Structure your day
Why reinvent the wheel? You get up every morning, and you go to school
from 8 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. Some things happen regularly.
Put down appointments first
Take a sheet of paper and write across the top each day of
the week (Sunday, Monday, etc.). On the left, start with the time
you get up in the morning and go until your bedtime. Fill in the
things you do every day. Put appointments in red. For example,
school 8 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. Every Monday through Friday that structure
However, you must now work out the rest of the structure. For example,
if you have a job or athletics, be sure and enter those hours in red.
Every commitment you have that involves others and/or being a certain place
at a certain time becomes an appointment and should be entered in red.
Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday
Thursday Friday Saturday
Decide on your study time
I suggest a three hour block of time for high school students.
Write those three hours in green ink. Think of it as your learning
time. One of my students told me that he didn't need three hours
to do homework. “Don't you want to learn anything?” I asked.
“Sure,” he replied, “I’d like to learn to play the guitar.” We decided
that he would do his homework and spend the rest of his three hour block
playing his guitar. He thus practiced every day and did well.
You should begin to have problems
Once you start putting this down on paper, you will probably
find that you have problems having enough time. School, work, athletics,
and other commitments are a given. If you plan to sleep eight hours
a night, you probably are out of time before you block out your study time,
especially if you like to talk on the phone or hang out with your friends.
The three hour secret
Most students approach school as though it should take no effort.
I'm not talking about sitting at a desk for three hours. You will
need a ten minute break every fifty minutes, and you will have some interruptions.
Also, some nights you will get home late.
The three hour study block keeps you from underestimating the time you
need. The further you go in school, the more you will have long range
assignments like reading a novel on your own and having the report ready
on a certain date.
Many students are shocked when they find out that they can't
find enough hours on their structure schedule. However, that is the
reason we are doing it. We all underestimate how long things take
You might have to give up something, or you might be able to
combine some activities. Perhaps you have some free time at school
you can write in green ink and use for study time.
Leave fun time
Of course you need a social life and time for your special
interests. We simply must find a way to structure in friends and
our special interests. Maybe you can visit friends during the school
day or on weekends.
You should leave at least one hour a day to do something you want to
do. Rather than wasting time, you will use time more efficiently
if you feel interested and refreshed. Life becomes a drag if we spend
time doing stressful, serious things with no recreational breaks.
Don't give up
You might need to work with the structure for a couple of weeks
to find out how to group things together to get it all in. You might
have to eliminate something.
Unfortunately, if it won't work on paper, it won't work. Of course
you can be flexible. The point is that if you go to a basketball
game rather than using your study time, you know you haven't done homework.
A structure allows you to know where you are.
This week, play with the structure of your day. Experiment,
and don't give up.
(C) 2001, Don Mize