IMPORTANCE OF PLANNING
As they say… “There is no time like the present”.
Planning and getting on top of everything can be a rather daunting task. Possibly due to the realisation of how much work is ahead of you, perhaps you believe planning to be an unnecessarily large task, or maybe you’re the type of person who tells themselves, ‘I’ve got plenty of time’, when you don’t… Sound familiar?
Trust me, returning back to your studies in September, whether that be to school, college or university, the workload very quickly ramps up. Therefore, planning and organising yourself at the very start of the academic year, before the homework, reading and assignments kick-in, will be a god send to yourself when you’re in the thick of it later. I don’t know about you, but when I return to University each year, I instantly feel as though I am eyeball deep in work before I’ve even begun my first lecture. Making sure I have my tasks, modules, goals and deadlines in order at the earliest opportunity puts me in the calmest state that one can be at this stage!
WHAT REALLY IS IT?
Planning is such a vital part of success, yet the military for example, see the ‘plan’ itself as rather irrelevant when looking at the bigger picture. So much so, they produce thousands and thousands of plans and only a few are actually implemented. Why is this?
“Planning is everything, the plan is nothing” – Dwight Eisenhower.
Once implemented, the plan itself is destined not to go by the book. In your case, your environment and people around you aren’t aware of your plan, so they certainly can’t be expected to follow it. Therefore the plan that’s the important part, but rather the process of planning – bare with me! With an effective planning process, when things change or go wrong, you’re able to react in the most effective and calculated way as you’ve thought of every outcome or situation.
“Planning is a process, not an event” – Simon Sinek.
We must therefore make the act of planning into a continuous process, creating and adapting numerous plans in order to be prepared for anything – within reason, life happens! 9 times out of 10, the first plan won’t work, but don’t beat yourself up when this happens. Plans need to be tweeked and altered for ultimate success, it’s a continual process, not a single event.
Planning in this way will mean that each action plan is thoroughly thought out with options for every scenario. This puts you in a strong position for success and means you’re ultimately ready for anything! Having looked at a plan from every angle, you will be informed enough to ensure mistakes are minimised across the board.
SET GOALS AND INTENTIONS
Partnered with any form of plan, are goals and intentions. We all know by now that ‘a goal without a plan is just a dream’, that’s why the only way to accomplish it is through consistent action. A plan carries no weight without a goal or intention in mind, as you have no reason driving you to follow through. Without goals, our plan lacks incentive, direction and purpose and a well-structured plan should ultimately direct actions which move us towards our goals in the most efficient way possible.
Coupling these two things with your plan creates a force to be reckoned with! You are much more likely to reach your goals with an effective plan, as this will keep you on track with set aims and targets at each step of the way. It also allows you to measure your progress with lots of small deadlines throughout your plan, from here you can see if and how the plan might need to be adjusted in order to meet your targets. Each deadline will link to a bigger one, until the project/plan is ultimately complete, being able to clearly recognise when you have completed and accomplished what you were aiming for is so important when it comes to your confidence, self-belief and motivation!
SCHEDULE SCHEDULE SCHEDULE
First things first, timetables! Isn’t that what we all look forward to receiving when we start another academic year?… Just me? But on a serious note, keeping a record of where you need to be and when you need to be there is so so vital for student life. For one, we don’t want to sabotage our grades for being late or forgetting all together about a lecture. Know where you need to be at all times and especially don’t forget to write down the room numbers, because I don’t know about you, but even after being at a university for 3 years, I still didn’t know all the room name and numbers. I’d also suggest making a note of your module tutors, so you know who to call on when you’re lost haha! Keeping this record to hand will mean you don’t need to memorise it, leaving valuable brain space for the information you really need to remember. It will also enable you to prioritise your homework and study time as you’ll know which modules are covered on which days and when to have each piece of work completed by.
Other important information that you definitely want to make a note of include; assignment deadlines, exams, events, trips, holidays, revision leave, campus activities and whatever else you DON’T want to forget. Keeping it all in one place will reduce the risk of forgetting or misplacing certain piece of information and will also make scheduling and prioritising revision and study time far easier.
BREAK IT DOWN
Starting a new year and being bombarded with alien modules and assignments can be very daunting, especially if you’re starting at a new college/uni. I highly recommend just breaking it all down at the earliest chance you get. Many universities will provide a breakdown of the weekly topics that will be covered, so if you can get access to this that’s perfect! As you go through the module you can keep a note of sessions you have covered and any you’ve missed or want to go over before revision starts. Keeping a record of important sessions such as guest speakers, assignment workshops and draft submissions, these are certainly ones you want to remember. This will enable you to take full advantage of what is being offered for each module and most definitely help with assignment stress as the deadline approaches. I say this every year, but it wasn’t until the final year of my degree that I really took it seriously, use the draft submissions! – if this is something your tutors offer. Even if you haven’t got an almost finished piece of work, hand in a plan or whatever you have up to that date, gaining feedback and developing on it can be the difference between moving up a grade or not – the bottom line is, don’t be afraid to ask for help!
THE STUFF YOU NEVER HAVE WHEN YOU REALLY NEED IT!
This recently came to me as I started the first week of my Master’s Degree. The very important information which you say you’ll never need and to be honest you’ll rarely use it, but when you do it’s almost impossible to find and you go into meltdown, you know?
Things like; links for ‘how to reference your work’, the phone number for when you’re not in, contact details for student support and to request assignment extensions. Of course, we all like to think that we’ll breeze through student life without any dilemmas cropping up, but no matter who you are, life happens. It’s better to be prepared than to tell yourself you won’t need it, I mean let’s be honest, students need all the help and support they can get! Keeping note of this information as and when you hear it, or seeking it out yourself and keeping it, again, ALL IN ONE PLACE, will 100% pay off when you need it most.
Take the time out NOW to plan, while your workload allows for it, before it really mounts up. You’ll thank yourself later, trust me! Having the chance to break down each step of your modules and study time will enable you to familiarise yourself with it all and reduce the likelihood of cramming in revision or missing deadlines at a later date. I can’t stress enough how helpful preparing in advance is, it allows you to effectively plan your time moving forward and to start as you mean to go on.
As always, thank you for your support and I really hope that you’re enjoying this student series. Whether you’re a student or not, I hope these posts are of use to you and that you’re able to apply it to your work or studies in some way.
Don’t forget to also comment below with your student tips – I always love to hear from you.