Planning Part 1 – Principles

The activity of planning
Over-arching all of the competencies for managing learning time is the critical activity of planning. Planning consists of deciding what has to be done and working out how to achieve it.

Perhaps you have heard the saying:

“Failing to plan is planning to fail”

This captures the essence of why planning is so important. In the context of learning, planning creates a structure to enable us to effectively organise ourselves and our resources with a clear view of an end result.

In a learning environment, the end result might be the completion of a revision timetable, submission of a report, passing an exam, gaining a qualification or completing a course.

In study skills preparation is key to planning study:

  • Knowing the structure and objectives of your study will help you to focus on an outcome and to organise yourself as necessary
  • Knowing why you are undertaking the study is a key factor and it is this that will help you to keep motivated and on track
  • Investing time at the beginning of your studies in familiarising yourself the learning intervention is very valuable
  • Taking a planned approach is important because as we all know, work, family and social life will almost always take precedence over studying unless we make the effort to allow for sufficient study time

The purpose of planning
Planning allows us to track our progress and make sure we can deal with problems and challenges as they arise. A planned approach to learning helps achieve control over activities and events. 

When balancing a busy work life with the pressure of study, exams, lectures and so on, to be without a plan would probably be very chaotic.

There is no mystery to planning; it is often just the application of practical common sense. Time spent planning is time well spent, as it increases the likelihood of success and can be a way of helping to avoid or reduce stress.

Even if you have already begun studying or a learning activity, it is useful to go through a preparatory and planning process, as this will form the basis of your ongoing learning activities.

To end this section, we recommend you take time to speak to colleagues and friends to find out what planning and time management activities they use for learning and what works best for them.

Anything you can learn from the experiences of others is highly valuable when considering formulating your own plans for learning.