While planning is no guarantee that deadlines will be met and everything will be done, it is a good way of helping you focus on the tasks at hand and giving you purpose and direction to your study. Weekly schedules and daily ‘to do’ lists will really help you organise and prioritise, meaning you can clarify what’s really important and commit yourself to what you have planned. And there’s nothing more satisfying than ticking off completed tasks!
Developing an “action plan”
Slightly more complex than a ‘to do’ list, an effective action plan should involve a concrete and structured timetable.
– Firstly, you will need to have a clear objective (for example, to achieve a certain set of A-level grades). Your goal will need to be challenging enough to stimulate you, and you should be precise about what you want to achieve.
– You should then list the benefits you would gain by achieving your goal (a place at a specific university or more likely to get a certain job).
– Begin by identifying what you will do right now. There’s no need to write an action plan that won’t begin for another six months.
– Think of ways you can get closer to achieving your goal. Break it down into manageable chunks so it doesn’t seem overwhelming.
– Put steps into a logical, chronological order, with the date you will start each step.
– Why not give yourself a little reward once you’ve reached the end point of each step? It could be anything from a meal out with friends to a new item of clothing.
– Allow an element of flexibility in your planning. Sometimes you may underestimate timing for an assignment, for example. Aim to map several paths leading to your goal so that if one becomes blocked you can take another route.
– Add motivational comments along the way to help keep your focus. Just make sure motivation is a benefit for you, not someone else! “revise now and I can travel during the summer (no re-takes!)” is more motivational than comparing yourself to others or trying to please family members.
Finally, make sure you surround yourself with like-minded people who are ambitious and will encourage and support your to reach your targets. While it is good to have an end goal to work towards, don’t forget to enjoy and learn from the journey as you go. Good luck!
Are you or your teenager starting college this year? Let us know how you’re preparing in the comments box below.
Take a look at our education page for books, workbooks and other resources to help you through college.