A new semester is starting for me this week and I felt this was the perfect time to share how I’m planning for the new year. Many people go into a new school year totally unprepared. Planning for a new semester is more than buying notebooks or arranging your school bag.

Here are a few tips on what you can do before you resume and a few weeks into school to set yourself up for an amazing school year:

1. Structure your week: Take a look at your timetable and create a skeleton plan for the new semester, for when you will do certain school work, etc. This is to help you put some structure around your first few weeks, at least before you have a more solid workflow.

You can have a weekly schedule to know which activities to do and when. This applies not only to school work, but also to your extracurricular activities. Scout a time and determine the best time for each task for each day or for each week. You can use a physical notebook or other digital options.

Create a general schedule for the months ahead, then tweak it as often as possible to stay on track. I personally use notion for day-to-day organisation, but I scribble down to-do lists on paper sometimes. Make the most of planning, because you really can’t remember everything all the time.

2. Time blocking: Divide your day into blocks for specific events, tasks or activities. For example, I separate my time for school and the time after. I then divide all I have to do into 2 or 3 major tasks of the day. This will help me focus on what is important throughout the day and measure my effectiveness during the day.

Prioritise your tasks. Start with specific and fixed time blocks e.g lectures and classes, then add other activities to where they fit best. This will help you be realistic and know when you can exercise, rest, cook, go out etc.

It is also important to set out time to plan each day (morning or evening) for about 5 -15 minutes. This is where you assess the work you’ve done, decide your pending tasks and their level of urgency and allocate time to attend to them for that day or for the next day (assuming you’re planning at night).

3. Free time: Allocate a bit more time for tasks/activities so as to get an opportunity to remain flexible. Don’t be too strict with your schedule that you are constantly trying to keep up with it. This will give you space to move things around when necessary.

This also means you may constantly have free time and you must learn to use that extra time wisely. For example, you can complete urgent tasks, study for the next period or take a much-needed rest during class breaks.

Remember to be flexible with your study and organisation techniques. Don’t hold on too much to one method or another. If what you’re currently doing is not working, do your research and switch it out for a more effective study technique.

4. Prepare an organisational system: For deadlines, assignments, projects, tests and exams and their studying plans, your weekly schedules and time blocking will work. When you are done with time management, however, you will need to organise your books and files.

So while you still have the time, declutter. Prepare your mind, study space and devices for what’s coming next. Go through your phone, tablet or desktop and make space for the new materials you will be adding. If you’re that extra, you could even prepare music playlists for studying.

5. Set goals: Finally, Be SMART and set goals not just for your grades, but for the kind of work process you envision. Set goals for how much you want to rest and how you want to improve other areas of your life that may be affected by school.

Now is the time to fix your sleep schedule, build good habits and follow new routines. Determine when you want to wake up, dedicate time to exercise and plan out what and how you will be eating.

A lot of things change when school starts. You can make conscious decisions before all that stress kicks in and live the kind of life that will make you truly fulfilled along with getting the good grades we all aim for.

Do something else outside of school. Remember, you don’t have to wait to have all the time in the world to improve yourself or grow your skills. Setting out 30 minutes or less for a few days a week will yield better results than you expect.

Have a great school year ahead,


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1 Response

  1. Yinka says:

    Really helpful tips.
    Thank you!

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