Engineering Pocket Schedule: Get Organized

Why a Ridiculously Simple, Pocket-Friendly Schedule is the Easiest Way to Get and Stay Dialed Throughout the Term


Lacy’s first semester of engineering school: my course schedule looked as random as projectile vomiting. No weekday schedule was the same, some classes were bright and early, others lasted until late at night, classes were all over campus and—just to keep us nimble—one was at a different campus a mile down the road.

engineering pocket scheduleI trudged on, trying to muscle my way through, but found myself wasting so much time being disoriented and not knowing exactly what I should be doing and where I was going. You don’t have to have an abjectly awful course schedule to feel this way.

Even friendly course schedules leave plenty of time to be sidetracked, distracted, or go with the flow, which oddly never seems to go exactly where you should be heading.

I finally felt so discombobulated that I turned to my trusty spreadsheet for help. (A spreadsheet is a desperate engineer’s best friend.) I drafted a schedule I could write on to prioritize and plan my week to keep my head in the game and stop wasting time on crap I didn’t care about.

Now you’re probably thinking: A spreadsheet?! To print out on paper and write on? With, like, what–a pen? We all have calendars on our devices now. I’ll just use that like everyone else.

herd cats like a bossYou’re right–we all do have calendars on our devices. And email, and texting, and messenger, and cameras, and every other app known to mankind. Listen, I’ve designed apps and can tell you their sole purpose is to trick you into paying attention to them.

That’s precisely why we’re NOT going to use your calendar on your device, grasshopper.

Remember what we’re trying to do here? Get and keep you on point!

Now, back to my story….

stay focused like a bossMy little pocket schedule saved me. Semester after semester and year after year, I tweaked and improved it so that by the end of school I was not only earning the best grades, I was also doing it with the least amount of time input. I had time to sleep, get fit, think, hang out with friends, and be spontaneous without giving up what really mattered to me.

You can too!

How to Create a Schedule to Get–and Stay–Organized and Focused on the Gold!

1 Define your term goals

Write down your goals for the quarter or semester, including school, life, family, and health.

We know, this sounds like a step totally worth skipping. But don’t. You want to have the bigger picture in mind when you’re planning out each week. Because without a destination in mind, any path will get you there.

2Whittle it down

Define what really matters (prioritize your goals) and remember that you can’t do it all well. Less and better.

3Download the Pocket Schedule and personalize it

  1. Adjust the times, if needed, to align with your waking times
  2. Add your lecture, lab, and tutorial times (if you attend them) since these won’t change from week to week
  3. Print it out – because you want to be away from digital distractions when you access it. (It’s so easy to open your calendar to check what you’re doing and get pulled away by your emails or messenger or a million other things—don’t!)

4Block out your have-tos

Unless you teleport or live on campus, block out your commute times. Consider other essentials, too, like getting groceries on Tuesdays when you might get a discount at the local supermarket or time for elaborate grooming rituals on Sundays.

5Define your week’s objectives

Write your projects, work, and week’s goals in the right column. Check that they’re in line with those term goals you created in steps 1 and 2.

6Chunk out your time

Starting with the top priority, start assigning time to each task/class, being specific with how you spend your time. The goal is to remove the question of what you’ll be doing during your work times and ensure that they align with your weekly goals.

That’s it! Rinse and repeat steps 4 to 6 each week and you know you’ll always be on the path to greatness.

If you still think this goal-setting and scheduling stuff is all hokey and prefer to keep muscling through engineering school without a game plan, knock yourself out. But if your old system or old non-system isn’t exactly demolishing your courses, then what do you have to lose by trying?

Try out a schedule in your pocket for a few weeks and let us know how it worked out!

You got this!

P.S. If you’re looking for how to a plan to streamline your studying for an exam, score our free Exam Prep Guide!

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