be a happy, functioning, efficient student!
Step 3: Estimate Hours of Homework
Estimate how many hours of homework you’ll need to stay on top of your courses and meet your goals. Write down all the things you need to do on a weekly basis for each of your courses. On average, for most courses, you will need to plan 8-10 hours per course per week, including time spent in class, labs, reading, homework assignments, group work, etc. In any particular week, you may find some courses will need more, and others less. School is a full-time job!
Step 4: Assign Homework to Blocks of Time
Input these hours of homework into your weekly schedule. Look for blocks of time (1, 2, or 3 hours) that are open in your schedule: these may be your homework times. Using a coloured marker, outline the blocks during which you can commit to doing homework, aiming for the hours you estimated in Step 3. Be specific: assign a specific task for a specific course to a certain block. For example, “on Tuesdays from 9-11 a.m., I do my weekly readings for PSYC 100.”
Step 5: The rest of the schedule
The schedule is flexible, so add in whatever elements you want:
- Add time on Sunday night to look ahead at the upcoming week and make a new To Do list and weekly schedule
- Some people like to identify more hours for study than they need, to give themselves flexibility to choose when they study. Others build in a 2-3 hour “reserve bank” of time that is only used if they don’t do homework during a scheduled time and need to “pay themselves back” for the missed time.
- Schedule other life activities: grocery shopping, laundry, hanging with friends, calling home.
Try this method of designing your weekly schedule. If you find that it’s not for you and are looking for alternative ways to manage your time, or if you would like to talk with someone to help refine your weekly schedule, you can book a 1:1 advising appointment with a Learning Strategist. You can also visit one of the weekly scheduled drop-ins with the Peer Learning Assistants (see the Workshop and Event schedule).
See Exam Prep for more study tips and strategies.
Please check back in November for an updated exam study schedule template.