A weekly study timetable is essential to be an organised university or college student, particularly when you are a busy online learner.
We suggest you use the timetable template above (or similar) to help organise your week.
- You can fill in the timetable in Microsoft Word or just with a pen or pencil.
- Tip: It's best to start with fixed commitments.
But there is more to study planning than a timetable.
- A complete study plan also contains goals and strategies to make your study efforts work.
- The extra elements are essential for studying online.
- Distance education students learn independently and benefit from strategies to stay motivated.
What is an online study plan?
An online study plan is a structured schedule for students. It details study times and contains learning goals.
University students should create a schedule where certain days and times are allocated to online study and nothing else. Developing a study plan not only helps you to be organised, but it also makes you accountable for learning outcomes.
As an online student, a study plan is vital. You need to have the discipline and persistence to do your studies. External students don't get energy from face-to-face interactions with teachers and peers.
How do I plan my studies?
The aim in study planning is to create a tool to help you navigate your course efficiently. The plan is personal to you and must reflect your study methods and lifestyle.
To create a study plan, a good starting point is to reflect on how your time is spent and prioritise what is important. Online study time needs to fit into your schedule. But you should aim to study when you are well rested and mentally alert.
A habit that most outstanding students get into is to establish some sort of study goal before or at the beginning of each study session. Having a goal boosts motivation, makes you accountable and ensures you keep making progress.
Being realistic about what you can accomplish is also important. For example, allocating very large chunks of time to online study might end up having a demoralising effect. Study plans need balance. There should be rewards (e.g. free time) after you achieve study goals.
Steps to create a study plan
- Assess your current schedule. A good starting point is to assess how you currently spend your time. This will help identify how much time is available for study. You might also find activities that waste time and can be cut.
- Construct a timetable. To prepare a timetable, start by blocking out times where there are commitments. Then you can start allocating time for important things, including your course. To succeed at online study, you need to set aside a good number of hours for each course. Your timetable needs to leave room for extra study (in case you need it) and, of course, time for yourself.
- Set study goals. You can do this formally or just spend some time thinking about it. Good students set long term and short term goals. A longer term goal (for a course) might be to complete all readings and exercises before entering the exam period. A short term goal might be to work solidly for the next hour before you take a break.
- Establish good habits. A study plan works best if it is followed consistently. It helps to start well early on and build great habits. These help carry you through during any periods when you might be busy, tired or just down on motivation.