You Can’t Succeed Without a Plan

Many students arrive in college having little experience with planning and managing their work and time. In high school, your teachers probably planned the work, and administrators planned the schedule. Bells told you when to move, learning happens during class periods – you get the idea. Even if you kept an agenda in high school, the work was probably planned by other people.

College is different. There’s more work, and you must plan when and how to do it. To succeed, you need a system that helps you to prioritize work, plan where and for how long to do it, monitor your progress, and make continuous adjustments.

Explore this section to learn specific strategies for planning and scheduling your work and managing your time.


Planning and Time Management

Time Management Tips and Strategies

In college, studying priorities change from week to week and day to day. Balancing immediate and long-term priorities is a challenge. Fortunately, there are several simple systems for strategizing and planning that you can consider and put into practice. As you learn about these strategies and put them to work, remember that good planning and time management is a skill. When you commit to doing it you will see immediate results. With practice, you will get even better. 

Explore the links below for great advice on how to plan your work: what to think about, what steps to follow, and how to get better at it over time.

Time-blocking a Study Schedule

Scheduling your time thoughtfully is at the center of any effective approach to time management. Time blocking is an effective approach in which you look at a weekly calendar view and map out blocks of time – when your classes meet, when you have other important things to do (like eat, or work at a job) and when you study. Blocking your time helps you to see all of the things you need time for, which is very helpful to remembering the schedule you create, and to allocating time effectively.

Explore the links below for details on how to set up a block schedule using Google Calendar (which comes free with your uri.edu email) or other block calendars.


The Study Cycle

When planning your week-to-week and day-to-day studying, it helps to have some strategic ideas about what kind of work you need to do for each of your classes and how to keep those classes in balance. Your goal is always to set your time in a way that maximizes your learning and remembering. On this website, the section on study strategies will help you consider what to do when you study — in particular, to space your studying over time for maximum learning  The Study Cycle is a system for applying those strategies to the work of deciding when and for how long to study in each class. It is something every student planner should be considering when they make their plans. 

Explore the links below to learn about how to apply this study system to your scheduling strategy.

Overcoming Common Planning Challenges

When you start planning your work, look out for some common mistakes! For example, there’s  the Planning fallacy: a very common tendency to underestimate how much time a person will need to do something well. Another is multi-tasking (planning too many different tasks too close together). Our brains have difficulty refocusing when we move from task to task (this is called a cognitive switching penalty). Even things like planning to study at times when you are not usually as mentally alert, or planning to study in spaces that aren’t good for studying, can waste time and increase procrastination. There are challenges to be aware of, and a lot of things to consider to really maximize your productivity! 

Explore the links below to learn more about common problems and how to overcome them.


Planning and online courses

With online courses and remote learning, your schedule can become even less structured. There may be no need to go to classes at fixed times, less communication with professors, and fewer reminders. Help may feel harder to find. It can be harder to connect with classmates about what and when to study. Without day-to-day reminders, it can be easier to forget things, harder to estimate time and harder to feel motivated to work. Finding good study spaces can be a challenge. For these reasons and more, careful planning becomes more important than ever.

Click the links below to learn more about planning and managing your time when working remotely.