top of page
Search

Places To Start now!

Updated: Sep 19, 2023

Creating a Weekly Schedule

I. Block out your “non-negotiables”. These include class times and any meetings, sport practices, religious practices

II. Set a wake-up and bedtime. It is highly suggested you create both a morning and night routine to help you wake-up/wind down each day. For suggestions on this and more details, see the Set Your Routines portion of this document.

III. Place your study times in the open blocks of times in your schedule. If possible, study for each of your classes on the days they meet. What you do during these times is listed in the Study Plan portion of this document.

IV. Make sure to put in 1-2 hours at least once a week (typically on Sundays) for a “buffer” or “make-up “time.

a. Life happens and you will most likely not be able to do everything you have planned for each day.

b. This time is set aside to make sure you can get these things done.

c. This helps a lot with anxiety as well – if you don’t get to something, you know you will be able to get it done during this time. This can help to relieve our minds when this happens.

d. You can also use this time to study for a Monday exam.

V. Sit down each Sunday and plan for the week ahead.

a. Make sure all exam and assignment due dates are clearly indicated.

b. If a social event comes up that you want to attend, add that to your schedule.

i. Shift study times around if needed to ensure you can get it all in.


*The goal is to develop a daily routine you can stick to 80-90%. You don’t need to be perfect to be great, but you do need to be consistent.

*Experiment with things until you find what you can stick with and feel good about.

*NOTE: It is always better to do 10-15 minutes of work for each class everyday than 60-70 minutes on the weekend. If you day gets away from you, take 10 – 15 minutes (or 25 if you are using the Pomodoro Technique) for each class (see the Study Plan portion for how to best utilize this time)

Set Your Routines


I. Setting your weekly schedule is also working towards setting your daily routines.

II. It is also beneficial to have a morning and night routine.

III. I recommend an hour before bed and an hour after you wake up for these.


Morning Routine:


* Wanting to go back to sleep can be frustrating but 30 minutes of grogginess is normal. Rather than setting multiple alarms to get “more sleep”, which puts your brain into what is called “sleep inertia” prolonging this normal grogginess feeling, plan simple morning activities that don’t require making important decisions.

The only “rules” are, as stated above, 1) set one alarm, and get up when it goes off and 2) do not go on your phone for at least 30 minutes.

Other than those, what you do to get your day started to set yourself up for greatness is up to you. Here are some suggestions to try. Experiment until you find what feels best for you and puts you in a good mood that allows you have the most productive day possible.

Start small!

  • Take note of what makes you feel ready for the day. For some people, a bit of productivity is the best way to jump-start the day, but don’t think too big. Keep productive tasks small and personal, like making your bed, watering your plants, taking a shower, or spending 10 or so minutes writing in your journal.

  • Get moving. Not a bedtime yoga person? Maybe you’re a morning yoga person. Even 10 minutes will do. Sitting up for five minutes to do a meditation or a quick shower counts, too. Or go for a little walk (no ear buds).

  • Prioritize breakfast. There’s a saying: If you’re irrationally angry at the world, you need to eat. If you’re irrationally angry with yourself, you need to sleep. Don't let time fly so fast that you find yourself hangry before you’ve even reviewed your to-do list.

  • Do not forget who you are and what you are capable of. As silly as this sounds, I look at myself in the mirror each morning after brushing my teeth, remind myself that I can do hard things and am trying my best, and then I give myself a high-five in the mirror. It’s ridiculous but helps me. But just saying a few positive affirmations to yourself works too. STEM Excellence suggests saying, “I am excellence”.

  • Strategize the rest of your day. Look at your schedule and prepare yourself for what lies ahead. Get excited about fun events, which will help you push through the things you might not be excited about (studying etc.).

  • Spend a little time cleaning. This way you come home to a clean house and avoid having to spend hours once a week dealing with it all.

  • Create your to do list for the day. Write down all the things you need to get done. Then PRIORITIZE this list. Put what is most important at the top (HW due the next day, study for the exam you have coming up etc.). List all the things you wrote down in order of importance. You said you like to cross off or erase what you finish. So, make sure to do that, and congratulate yourself each time you do. If you prioritize your list and don’t have time to get to everything you hoped to, you are still getting the things you need to get done out of the way so you don’t get behind, overwhelmed, or create the need to cram for anything.


I like to give myself 90 minutes each morning. I lay in bed for a few minutes and then get up and make it. I figure, if I can’t do the easy things, how am I going to do the hard things that will come later. I brush my teeth and give myself a high five in the mirror and take my dog for a walk. I come back, make coffee, and do some quick cleaning while it brews (do dishes, wipe down counters, clean parts of my bathroom, Swiffer/vacuum my floors, or water my plants depending on what day it is). I only eat in the morning if I am hungry. Then I sit down and write in my journal for 10 minutes and scroll through my phone for 10 minutes. After that, I get mentally prepared for the day ahead by looking at my schedule, create and prioritize my to do list, answer any important emails and then take a shower and get ready for work.

Allowing myself to put me first and do things that make me feel good shifts my mood and has a positive impact on the rest of my day and really seems to improve my mental health. I also start off productively, which tends to continue for the rest of the day. If I start lazy, I finish lazy and I beat myself up over it. I look forward to this time set aside for myself now but it did take time and experimentation to find what I like and will stick to.

Nighttime Routine:

Only one rule: no screens/blue light of any kind for the hour before I go to bed. Other than that, do what makes you happy and allows you to fall asleep. Some ideas are listed below. Just like for your mornings, start small, experiment, and find what gives your mind the most relief.

  • Clean for 10-30 minutes. This way you avoid having to spend hours cleaning on the weekend and you wake up to a clean house, which is a great way to start the day.

  • Take a warm bath or shower.

  • Do a face mask.

  • Listen to music.

  • Light yoga, breathing, or meditation.

  • Read the notes for the class you have an exam in next or are struggling with the most.

  • Have some tea.

  • Do some journaling.

I like to give myself 30-60 minutes each night before bed. I brush my teeth, wash my face, and do a face mask while writing down all the things I did that day that I am proud of. This is my nighttime journaling. It allows me to focus on what I have accomplished. If I have anxiety about what I didn’t get done, I write down a plan of how I can make sure I get it done the next to calm my mind. From there I have a 10-minute wind down yoga routine I do and then I read.

*One thing I like to remind my coaching clients (and students) of is that you are building a life for yourself while in college. It is easy to get caught up in your GPA etc., and while that matters, what matters most is that you build a strong foundation you can build the rest of your life on. You want to build a life that you are proud of and love living. To do that, you need to become who you want to be. Creating these routines for yourself is part of this big picture. The big picture – the life you will live – is what you should always keep in mind.

Study Plan

For classes that require a lot of memorization, I highly recommend starting with the Anki Flash Card app on your phone. This should not be your only source of studying, but it is an easy way to get going and is always available. It is more effective than traditional flash cards or flash card apps because it uses spaced repetition, which is an excellent study tool to incorporate for all your classes. https://apps.ankiweb.net/

As suggested in the “Creating a Weekly Schedule”, you should study for your classes on the days you have lecture. I have three main strategies I suggest starting with. These are just the beginning and depending on what you like best will decide how we proceed and build your study plan moving forward. These use what is called “Active Recall”. We are going to work on pulling information out of your brain opposed to pushing information in. Exams expect you to recall and apply what you know. For this reason (and decades of cognitive studies done on learning effectively) we are going to study with this same strategy.

These are independent of subject, so use these for all your classes. And should be hard. The more confused you feel, and the more you struggle, the more you are learning. This “confusion” is what is called “cognitive load”. Like building muscles in the gym by lifting weights you have to struggle - we are building your brain by forcing it to struggle. As you build muscles, you lift heavier weight, as your build your mind, you increase your cognitive load. This will allow you to use more “high yield” study methods that will cut down on the amount of time you need to study but will still bring high grades.



The first of three strategies:

1. Before each class, do some “pre-reading”. You don’t need to read the text fully, instead, look at the main points and start to put together the big picture. Ask yourself what the big picture is, and how all the main concepts integrate to form the big picture idea.

2. After class, with your book and notes closed, write down everything you can remember reading and lecture. These do not need to be neat or linear. In fact, doing this in a mind map is best. Use as few words as possible, focusing on the key terms. Always asking yourself “Why is this important?” “How does this relate to the other concepts introduced.” “Why does this matter to the big picture?”

3. After actively recalling everything you can think of, open your notes and book and fill in the blanks – what did you leave out? What concepts were you unable to connect? What terms were you unable to define? Write those down in your notes using a different color.

4. For the concepts you are confused on or can’t find the connection, write them down on a separate sheet of paper and bring those into office hours. These will be the specific questions you ask your professor. I also suggest you let the professor know what connections you have made to ensure you are not misinterpreting anything. It is good to confirm what you think you know!

5. Now, work HW problems and do any practice problems that relate to the material you are covering in class.

6. Create a practice exam – rewrite or type out all the problems given to you as HW or for practice that you struggle with. Do not provide answers on this, instead, create a KEY. Build on this as you go and continue to use this to self-test yourself. For the concepts/problems you get easily, only review those once a week. For the concepts/problems you struggle on – spend the rest of the time you have scheduled working on those concepts and make sure to bring these problems into office hours for clarification on. These should also be the concepts you start with in your next study (revision) time.

The second of three strategies (some parts are the same as above):

1. (Same as above) Before each class, do some “pre-reading”. You don’t need to read the text fully, instead, look at the main points and start to put together the big picture. Ask yourself what the big picture is, and how all the main concepts integrate to form the big picture idea.

2. Make a list of all the key words.

3. Define them.

4. Start to connect them: Which words and terms are concepts that go together or build off of each other? Which are new and become important later? Which don’t matter much towards big picture understanding?

5. During lecture: Make note of the words and terms that are being brought up or repeated the most. Make sure you have a solid understanding of all of these individually and how they connect to the main topics and big picture idea.

6. After class: Make a list of the words, with definitions, and how they connect without looking at your notes or book.

7. After actively recalling everything you can think of, open your notes and book and fill in the blanks – what words/terms/concepts did you forget What concepts were you unable to connect? What terms were you unable to define? Write those down in your notes using a different color.

8. (Same as above) For the concepts you are confused on or can’t find the connection, write them down on a separate sheet of paper and bring those into office hours. These will be the specific questions you ask your professor. I also suggest you let the professor know what connections you have made to ensure you are not misinterpreting anything. It is good to confirm what you think you know!

9. (Same as above) Now, work HW problems and do any practice problems that relate to the material you are covering in class.

10. (Same as above) Create a practice exam – rewrite or type out all the problems given to you as HW or for practice that you struggle with. Do not provide answers on this, instead, create a KEY. Build on this as you go and continue to use this to self-test yourself. For the concepts/problems you get easily, only review those once a week. For the concepts/problems you struggle on – spend the rest of the time you have scheduled working on those concepts and make sure to bring these problems into office hours for clarification on. These should also be the concepts you start with in your next study (revision) time.

The third of three strategies (some parts are the same as above):

1. (Same as above) Before each class, do some “pre-reading”. You don’t need to read the text fully, instead, look at the main points and start to put together the big picture. Ask yourself what the big picture is, and how all the main concepts integrate to form the big picture idea.

2. Make a list of questions for yourself. Try to make these more “Why” and “How” type questions and less “what”. The how and why require a higher level of thinking, will be harder to answer, and bring more learning. Examples: “How does this work?” “How does this go with ________” “Why does this happen?” “Why does it happen this way?” “How does this fit into the big picture?” “Why does this matter for the overall goal?”

3. Build on this list: As new concepts are introduced, ask these same questions, and continue to connect them together.

4. During lecture: Add questions to the list above paying special attention to the concepts that the professor repeats.

5. After class: Start off all your study sessions by answering these questions without looking at your notes.

6. (Same as above) For the concepts you are confused on or can’t find the connection, write them down on a separate sheet of paper and bring those into office hours. These will be the specific questions you ask your professor. I also suggest you let the professor know what connections you have made to ensure you are not misinterpreting anything. It is good to confirm what you think you know!

7. (Same as above) Now, work HW problems and do any practice problems that relate to the material you are covering in class.

8. (Same as above) Create a practice exam – rewrite or type out all the problems given to you as HW or for practice that you struggle with. Do not provide answers on this, instead, create a KEY. Build on this as you go and continue to use this to self-test yourself. For the concepts/problems you get easily, only review those once a week. For the concepts/problems you struggle on – spend the rest of the time you have scheduled working on those concepts and make sure to bring these problems into office hours for clarification on. These should also be the concepts you start with in your next study (revision) time.

*Learning is messy, non-linear, and progressive. And your brain might not put things together in the way the book is organized. This is why I suggest putting together the big picture for yourself. The book might go A  B  C D but you might understand it all better by going D BA  C for example. Allow yourself to put the pieces together in the way you understand it best.

Your brain only holds on to what it sees as important. Continually revising your notes and studying all the concepts will allow your brain to see what matters that it may not have realized the first time you looked at things. It will start filling in details, remembering definitions, creating connections and you continue to revise (study).

Study Time Management

1. Set alarms for yourself and minimize distractions! Put your email/text/phone all on silent so you aren’t distracted.

2. Start by using one of two methods:

a. Pomodoro Technique – focus for 25 minutes, take a 5-minute break. Repeat 4 times. Then take a longer break (15-30-minutes). You can study for the same class or cycle through your courses during these times. Do this as many times as needed to get through all the classes you had that day. Make sure you are spending 1-2 hours total studying for each class you had that day.

i. If your day is crazy and you don’t have 1-2 hours for each class, do at least one 25-minute study time for each class doing the active recall strategy of your choice (writing down everything you can remember or answering all the questions you have created without looking at notes)

b. 90/20 Rule – study for a focused 90 minutes and then take a 20-minute break. Repeat for all the classes you need to study for that day.

*Always prioritize studying for the class you have your next exam in! *









.




8 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Map your way through college

Map Your Way Through College: Creating a Mind Map Navigating college can be overwhelming and daunting. One way to make sense of the coursework, deadlines, and projects is by creating a mind map. A col

Comments


bottom of page