Hi! I’m Jenny Orten, and I work in Learning Resources at Middlebury College.
This video is Part 2 in our series and focuses on executive function, our Building Better Routines Weekly Planner, and our Project Planner.
We suggest that you check out Part 1, which is a video about executive function and the CTLR Semester Planner.
When we talk about time management, it’s important to know that it’s not just about managing your time.
Time alone is not enough. It’s just as important to think about your executive function budget as your time budget.
We’ve all reached that point, sometimes in the middle of the night during a long study session, when you literally can’t think anymore.
You have more time, but you can’t do anything else because you’ve exhausted your brainpower.
The goal here is not to ever reach that point.
Here’s our Weekly Planner which supports executive function by helping you build routines and plan ahead, because tasks that are automated become easier to do.
So the first thing you’re going to do is schedule in your class times. Use the same colors as your semester planner.
We encourage you to schedule any asynchronous lectures, if you have them, just like you would a class.
Then you’re going to put in your meals. Your jobs. Personal commitments that you have.
Time with your friends. And lastly, the all important coursework. Create some gray blocks on your planner for coursework.
But now what specifically are you going to put in those blocks?
It’s time to turn to the Project Planner, which is basically a to-do list of assignments with estimates of the time that they will take.
Once a week, sit down with your Semester Planner and your syllabi and write down what you need to do and how long you think it will take you to do it.
Break up larger assignments into smaller chunks.
Estimating the time it takes to do something is difficult, but the more you do it, the easier it gets.
So if you have regular work for a class, like reading or a pre-lab, note that on the project planner (with these stars here) and try to work on those assignments at the same time every week.
Over time, it will take slightly less effort and willpower to get those tasks done.
And I’ve scheduled some of those in right here.
So once you know what you need to do that week, you determine when you’re going to do it.
Remember, use the time between classes.
Think about when you do your best work, morning or evening, and schedule your most difficult work then.
Then fill in each homework block with the work you plan to do in that time.
So, it’s important to acknowledge that creating routines is easier some semesters than others.
Also, this kind of very specific planning does not work for everyone.
Some people experiment with this and learn that they’re much better off doing a simpler to-do list every day.
However, others find that if they can go straight into executing a plan they’ve already made, rather than using up executive function coming up with a plan for the day, that it can make a big difference.
It’s worth experimenting with and see what works best for you.
The schedule’s not meant to box you when or overwhelm you, but rather to help you take guilt free personal time with enough time to complete your work.
Scheduling doesn’t have to repress spontaneity.
If you have envisioned one way that things could go, it’s much easier to change your plan without sabotaging your work.
Lastly, you can’t do your work well if you don’t also take care of yourself.
You need basic self care to support your body, mind, spirit, and executive function.
Your academic work will suffer if you ignore self care.
You will suffer too.
Using these schedules is an evolving process.
Try them out, reflect upon how it worked, and revise as you go.
The measure of success here is not “did I follow my schedule exactly?” but “did I get my work done and have a good week?”
Don’t give up and don’t beat yourself up if things don’t go exactly as planned, because they will not go as planned.
And if you’d like to collaborate with a partner to make this happen, please visit go/ace to schedule an appointment with one of our trained student ACEs.
Thanks for watching.