Hey SAIT students,

Welcome to the second Learning From Home 101 blog post (the very first one was Setting Yourself Up For A Successful Start)! In this post, we’ve written about our favourite time management tool: backwards planning.


What is backwards planning?

Backwards planning is a time management tool that forces you to think ahead in order to manage/organize your time as realistically, and therefore as accurately, as possible.







What tools do I need for backwards planning?

To start backwards planning you’ll need:

+ a calendar (preferably printed out, but online works too),

+ your course outlines (those documents that are going to list all of your assignments/tests/etc., as well as the details of their percentage weight on your grade, due dates, and more),

+ colourful pencils/pens/markers/highlighters (if you’re backwards planning on paper).




What’s the first step to backwards planning?

The first step to backwards planning is to input into your calendar the various course assignments/tests/etc. you have due, as well as their percentage weight on your grade. It’s good to include their percentage weight on your grade as often, multiple things are due/happening in the same week. And if you, for example, only have 6 hours that week to study, it doesn’t make sense to spend 3 hours studying for a quiz in 1 class that’s worth 5%, and 3 hours for a midterm in another class that’s worth 25%. Including the percentage weight on your grade allows for you to better prioritize.




And then what?

Next, add into your calendar your other scheduled activities – regardless of how small or big they might be. When you don’t include your personal plans into your academic planning, it’s incredibly easy to misjudge or totally forget how much time you actually have.




Is that it? Because this is what my calendar looks like already…

This final step is what puts the “backwards” in “backwards planning”. From when your assignments/tests/etc. are due, draw a line back to the date when you think you’d need to start working/studying for them. When doing this, take into consideration: their percentage weight on your grade, your personal plans in which you’re not going to be working/studying, how much time you’ve taken in the past to complete similar tasks, and even how excited/not excited you are to get started (because you’re going to take longer to complete things you’re not looking forward to doing).




Are there any extra steps I can take?

Extra steps you can take in order to better ensure your success in backwards planning are 1) add an extra day to how long you think you’re going to take to complete a task. Life happens – we all get last minute invites to things we really want to go to, and we all experience difficult mental health days in which we accomplish absolutely nothing. By giving yourself that one extra day, you’re going to be less stressed and thrown off if and when something does come up and get in the way. 2) Add detail to the lines you added in the previous step. For example, if you’ve drawn a 5-day line back from a quiz, specify what’s happening in those 5 days (e.g. Day #1: Review Topic A, Day #2: Review Topic B, etc).