What is effective planning

  • Effective planning can be described as “planning ahead and preparing yourself as a student to focus on actions to achieve desired results” (Maheshwari, 2009).
  • Effective planning can assist a student to minimise the risk of failure.
  • A plan is like a map. When following a plan, students can always see how much they have progressed towards achieving their goals. It also provides clear directions for what they want to achieve.

The benefits of effective planning

  • Effectively planning helps students to achieve their goals and be able to meet the necessary deadlines.
  • It provides students with guidelines for the activities that they need to do on a particular day.
  • More information on the usefulness of effective planning is available at: http://www.mssu.edu/student-affairs/student-success-center/pdfs/effectiveplanning.pdf
  • The next slide is a video about a South African actress who provides tips on effective planning.

Source: Thahane, N., 2015. Skeem Saam star Natasha Thahane on Top Billing [Interview] (26 August 2015).

Click on the following link and answer the questions on the video you have just watched.

  • https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfub3X4Lw3f1Uo5-xcloAg2GWuU1jYfGJKiW-aGbOkC_P8lPw/viewform


Steps to manage time effectively
  • Step 1: Set goals
  • Step 2: Develop a schedule
  • Step 3: Revisit and revise your plan
Step 1: Set goals
  • Setting goals requires that you write them down and plan how to achieve them.
  • Your goals may change from time to time. So you should know which goals to stick to and which need to be modified.
  • Goals will give you a sense of direction of what to achieve and how to achieve the specific goal.
  • You can make use of the SMART principle (see the next slide) to set up your own goals.
Please click the link below for further information on the SMART principle:


Step 2 : Develop a schedule

The following steps can be used to develop a study schedule:
  • Prioritise all the tasks in their order of importance.
  • Set up a planned calendar by indicating all the deadlines of your tasks.
  • Look at all the tasks that have to be accomplished and add all their due dates on the calendar.
  • Ensure that you map out the time required for each task.
  • Ensure that you have adequate breaks at strategic periods.

Tools of developing a schedule

Step 3: Revisit and revise your plan

Now you know the goals that you want to reach and you have developed a planned schedule to reach those goals.

  • The next crucial step in effective planning is to check whether the plan is working.
  • This step will help you to identify your deviance when planning your schedule.
  • Then alter your schedule for better planning.

Managing different priorities.

  • The process of deciding which of several options or tasks is most important is known as prioritising and it is important to be able to prioritise the activities properly.
  • Prioritising involves deciding that Activity ‘A’ is more important than Activity ‘B’.
  • You should keep in mind that your priorities may change over time and in relation to various situations.
  • You should keep in mind that your priorities are influenced by your values and your goals.

Sam Case study

Sam is a student at the University of Johannesburg. He has started this year with his BA Honours degree. Sam stays at Benoni, which is far from the university and he uses 4 taxis every day. One taxi to Park Station in town and then from town to the university. Then vice versa when going home. Sam often arrives home late from the university which results in him not being able to study, because he is exhausted from his trips. In addition, he is unable to prepare for his tutorials as a student. Sam is always very busy because not only is he a student at the university, but also a tutor – which often means he needs to prepare for his tutorials professionally. He needs his job as a tutor, because he uses the money to pay his fees.

Sam suffers from poor time management. Therefore, he ends up postponing most of his assignments which leads to late submissions and leaving many of the tasks incomplete. One of the tasks is the research project that is expected to be submitted at the end of the year. Sam felt overwhelmed by all of this and confided in you as his friend. One of the things he mentioned was that he wants to cancel his studies due to the fact that he cannot cope anymore

Maipato case study

Maipato is doing BEd Honours in Educational Psychology at the University of Johannesburg. She stays at the Postgraduate residence, which is convenient because she is able to access the computer labs and the library for research purposes. She is also working on campus as a tutor in her faculty. She is tutoring third- and fourth-year students in the Faculty of Education.

At the beginning of the semester, Maipato attended the honours orientation, during which she learned a lot about the resources at the University, such as the services offered by PsyCaD and Library training. Students were also allowed to ask questions during the orientation.

While she was walking on campus she saw a poster about the workshop for postgraduates on time management. She attended the workshop and learned about the importance of prioritising. She started improving in her research and achieved distinctions in her assignments. Maipato applied the skills that she acquired at the workshop by using tools such as Calendar, activity logs and to-do lists. She has made a list of the tasks, including her research project and assignments, which she needs to complete on a particular day. Furthermore, Maipato keeps fit by taking part in Yoga classes and attending the gym at the University.

Reflection questions based on prioritising  your tasks

  • What am I doing that doesn’t really need to be done?
  • What am I doing that could be done by someone else?
  • What am I doing that could be done more efficiently?
  • What are the costs versus the benefits of doing this activity?How well does this activity fit into my goals?
Time management challenges
  • Putting off doing the things that you should be doing at this point!
Paralysing perfectionism:
  • The failure to recognise the difference between excellence and perfection.
Setting incorrect objectives:
  • Setting objectives that are unrealistic OR unattainable OR unchallenging.

Overcoming Challenges of Time Management

  • List all tasks that you are currently putting off. Then, remove two from the list by doing them now! Plan and set a schedule for dealing with the rest.
  • Reward yourself when tasks are completed and punish yourself when tasks are not completed on schedule.
Paralysing perfectionism:
  • Differentiate between excellence and perfection.
  • Excellence is achievable, healthy, satisfying and realistic.
  • Perfection is unattainable, frustrating and unrealistic.
Overcoming challenges of Time Management … continued
Setting incorrect objectives:

  • Use SMARTS criteria so that the objectives are: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Time-bound, and Supported by the organisation.
  • Objectives should be challenging.
What are the benefits of effective planning?
  • It reduces stress.
  • Goals are achieved in time.
  • Increase in fulfilled tasks.
  • Increase in productivity.
  • Increase in self-esteem.
  • Helps overcome stress & procrastination.
  • Helps being better organised.
  • Helps being in control of your situation.
  • Helps balance work & personal priorities.

Please click the link below to access more information:

Source: Pratas, A. C., 2014. Time Management Tips. [Sound Recording] (Powtoons).


Decision skills. (2014). SMART Goals – Quick Overview [Sound Recording] (YouTube).

Macan, T. H., Shahani, C., Dipboye, R. L., & Phillips, A. P. (1990). College students' time management: Correlations with academic performance and stress. Journal of Educational Psychology, 82(4), 760.

Misra, R., & McKean, M. (2000). College students' academic stress and its relation to their anxiety, time management, and leisure satisfaction. American Journal of Health Studies, 16(1), 41.
Pratas, A. C. (2014). Time Management Tips. [Sound Recording] (PowToon's).

Thahane, N. (2015). Skeem Saam star Natasha Thahane on Top Billing [Interview] (26 August 2015).