Not everyone is a planner. For example, me — I hate planning.
Actually, scratch that. I hate getting into all the details that seem overwhelming when it comes time to plan something. If I’m going on a trip, I’d much rather have someone else plan the details. I’ll give some big-picture direction — “Pick us a place on the beach,” or “Find time to go whitewater rafting” — but I don’t want in on the nitty gritty.
Even so, planning your semester is a crucial study strategy that you need to develop. In fact, it’s so important that we spend a considerable amount of time during our study skills courses teaching organization and productivity (planning is a big part). I’m convinced of this even as a serious non-planner.
Why? Well, consider these 4 benefits of planning your semester before it ever starts:
1. Your stress levels will stay even throughout the semester
This really interesting thing happens right about the middle of each semester and then again at the end. Midterms and finals destroy students’ emotional, mental, and physical lives.
Sure, that’s a bit of an exaggeration. But only a little bit. Each semester is filled with these mini stress level spikes that most students experience. Crunch time comes up and students get destroyed by their work loads and stress levels. Nothing makes you want to take a nap like a serious spike in the stress level.
Planning your semester can even out those stress spikes and help you stay sane all year.
2. Your grades will end up being higher
We’re talking about GPA here. It’s important. It’s not everything, but it’s still important. If you want higher grades, you need to be the one in the driver’s seat. You set the tone, not your class work.
If you don’t plan your work, though, you tend to get caught up in the next most urgent thing on your plate. And then the thing after that. And ultimately your grades will be limited by whatever time and energy you have left over after your schedule gets done with you.
3. You will end up spending (a lot) less total time
More study sessions of less time are much better for you than fewer long study sessions. That’s right. The three hour cram session isn’t as helpful as you think it is.
In fact, if you spread 2 hours of studying out over three days, you would likely be in better shape than if you spent 3 hours on one day. Yes, you can get an hour of your time back by just spreading out those study sessions. But you have to plan in advance if this is going to happen. No one accidentally has additional study sessions.
4. You can work on your schedule — and play on your schedule
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. In fact, it’s not just Jack. And it’s not just boys. We all need a bit of downtime.
If you want to get more time back to spend on things that aren’t school, one of the best ways to do it is planning. It’s simple, I know. But it pays off in huge ways. Don’t let your homework define your schedule. Define your schedule and put your homework where you want it.
Do you have anything to add to the conversation? Let us know on social media – @StudyRight.