Big picture planning

The first place to start when you have a task or project to complete is to work out exactly what you have to do and when it has to be done by. Bigger picture planning is important so you can work out the time and resources that are required to complete the individual tasks. For coursework students, this is a job you need to do at the start of each semester.

The ANU academic year generally lasts for 28 weeks, plus exam periods. The first week of each semester is usually spent introducing the course/discipline, sorting out tutorials and labs etc. This leaves 12 weeks during which most courses will cover the required material. 

Semester plans

Sample filled in semester planner

Many students find using our Semester Planner (PDF, 331.99 KB) a very useful way to acheive bigger picture planning. The planner has room for you to include each of your courses and then for each course, all the assessment tasks. In week 1 when you get your course outlines, you will be able to fill in the details regarding due dates and how much the task is worth. Use this information to fill in the planner. You might find it helpful to use a colour code to help distinguish between courses. 

Now work backwards from each task. Think carefully about how much time you need to allocate for each task. How long will it take you to complete an essay or a report? If you are new to this discipline or it is a particulary challenging task, you may need longer to complete. For exams, depending on what they are assessing, you may need to be doing some work on them each week.

Once you have filled the planner in, you can now see from week to week what tasks you need to be working on. You will also be able to identify "hotspots" or times in the semester where you will be particularly busy and may need to spend more time on study than during other weeks.

Now display your planner somewhere prominent so that you can keep yourself on track. Adjust if necessary - as you become more experienced in writing, studying and notetaking, you may need less time for some tasks but as tasks become more complex they may require more work. Group tasks can provide particular challenges are you need to consider other student's schedules, so it is good to factor this in.

Other big picture tools

A yearly planner and/or diary is a handy tool for planning out your entire year. ANU specific ones are produced each year by the ANU Shop and ANUSA/PARSA . These have the teaching breaks, public holidays and exam periods already marked out. 

Some students find it useful to use electronic tools. There are many such tools freely available to students such as Microsoft Office which includes Outlook and Excel - both excellent organisation tools. Other students make use of Google Calendar and other Google tools. Both these suites of products have the advantage of cloud based storage which means you can access from multiple devices and locations.

Establishing a routine >>