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The start of the academic year is usually filled with great intentions.  Plans for this to be a great year, in which students demonstrate (and are acknowledged for) their intellectual ability and academic skills, are prevalent.  Too often, these great intentions flounder because there isn't sufficient purposeful planning to enact what is required to achieve these great plans.

Plans require preparation and the appropriate use of time. Frequently, time seems to evaporate – especially when a task is not due for several weeks. To plan adequately for what lies ahead, students are well-advised to have a year-long planner on the wall near where they do assignments and to add items whenever they are announced so that a continuous planner for the use of time is easily available and acts as a reminder for when items of assessment are due and how students should allocate their time.

Each subject can be allocated a colour which is then used for everything associated with that subject. Synesthetes naturally identify a certain colour with specific letters so it can be useful if students link a certain colour with each subject.  It doesn't matter if different students select different colours for the same subject; what matters is the consistency of colour selection for each subject which is used by the student.

A date for when an assignment is due is not sufficient.  What the student plans to do and how the intervening time will be used is critical to record on the year-long planner.  Adding a date when a draft of the assignment is due to be submitted can be useful. Determining what needs to be done prior to a draft or completed assignment handed in should then be allocated a timeframe and this can also be recorded on the calendar.

Initially, it is likely that 'guesstimates' will be used to determine how much time is allocated for each task; however, with more experience, students are likely to become more realistic about how much time is required for each task.  Family and school commitments can be added. There have been occasions when some students (especially perfectionistic students) spend an inordinate amount of time on one part and struggle to complete the whole assignment in the time they have available.  By allocating a specific timeframe to each element or task, students set a time limit for themselves so that the whole assignment is completed, submitted and marked.

There is an idiom: 'cut your coat according to your cloth'.  Essentially, this means that in this context, it is necessary to allocate only the time that is available.  Planning is required if this is to occur.  Everyone needs to allocate time for travel, bathing, eating, sleeping, revising, and getting homework done. Extracurricular activities and socialisation should fit around these activities.  When will assignments and other academic tasks get done? This is where planning can be useful. Some students like to use computer calendars; however, the computer must be opened to be read, whereas a year-long calendar on the wall is easily seen (and added to) by students.

​© Michele Juratowitch

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Last reviewed 10 February 2023
Last updated 10 February 2023