Planning for Success

Learning Objectives

  • Explore time management and scheduling strategies


In order to think about time management and scheduling, let’s start with a review of your typical week.

Writing Workshop: Responsibilities

Planner open to the days of the week.

Figure 1. A planner is a convenient place to store information related to your schedule and regular responsibilities.

To start, open The Working Document and begin in the section titled, “Responsibilities.” Make a list of all your regular responsibilities and commitments this week (for example, class time, commuting time, work, etc.). These are the things that take up your time. No need to reveal everything about your personal life; keep it clear enough that it makes sense to you without getting too much into your private business. Your list may look something like this:

  • Class
  • Work
  • Exercise/gym time
  • Volunteer
  • Commuting
  • Church
  • Counseling
  • Intramural volleyball
  • A&P study group
  • Volleyball game
  • Babysit
  • Birthday party
  • Spend time with significant other
  • Work on transfer application

How does fixed time apply to the items in your list above? Remember that fixed time is time that you have committed to a certain area while free time is flexible time that can be used however you’d like.

Try It

Writing Workshop: Fixed Time

Now that you’ve reviewed the concept of fixed time, go back to your list of responsibilities on The Working Document, and assess which ones are fixed and which can be scheduled during free time. You might want to note responsibilities or activities that are not altogether fixed but need to be done during specific periods of time. Let’s mark these as F (fixed) or SF (somewhat fixed), or O (open).

  • Class – F
  • Work – F
  • Exercise/gym time – O
  • Swim – SF
  • Volunteer – O
  • Commuting – SF
  • Tutoring – SF
  • Church – F
  • Counseling – F
  • Intramural volleyball – F
  • A&P study group – SF
  • Volleyball game – F
  • Babysit – SF
  • Birthday party – SF
  • Spend time with friends – O
  • Work on transfer application – O

Now you have a good idea of all the things you need to do in a week. Next, let’s look at how to fit them all in.

Writing Workshop:  Calendar

Now, let’s fill out a grid with all of your fixed activities on The Working Document. The grid below begins at 7 and ends at midnight because sleeping is super important for students (and ideally you can get somewhere between 7 and 9 hours), but if you need to adjust your grid, feel free to do so.

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday

Okay, so you’ve put in all your fixed time responsibilities. Now, add in your somewhat fixed time responsibilities and your open time responsibilities. For example, if you plan to swim at the university pool three times a week, but it’s only open on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays, from 2-5, you will need to swim during those times.  Make a plan for when you will put in things (like swimming) that are really important to you and can only be put into your schedule at certain times.

See, for example, a student who wants to swim at the university pool which is only open on weekdays from 10-12 and 4-7. This student plans to swim twice a week, and we’ve put that into the schedule. The student also plans to try to attend tutoring during the break between classes.

It may end up looking something like this:


Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
8:00 A&P
9:00 English Composition English Composition A&P English Composition Church
10:00 A&P A&P A&P Church
11:00 A&P A&P A&P
12:00 Tutoring Tutoring Counseling
1:00 Lifespan Development English Composition Lifespan Development Lifespan Development
2:00 gym
3:00 volunteer
4:00 swim swim
5:00 Dance Dance
6:00 Work Work Work
7:00 Work Work A&P study group Volleyball game Work Birthday party
8:00 Work Intramural game Work Babysit Work Birthday party
9:00 Work commute Work Babysit Work Birthday party
10:00 Work Work Babysit Work


Now, let’s think about waiting time. Do you remember what waiting time is?

Try It

In your schedule grid, try to identify the bits of waiting time that are part of your day-to-day schedule. Then, think about what sorts of activities you might complete during these waiting times. Remember, these are short bits of time when you don’t have the ability to maximize your concentration. So you probably can’t plan to write an essay during the bits of time between class. But you could review or make some flashcards. What else could you get done in these bits of time?

Here are some examples:

  • Make weekly to-do list
  • Review notes
  • Check school announcements, messages, and emails
  • Make flashcards

Study Time

Now, let’s think about study time. Do you remember how many hours of studying you should expect to spend for every hour of time spent in class?

Try It

Now that you have reminded yourself how much time you need to spend studying, look at your schedule grid. Can you find those hours in your week? And can you spread them out as much as possible, so you aren’t trying to do all your studying in one clump over the weekend (which would be exhausting)?

Having scheduled your fixed time, your class time, your study time, and your somewhat fixed time, how much time do you have left? Did you remember to schedule time to eat? Did you schedule time for friends? Friends are very important to your success in college. If you haven’t already done so, think about making a study group so that you can use your study time but also spend time with friends. This can be more productive than you think!

Look at this completed calendar as an example—you can see that things can quickly get busy! It’s okay if your plan doesn’t work out perfectly, but it’s helpful to plan out the most important items so you can prioritize getting those done.

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
7:00 commute commute
8:00 commute commute commute A&P STUDY
9:00 English Composition STUDY English Composition A&P English Composition STUDY Church
12:00 Tutoring STUDY Tutoring Counseling Lifespan Development STUDY
1:00 Lifespan Development English Composition Lifespan Development English Composition STUDY
2:00 STUDY gym STUDY transfer application
3:00 STUDY STUDY volunteer STUDY transfer application
4:00 swim STUDY swim STUDY swim
5:00 commute Dance commute Dance
6:00 Work friends Work Work STUDY
7:00 Work friends Work A&P study group Volleyball game Work STUDY
8:00 Work Intramural game Work commute Babysit Work Birthday Party
9:00 Work commute Work friends Babysit Work Birthday Party
10:00 Work STUDY Work friends Babysit Wor Birthday Party
11:00 friends Babysit

Writing Workshop: Reflection

What did you learn from this scheduling exercise? How useful was it? What did you learn about the amount of free time you have? What did you learn about how difficult it will be for you to find all the time you need to study while meeting all your other responsibilities? Were there any small activities you could get done during any waiting time that you have? Do you have enough time in your schedule for freetime? What strategies help you to feel most successful with your time management?

Write a few sentences of reflection on The Working Document.


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