Once you have developed a clear idea of your key activities and their related tasks you can begin to make plans.
A plan or timetable needs to suit your personal needs. It is pointless spending time and money on producing a plan in glorious technicolour if it doesn’t suit your preferred way of working.
Many people find it useful to plan their time on a variety of levels:
- A term or semester-based timetable indicating regular and predictable events in your week
- A detailed week plan highlighting your workload over a seven day period
- A daily diary, deciding first thing in the morning what is to be done that day. Such a list can be checked throughout the day, ticking off those tasks already achieved.
When making your own plans, you may find it useful to consider your regular or timetabled commitments e.g. every Tuesday you have a seminar.
Identify all such regular commitments and put them into your plan. With a clear picture of these fixed points you can arrange the rest of your activities around them.
Working on a project means you will have to do detailed planning, and in many cases, will have to account for tasks and activities on a day by day basis, if not hourly. Building up your planning skills now will be invaluable to your future employment.
Once you have written a task sheet, detailing all of the tasks in the order in which they will need to be done, you can develop an action plan by assessing how long each task will take and giving each task (or stage) a deadline for completion.
Action plans can cover a range of time periods from a matter of hours to weeks, months or years. They only take a few minutes to construct but will be invaluable in helping you plan your time. Your ability to break down a key activity into tasks, and subsequently to accurately estimate the time needed to complete them, will develop with time. However, you should always be realistic; be wary of allowing too short a time which will only result in your missing deadlines, or too much time which is simply a waste.
Think of as an action plan as an expanded to-do list. The following page looks at prioritising your tasks, which should help you to build up your action plan or to-do list.