Skills Booster: Plan like a pro

You made a planning for the upcoming block, but the execution of it goes a bit (or completely) different. Familiar? Don't worry, a plan is never a perfect prediction of reality. But with a realistic time schedule, you will go a long way.

The step-by-step plan below helps you out!

Step 1: Find out deadlines and requirements

Check when you have to take an exam, give a presentation or hand in a paper. Your goal is to pass such an examination. Afterwards, find out what requirements or criteria your knowledge or end product must meet in order to achieve this goal. For example, for an exam find out what the type of questions (open or multiple choice) you have to answer, and for a presentation or paper think of the required criteria. This will make it clear what you are working towards. Then state the deadlines for these different objectives in your planning for each subject/course.

Download the mid-term planning (Word document)

Step 2: From activities to sub-goals

Illustratie van een student die nadenkt over studieactiviteiten.

Now that you have the end goal and the corresponding deadlines in sight, it is important to think about the study activities that will help you achieve these goals. Think for example of making summaries, studying notes or selecting literature for your research plan. These are your sub-goals! To achieve them, you also need to know what a good study approach is. For example, how to prepare a presentation or what a good approach is for a writing assignment.

Step 3: Linking time to activities

Set sub-goals for each week and then decide exactly which study tasks you will do each week. Try to estimate how much time each task will take, and document this as well. Don't forget to plan extra time for unforeseen events, because your week often turns out slightly different than you had planned. This helps you avoid procrastination.  

Next, look at what else you do in your week, like sports, going out, or a side job. From here you can determine when there is room to study, and how many hours you have for that. Then compare whether the time needed for your study tasks and the time available in your week match. Need more time than you have? See if you can free up time (e.g. by working less) or decide not to do certain study activities or to do them less thoroughly Set priorities: what is most important at this moment? 

Now you can fill in your planning!

Download the week plan (Word document)

Step 4: Monitor and adjust

Illustratie van een student achter een bureau die zwaait.

You have a well-organised schedule in your hands! Now you can start using it. It is important to check regularly whether you are still on schedule. Your planning is never a perfect prediction of how things will go. Monitoring and adjusting are part of it! Sometimes you need more time and sometimes you have time to spare. Don't panic if things don't go as planned; that's not a bad thing at all: reconsider what you want to do, decide what has priority and see what you can do with what is not possible (right now). Adjust your schedule accordingly and go for it!

Book a tutoring session

The Skills Lab offers free writing tutoring and study coaching. You can discuss your academic writing assignment and/or any questions you have about studying with a trained student! 

Writing tutoring
Study coaching


  • Teachers from Educational Development & Training 
  • Skills Lab 
  • National Program for Education (NPO) 

Contact Skills Lab

  • Mail to or call +3130 253 630
  • University Library Utrecht Science Park | Room 2.45
  • Heidelberglaan 3, 3584 CS Utrecht