There are four major types of time management
planners: semester, monthly, weekly, and daily. Semester and monthly
planners allow one to record the due dates of major assignments, while
weekly and daily schedules are used to record regular activities as well
as due dates of assignments. Each of these is discussed in subsequent
Once the planner(s) has been selected and xeroxed (if necessary),
information may then be recorded. Consider what types of information
will be entered on the planner, and what abbreviations will be used.
Check course syllabi for due dates of assignments, and break large tasks
into several smaller ones before putting them on the schedule.
One may wish to color code the different activities on the planner. For
example, write classes in black ink, assignments in red ink, and social
events in blue ink. Or, write the activities in one color and use
different highlighters to distinguish among types of tasks.
In order to be an effective time management strategy, planners must
be checked every day or every few days. Make this part of one's routine.
Additionally, it is often necessary to update and revise the planners as
due dates change or as new tasks are assigned.
The purpose of semester planners is to give the student on overall
idea of when major school projects and social events are scheduled.
Semester planners give an overview of the major commitments one has
during the course of the term.
Semester planners are useful because they help the student to see
when he/she will be the busiest during the term. Detailed plans then may
be made ahead of time to complete all the assignments and activities in
a timely manner. Another benefit of semester planners is that they help
to reduce the tensions associated with procrastination. Finally,
semester planners give the student a sense of control over his/her
academic and social affairs.
Directions for Creating Semester Planners
Buy a large calendar or desk blotter. Or make a homemade template to
meet personal requirements.
Write in the dates and times for major school projects, including
examinations and quizzes
Write in the
dates of important social events that can't be missed. Be selective,
you can't do everything!
meetings and events
calendar in a prominent place in your room where you may refer to it
Monthly planners are similar
to semester planners, except that they allow one to plan academic and
social events in more detail. More types of information and events can
be organized on monthly planners.
This time management
technique is useful because it encourages the student to divide major
tasks into smaller parts and to develop a schedule for completing each
part. Another benefit of monthly planners is they help to reduce the
tensions associated with procrastination. In addition, monthly planners
are portable, unlike most semester planners. Finally, monthly planners
give the student a sense of control over his/her academic and social
Directions for Creating
Buy a portable, notebook-sized monthly calendar with boxes that are
large enough to hold several pieces of information. Or make a
Look at the major academic assignments listed on the semester
planner (or course syllabi). Break each task into smaller parts. For
example, a research paper may be divided into these activities:
choose topic and clear it with the instructor, library research,
write first draft, type first draft, have first draft proof-read,
make revisions, and print final draft.
Develop a schedule for completing each task. Make one's own due
dates for each part and write them on the monthly planner. Using the
research paper example: topic by week 2, research by week 6, first
draft by week 8, type by week 9, proof-read by week 10, turn in
final draft by week 11.
Regularly evaluate one's progress on the tasks against the due dates
on the monthly planner. A good time to do this is every Sunday
night. Treat yourself when a major assignment has been completed
according to the schedule.
WEEKLY ACTIVITY GRIDS
The purpose of weekly
activity grids is to plan activities in a very detailed manner in order
to make the most of one's time. The strategy is particularly useful
during finals week or before major business activities, when one has "a
million things to do" in a short period of time.
When recording upcoming
activities on the weekly grid, be as specific as possible. Each entry
should identify two things. For students, these are the topic to be
studied and how it will be studied. Examples are: library research for
speech, write first draft of sociology paper, read physics chapter 7, do
accounting problems 1-5, start ceramics project, and identify memory
aids for marketing test. For employees, the two necessary data are the
project to be worked on and the nature of the task. Examples are:
prepare data tables for next year's budget, prepare visual aids for
sales presentation, write correspondences about renovation project, or
finish bid for bridge replacement project.
Weekly activity grids may be
purchased in a bookstore or made by the individual. Bound planners
purchased in the store have the advantage of durability and portability.
Homemade planners, on the other hand, offer the benefits of flexibility,
low cost, and more detailed planning. Homemade planners also save time
because activities that don't change week to week can be written on the
planner before xeroxing, eliminating the need to enter the same data
Weekly activity grids may be
arranged in one of two formats. They are usually blocked out in one-hour
chunks of time. Each one-hour block may begin on the hour (8:00-9:00,
9:00-10:00, etc.) or on the half-hour (7:30-8:30, 8:30-9:30, etc.),
depending on the school's class schedule or the employer's schedule. A
less common but perfectly acceptable format is by the half-hour. For
this type of weekly activity grid time is blocked out as follows:
7:00-7:30, 7:30-8:00, 8:00-8:30, etc. The half-hour style allows one to
record activities in more detail, but the hourly format takes up less
Remember this rule of thumb
when planning and coordinating weekly activities: spend two hours
studying outside class for every hour spent in class.
Directions for Creating
Directions for completing
weekly activity grids are given below. A sample homemade grid and a
completed homemade grid are then illustrated. Examples of bound planners
will be scanned at a later date.
Design a weekly activity grid to meet personal requirements, or
purchase a bound planner. Arrange the grid blocks on an hourly or
half-hourly basis. Label the days of the week, starting with Sunday
The first thing to record on the grid is those regular activities
whose times do not change week to week. For homemade planners,
record this data before xeroxing the chart for future use. Examples
of regular activities are
class or lab
athletic practice, games or exercise
Record all other activities that are not regular events. Consult the
monthly planner (or course syllabi) to determine the due dates of
all activities, not just the major ones. Break major assignments
into smaller tasks, and identify your own due date for each part.
Estimate how long it will take to complete each task. If unsure, err
on the side of overestimating. Write short descriptions of each
activity in the appropriate places on the weekly chart. Examples of
athletic games or exercise
listening to lecture tapes
recopying or reviewing notes
relaxation and recreation
developing memory aids
reviewing notes or readings
club meetings or activities
meetings with instructor, coach or advisor
Keep the completed grid, or copies of it, in a prominent place where
one may refer to it often. Make it a habit to check the grid
periodically, such as every morning or evening.
DAILY ACTIVITY GRIDS
Daily activity grids serve
the same function as weekly schedules - to plan in detail the activities
to be completed during the day. The only difference between the two is
that daily grids show only one day at a time while weekly grids display
seven days of activities on one chart.
Daily activity grids may be
purchased or made by the individual. The former often span the hours of
8:00 am and 5:00 pm and come in portable and desk-top styles. The latter
may be designed to start and end at any hour. Time blocks are usually an
hour long and start on the hour, but this format may be modified to suit
personal preferences. Various types of information may be recorded on
daily charts, including school work, social events, appointments, and
work duties. Tasks should be described in as much detail as possible;
include the subject of the task and the specific activity to be
Back to Academic Success Page