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Time Management: How to Make a Weekly Schedule

Adam S. Executive Functioning Coach and Study Skills Tutor of Prepped & Polished, LLC in South Natick, Massachusetts teaches you how to build a weekly schedule and manage your time more efficiently.

  1. Start with your obligations
  2. Then fill in Homework Time
  3. Make sure you include time for fun

Today, we are going to talk about how to build a schedule. It’s It’s really tough to keep everything in your head when you get into high school or college. Organizational tools can be really valuable if you use them: Daily planners and log calendars are really valuable tools. You really want to get yourself a good planner to start, planners, and assignment notebooks. You should try to find a planner that has a 30-day view and a 7-day view. Then you want to plug your big events coming up into the 30-day view, and then look at those a week at a time and line them up in your 7-day view.

We’re going to talk a little bit about what that looks like. Let’s take it over to the whiteboard.

Start with your obligations

When it comes time to make your weekly schedule, you want to start by filling in the stuff that you have no control over; they’re your obligations. The time’s fixed, you have to be there.

Basically, your job is just to show up. That’ll be stuff like class, your history class, 9:00 to 10:00, math class, or practices for soccer, extracurricular activities, and appointments. That’s the skeleton of your schedule, and then you’re going to plug the rest of your time in around that.

Since school is your Number 1 priority, the next thing you want to think about is homework. What do you think about how much homework time you have? A good rule of thumb is you want 1 to 3 hours of homework time per hour of class time. Say you’re taking 4 classes, and they each meet for 1 hour, 3 times a week. You’re looking at 12 hours in total class time. That means you want to budget for 12 to 36 hours of homework time. That might sound like a lot upfront, and you’re probably not always going to need that much time, but you want to budget that much time so you know it’s there if you need it.

Fill in Homework Time

How are we going to use that time? Say I decided that this is going to be a 2-hour homework block. What I want to do is look at all my syllabuses for my classes and make a list of all the homework I have to do for each class that week. Say that I have math numbers 1 through 20; history, read pages 70 to 85. Keep going on down the list. Then, you want to get a rough idea of how much time each of these assignments is going to take. This is something you’ll get a better sense for as time goes on.

A good trick is to do a small portion of it. Say you have to read 15 pages for history: Set a timer, read 5 pages, stop the timer, see how long it took you, and then divide that by 5. Say it took you 20 minutes; 20 / 5 = 4 minutes a page. You have to read 15 pages; it’s going to be about an hour. You want to budget for an hour of history reading, and then plug that into your schedule in that homework time.

How do we decide which homework to do when? You really want to prioritize by a due date. If history is not due until Friday and math is due on Tuesday, you want to plug math first; make sure you get math done Monday night so it’s done in time for Tuesday because you know you’ll have later in the week to do that history homework.

Another important point is to think about breaking up larger projects into smaller projects. We can talk about that more in a later video. If you have a big paper coming up, you want to break that down into 1, 2, or maybe even 3 separate pieces, where you do an outline, draft, and edits. It’s really overwhelming to try and do any big project all at once, but if you can break it down into its component pieces and then take each piece and put that into a day in your schedule, it’s much more manageable.

Make sure you include time for fun

It’s also really important to schedule fun stuff, too. When you think about your schedule, if you know that playing Xbox is really important, make sure you make time for Xbox. It gives you something to look forward to, it makes the schedule more fun, and if you don’t make time for it, you’re just going to take it out of other time when you’re supposed to be doing homework. It’s really important to know yourself. Give yourself time for your obligations: History, math, soccer, time for homework, and then time for fun. It’s going to take you a little bit longer the first couple of times you do it, but it gets a lot easier, and in time, it becomes second nature. By the second half of the semester, you won’t even think about it, and your life is going to be a lot easier.

Those are the basics of building a schedule. Remember, you want to start with your skeleton – your obligations. That’s your class time, your extracurriculars, and the activities you have to go to. Then, fill in your homework time. Prioritize your subjects by due date, and try to assign realistic time blocks to each assignment. Then make sure you include time for fun because that’s important, too. All right, guys. We’ll talk to you next time.

How do you currently manage your weekly schedule? Which of Adam’s tips did you find most useful?

Post your tips/comments below.

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