So, how does one achieve real work? One of the things that helps is planning before, and during the Skule year.
As soon as my course syllabi, yes that is the plural of syllabus, are out, I always open the document with my agenda beside me. Being a UofT Engineering Student, I'm a bit biased, so I use the Skule Planner. What I do is write down the due dates of assignments and the dates of midterms on both the monthly overview, and on the weekly. I like to do this in red, because red means danger, stay alert….beware.
During the Skule year, specifically, every Sunday night, I sit down with an Excel Spreadsheet open. The first column, has hourly increments starting from 9 AM until I sleep, which is usually 11 PM. The first row has the days from Monday to Sunday.
I then fill out the schedule with the lectures and tutorials I plan to attend for that week. As I'm someone who best understands by being in lecture, I usually go to all of them. I also add time for lunch, and dinner, which are the 2 most important parts of my day. Another thing I usually do is keep one night of the week a no-study-time. For me this is usually Friday night. After all these essentials comes the hard bit, what do I do with the rest of the time left? How much time do I study for each subject?
Something I do is split the courses into high, medium, and low difficulty. If a course is high difficulty, I like to give it a study time of 4 hours during the weekdays and 4 hours during the weekend. A course that is medium takes 3 hours during the weekdays and 3 during the weekend. And as you would have guessed, a low difficulty takes 2 hours during the weekdays and 2 during the weekend. Each day, I like to study 2 subjects, one I enjoy, and one I don’t. I’m a huge believer in practice makes perfect, therefore, I prefer to do practice problems than read.
I also recommend having a few ‘blank’ hours. These usually don’t stay ‘blank’ for long as they get filled up with team meetings, or extra time to do a problem set. One important thing to realize is you can, no let me rephrase that, you HAVE to be flexible with your schedule. If you have a midterm on a specific week, invest more time in studying for that subject. Once you have your weekly schedule, write down the subjects you are studying on each day in your planner. I do this in pencil, because pencil markings are temporary, erasable…adjustable.
To be honest, when I first started making a weekly timetable, the hardest part was acting on what I scheduled. They say the bridge between goals and accomplishment is discipline, the more self-controlled you are, the greater the likelihood your bridge will stand sturdy.
When I started, I only accomplished 20% of what I intended. Slowly, I made progress. Don’t expect yourself to follow your schedule 100%. Life is unexpected, there will always be that assignment that takes longer than it should, but don’t let it beat you down. Also, never have the same routine for 2 weeks. Mix it up. Do something new. Study somewhere different. We all have friends, ask one to randomly check if you are in line with your schedule during the year.
Most importantly, these tips I have suggested are from my past experiences. What works for me might not work for you, after all we’re human, and each one of us has their special way of achieving success. But if there is one thing we all need is confidence. So studying, how hard can it be?