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Task Lists

It can be difficult to manage your time wisely if you don’t know what tasks need to be done. Writing out all the tasks you must complete is one way to make yourself aware of the work that needs to be done. You will be less likely to forget small tasks and, having a realistic idea of the time you have available to finish, will help eliminate procrastination.

List out your tasks

  • Review your course outline to identify all the tasks you will need to complete, and write out a list.
  • This list should include all your study tasks. This may involve large assignments, weekly homework and textbook readings.
  • You may choose to organize these tasks into three columns: one for weekly tasks, one for large or long-term assignments, and one for exam preparation.

Estimate completion time

  • For each task that you have listed, estimate how long it will take you to complete.
  • Create a chart that includes: a column that lists the title of the assignment, a column that lists the due dates, and a column that lists your time estimates.
  • Estimating may be difficult at first, but with practice, it will become easier to estimate. Major assignments can be broken down into smaller tasks in order to make estimation easier. (For example, a final research paper can be broken down into several small tasks: choosing your topic, researching, brainstorming and creating an outline, writing the rough draft, editing the rough draft, etc.)
  • Try to estimate the time required for each step. It may help to think back to past assignments and how long they took you to complete.
  • Add together your estimates to find the total amount of time your tasks will take to complete.
  • Add another fifty percent to your total, to allow time for unforeseen circumstances, like an illness.
  • Divide your new total by the number of weeks you have left to complete the assignment.
  • The result is the number of hours you must spend working on your assignment each week. For example, 20 hours divided by 5 weeks = 4 hours of work per week.

Organize and complete a plan

  • Now that you know what has to be done and how long it will take, you can plan how and when you will tackle your task list. Using an agenda or calendar will make this easier.
  • Organize your list by priority. Decide which items are most important and reorder your list by rank.
  • How you decide importance is up to you. Some good ways to decide priority are based on urgency, marks, or the importance of the class.
  • Allow at least one day between the assignment due date and the day you plan to finish it. This space will be helpful if you encounter any problems, need extra help, or simply did not schedule enough time.
  • You may wish to set aside some extra work time each week. That way, if you underestimated the length of an assignment, or encounter other problems, you already have extra time built into your schedule. If you don’t end up needing this extra day, then you now have free time to relax!

Download the Assignment Task List table below to help you with your task planning.

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