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We find ourselves saying this a lot lately, but there really have been a significant number of changes recently and it’s important to acknowledge that even though change can be hard, we’re so proud of how well UNE students have jumped on board, supported one another and adjusted with grace. 

Today, we’re looking at routines and schedules, and making the most of a good time to analyse what’s been working for you and what you might like to try doing differently.

If you’re also acting as teacher for your kids now, you might like to include them and make this an activity. It’s great to have them involved in this planning, and negotiating about their schedules through a stressful time will help to give them a sense of control and certainty about the week, hopefully making it a bit easier to stick to! 🙂 


To start with, let’s clarify the difference between a schedule and a routine. 

Schedule – Generally planned out deliberately, and often written down. 

Routine – Similar to habits. Usually activities completed without planning. Something you don’t need to write down because you’ve done it so many times over. 

So what we’re aiming to do, is to develop a schedule that helps us move into a new routine for the duration of COVID-19 changes. (And hopefully learn some tips to make the adjustment process on the other end even easier!)


Step 1:

Grab a piece of paper and divide it into two columns (the second one only needs to be a few cm wide).

Brain dump all of the things that you need to complete through the week into the first column. You won’t need to be too specific (unless that’s your preference), we find it’s best to allow yourself room to move in your first draft (eg. CHEM100 Study, rather than CHEM100 Lecture, CHEM100 Tutorial, CHEM100 Readings etc).

Beside each item, in the second column, include an estimate of how long it will take you to complete the tasks/activity (eg. WRIT101 Study – 12 hours). Err on the side of caution if you’re unsure of timing – it’s always better to have extra free time rather than to feel rushed. 

Don’t forget to include time for sleep, hygiene (showers, bath time, skin care routines), for meal prep as well as cooking times, and for sitting down to relax and read a book or watch tv. This isn’t to impress anyone, so you don’t need to look as though you’re firing on all pistons 24/7, and you’re likely to find that you’re more productive in the working times if you also allow yourself the reward of down time. The body needs rest to recharge those batteries, including mental rest – not just physical!


Step 2: 

Make some notes about what you already know of your routine preferences (and those of your household if you’re planning for everyone). 

For instance, are you a morning person? Everyone’s up at the crack of dawn and will be powering through tasks? Perhaps you’re a night owl and like to listen to lectures in a quiet house after 8pm. 

Do need to have had a full meal (breakfast, lunch or dinner) before you can sit down to do readings. Have you noticed whether you have a 2pm or 3pm slump in the afternoons? And if so, what works to get your energy levels up again (perhaps a short walk outside, another coffee, a healthy snack etc)?

Whatever you can think of, jot it down in bullet points below your tasks list. This will become your ‘marking criteria’ once you’ve done up your first draft of the new schedule. 

Once you’ve considered what might work best, begin to group your tasks into blocks. Morning (before 10am), Middle (10am-2pm), Afternoon (2pm-5pm) and evening (after 5pm) are often helpful.


Step 3:

Find a planner that will work best for you. If you prefer to keep a diary, use that. If you are a wall planner kind of person, we’ve got you covered. Some households with kids or housemates prefer to use a whiteboard in a communal space so that everyone can keep up easily. Whatever works for you and your house is best, it doesn’t need to look the same as anyone elses. It doesn’t even need to look pretty! It just needs to be functional. 

If you love digital options, just add your appointments/jobs for the week into the calendar on your computer or phone. This has the added benefit of your being able to set reminders or alarms to prompt you to get each thing done!

To get started, we’d encourage you to use this Weekly Study Schedule to break everything down and slot it in by hours (roughly). 

* If you’re a visual learner, or you’re getting the kids involved in this activity to create their own schedules now they’re home all week, use post it notes or cut up small squares of coloured paper! Write each of your ‘tasks/activities’ onto a piece of paper to physically slot it into your schedule template. 


Step 4:

That list we made before, of notes about your preferences – read through it again and then have a look at the schedule you’ve just made up. Will your new schedule account for your meal or exercise breaks? Is it forcing you to work against what you find more natural (being productive in the evenings if you’re a morning person or vice versa)?

If it ticks all (or even most of) the boxes, and you have some wriggle room still, then you’re ready for Step 5. 


Step 5: 

Time to test out your new schedule! We suggest using the guide you have written up for a week, and keeping a note in your phone or on the fridge of the things you notice have worked, and things that haven’t. 

At the end of the week, sit down with your schedule and review how things went. Tweak it, OR if it really didn’t work out for you – throw it out and start from scratch with a new plan. 

If you find yourself needing to begin again, this doesn’t mean the week was lost or that you’ve done anything wrong. Look at it as a week of observing your needs more closely, and eliminating one option that didn’t suit – now you’re that much closer to finding what will work perfectly!


Let us know how you go below, and if you’re a social media user then be sure to tag @unesupport in any pics of your new schedule! What else would you consider when creating a new schedule?