A planning schedule is an effective tool to help you use your study time efficiently and to combine this with your extracurricular activities. It gives you an overview of all your tasks/group projects/deadlines… so you don’t lose sight of them and you won’t have unpleasant surprises when your deadlines arrive. However, not every planning attempt is very effective. For your planning to be effective, make sure that it :

  • Is realistic and attainable. Make sure your planning is customized to yourself and your capabilities. Take your capacities and your individual situation into account. Don’t plan to study twelve hours a day when you are currently studying just six. Rather, you can progressively build up to your desired amount of study hours a day/a week.

  • Has concrete goals. Write down literally what you will do and when you will do it.

  • Is flexible and includes reserve time. Make sure there is a buffer for unforeseen circumstances (e.g. a tasks that took longer than you estimated, a chapter in your text book that was more difficult than you expected).

  • Has a good balance between school work and relaxation. Make sure you have a break from time to time to clear your mind.

What do you do?

Step 1: Determine how much time you spend on your study

Step 2: Make a to do list

Before you start planning, it is important to know what your tasks, exams, deadlines… are. A useful tool to map this for each course is a to do list:

  • Write down all your courses
  • For each course, write down:
    • Concretely what you have to do/study in the short run (this week) and in the long run (this semester)?
    • Which tasks have the highest priority (= urgent and important)? To determine this, you can use the Eisenhower’s priority quadrant.
    • How long each task will take? It is better to overestimate than to underestimate the time required to do a certain task. After all, something unexpected can always occur… You should also be realistic and estimate the time required for a certain task based on your personal experiences.
    • Are there important deadlines for this course? Write them down.  

Step 3: Start planning!

Below you find three types of planning. It is often useful to make a semester planning first. Then you can make a planning per week and finally when the exams arrive, you can make an exam planning.

Below you find a short manual and a template for each planning.

Do you prefer to make your planning in an app? Try Microsoft To Do.

Curious on how to improve your planning? Here you can find a checklist. Check for yourself which tips you already apply and what you could try out in the future.

Do you find it difficult to concentrate on studying? Try the Pomodoro Technique. With this technique you schedule your tasks in 20-minute time blocks.