Schedule to Succeed: Draft Your Weekly Schedule

In this post, we create the first draft of your weekly schedule. We are not yet ready to finalize this draft nor to commit to a weekly study routine. The point of this draft is to help you assess your current time commitments. In fact, this first draft of your weekly schedule is designed to assess your current priorities and make scheduling decisions about your academic course load for the upcoming academic term. This work is part of our Schedule to Succeed series. Our major focus here is to help you think deeply about our learning principle that Learning takes more time than you think you need. If you can be mindful of this principle as you practice scheduling, you can free yourself up to be less stressed, more productive, and to have fun while achieving the grades you want.

STEP 1: SCHEDULE ALL WEEKLY IN-CLASS MEETINGS

Step 1.1: Log into and view your registration records for all classes you are currently enrolled in.

Step 1.2: Download our blank 24/7 weekly schedule template by clicking the button below:


Step 1.3: On your blank schedule provided, mark the appropriate times and locations for each in-class meeting.

STEP 2: SCHEDULE ALL WEEKLY WORK HOURS

Step 2.1: If you plan to work part-time or full-time, add this information to the weekly schedule.

Step 2.2: If you have an inconsistent weekly work schedule, mark the times you plan to work. If you will not have a part-time or full-time job during the academic term, skip this step.

STEP 3: SCHEDULE ALL OTHER WEEKLY ACTIVITIES

Step 3.1: If you are involved with other reoccurring weekly activities that require your physical presence, add these to your weekly schedule. This may include any of the following:

Club Meetings: Engineering Club, Student Government, etc.

Athletics: Regularly scheduled team practices, meetings with coaches, athletic training with team, etc.

Family commitments: Responsibilities for children, siblings, child care, etc.

Religious Activities: Weekly religious activities

Medical Appointments: Regularly scheduled doctor visits, therapy, psychological services, etc.

Other Appointments: Add any other regularly-scheduled weekly appointment

College Applications and Scholarship work: If you are currently applying to college or working on scholarship application, I recommend that you set aside ritual time each week to work on these applications. My general rule of thumb is to treat these types of applications like an in-class meeting. I would recommend setting aside two separate 2-hour blocks each week to do this type of work. That guarantees that you’ll set aside time and space to do this work and not be blind sided by the deadlines.

STEP 4: REVIEW THE FIRST DRAFT OF YOUR WEEKLY SCHEDULE

Step 4.1: Review your first draft of your term-long calendar. Make sure that every block of time on that calendar is a weekly-recurring time commitment that will occur during a high majority of weeks during this term. If any item on your schedule does not occur for most weeks during this term:

☐ Delete any activity that doesn’t happen each week from your weekly schedule. You can schedule special appointments on your term-long calendar. These might include non-regular meetings with friends, non-regular appointments (like dentist visits, trips to the DMV, etc).

☐ Delete any commitments you make to yourself but that have flexible time spans. This might include sleeping, study time, gym visits, time to eat, or any other activity that you can schedule flexibly. We will be adding these to your schedule later in this activity but not yet. The first draft of this schedule is designed to get an accurate picture of the commitments you’ve made to be physically present with other people.

STEP 5: CALCULATE YOUR WEEKLY REQUIRED MEETING TIMES

Step 5.1: Look over your draft of your weekly schedule that you made in Steps 1 – 4 above.

Step 5.2: Download our weekly schedule analyzer by clicking the button below:


Step 5.3: In the weekly schedule analyzer, fill out Table 5.1- Estimate Time Commitments (see image below). Count up the total number of hours you will dedicate for each activity type. Place the totals in the appropriate rows. For more information about each category, see descriptions below.

Figure: Table 5.1-Estimate Time Commitments. This table is designed to help you count the total number of hours you’ve committed for in-person events and class-related learning.

Course Load: Your course load is the total number of hours per week you need to be physically present in-class for the classes you are enrolled in for the upcoming term.

☐ Your course load can be approximated by the number of units you are enrolled in this quarter. For example, a student with 13 units can expect to spend 13 hours per week in class. Be careful with lab classes which are usually only one unit but meet for 2-4 hours depending on the course.

☐ For online classes, set aside one hour for each unit of the course. Instructors for online courses usually design asynchronous, online activities to replace in-class meeting time.

Weekly Work Hours: Your weekly work hours are the number of hours you plan to work each week at a part-time or full-time job to make income outside of your academic load. This can include work at an internship, a family business, the gig economy, or any other type of work that you plan to do on a weekly basis.

Other Weekly Activities:  Your other weekly activities are the number of hours per week you plan to spend doing anything other than schoolwork and employment such as athletic training, reoccurring family responsibilities, club meetings, medical appointments, or any other reoccurring, scheduled, weekly appointments.

Step 5.4: Add up the total number of hours for your course load, weekly work hours and other weekly activities. Put this total in the space marked Total Number of Hours for Required Meetings Per Week. This number approximates the number of hours you are required to be physically present for some event each week for the upcoming term.

STEP 6: BUDGET YOUR WEEKLY STUDY HOURS

Step 6.1: In your weekly schedule from Steps 5 above, find Tables 6.1: Your Budgeted Study hours (see image below).

Figure: Table 6.1-Your Budgeted Study Hours. This table is designed to help you count the total number of hours you might set aside for studying outside of class during this academic term.

Step 6.2: In column 1 of Table 6.1 (titled “Course Name”), write the name of each course you are enrolled in.

Step 6.3: In column 2 of Table 6.1 (titled “Desired Letter Grade”), write your desired letter grade for each course.

Step 6.4: In column 3 of Table 6.1 (titled “Number of Units”), write the number of units associated with each course. You can check your student records to verify the unit count assigned to each course.

Step 6.5: In your weekly schedule from Steps 5 above, find Tables 6.2: Study Hour Estimates (see image below).

Figure: Table 6.2- Study Hour Estimates. This table is designed to help you estimate the amount of time you might budget to study outside of class depending on your desired grade.

Step 6.6: In column 4 of Table 6.1 (titled “Minimum Budgeted Study Hours Outside of Class Per Unit Per Week”), determine your Weekly Budgeted Out-of-Class Study Hours associated with each class. To calculate this number, multiply the number of units of the course by the Minimum Budgeted Study Hours Outside of Class Per Unit Per Week. For example, if I want an A in a 5.0 unit course, I might budget 4 X 5 = 20 hours of study time outside of class.

☐ Your weekly budgeted out-of-class study hours are the number of hours you plan to spend outside of class studying for each class each week. I encourage you to make these estimates with your desired grades in mind. Getting an A in most classes requires a different level of commitment than getting a C. The point of this activity is to help you be proactive in thinking through your commitments now at the start of the term so you can have more flexibility later.

☐ Use your judgment to improve accuracy for your situation. For example, suppose you want an A in a math class that you’re not familiar with. Suppose also that you’ve struggled with math in the past. Instead of budgeting 4 hours per week per unit of out of class study time, you might budget 5 hours per unit per week. Conversely, if you’re taking a 1-unit yoga class, you might budget 1 hour of out of class study time per week for an A in that class. One of the principles of effective scheduling is to be conservative: BUDGET MORE TIME THAN YOU THINK YOU’LL NEED. This relates to the idea of a fudge ratio and to creating flexibility by planning for the toughest time in the quarter.

Step 6.7: In the last entry of the fourth column, add up all of your budgeted weekly study hours for all courses you are enrolled in. This number should be written next to the title Total Budgeted Out-of-Class Study Hours Per Week.

STEP 7: ESTIMATE YOUR WEEKLY COMMITMENTS

Step 7.1: In your weekly schedule from Steps 5 above, find Tables 7.1: Estimate Your Total Weekly Commitments (see image below).

Figure: Table 7.1- Estimate Your Total Weekly Commitments. This Table is designed to help you estimate how many hours of work you’ve committed to this quarter. The hope is this number represents how busy you’ll be during the most intense weeks of the academic term.

Step 7.2: In Row 2 in Table 7.1 (titled “Total number of hours for required meetings per week”), write the Total Number of Hours for Required Meetings Per Week from Step 5.4 .

Step 7.3: In Row 3 in Table 7.1 (titled “Total budgeted out-of-class study hours per week”), write the Total Budgeted Out-of-Class Study Hours Per Week from Step 6.7.

Step 7.4: Add your required meeting hours (from Step 5.4) to your budgeted study hours (from Step 6.7). Put this sum next to the Total Number of Active Working Hours Per Week (Row 5 in Table 7.1).

Step 7.5: Using your work on Steps 1 – 7 above to answer the leading questions in Table 7.2: Identify Symptoms of Scheduling Traps.

Figure: Leading questions to help you identify symptoms of scheduling traps. Each of the questions in this table are designed to help you figure out if you’ve created a schedule that might be too ambitious. If you answer yes to any of the questions above, you may be falling into a scheduling trap.

Once you’ve finished answering those questions, you’re done with your first draft of your weekly schedule. The next step we’ll take in this process is to address potential scheduling traps.

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