Gninnalp Sdrawkcab (or Backwards Planning)

By Kylie Lohmeyer


We’re about half way through the semester here at UNR, and as much as I’d like to say that I’ve successfully battled back and refused to let school work get the best of me, I can’t. I’ve always been one to attribute success in school to the amount of long nights spent in the KC and the copious amounts of coffee needed to stay awake during all-nighters. This is a bad idea—DON’T measure success by how long it takes you to complete a task!

If you’re anything like me, then you get distracted easily. And sitting on the second floor of the library certainly doesn’t help when you have a love for people watching. You need to refocus. A useful question to ask yourself in preparation for managing the assignments of every semester is “How am I going to make the most of my time?”

Yes, this deals with every procrastinator’s nightmare: planning. Planning is a skill, and it requires practice in order to master it. I love organizing, and I love the idea of planning. I am a colored pen fanatic, and if you take a look at my planner, it’s a rainbow of upcoming appointments and exams. However, even I struggle with sticking to my to-do lists.

The key to being a successful planner is knowing yourself—know where you stand with assignments and don’t be afraid to admit how long it truly takes you to complete a task. Once you know this, you will be able to engage in the art known as backwards planning. Sounds fancy, right? Little do you know, you have probably done this on multiple occasions.

Backwards planning is a method in which you begin at the end of your project and then plan backwards from there. It allows you to focus first and foremost on your end goal, and then you can create smaller sub-goals to help you actually get your assignments done.

Here’s the step by step “backwards plan” I use to help me stay organized:

  1. State your main purpose or assignment; for example, “I want to ace my physiology exam.”
  2. Where are you with your assignment? Focus on how much you’ve already accomplished; for example, “I finished reading chapter 1.”
  3. The fun part! Write out a schedule for yourself; for example, “I don’t have class on Friday, so I will study for anatomy from 2-5 pm.”
  4. Account for possible mistakes and write them down. We can’t always control our environment, and life isn’t always fair.
  5. Account for down time. You don’t have to study 24/7—it’s ok to have some fun! Accounting for this time will help you regain focus and get back on track; for example, “I planned to study for physiology on Fridays from 2-5 pm, but instead I am going to go to the movies this Friday.”
  6. Admire the beauty of the schedule you made, and try your best to stick to it!

Just remember that not every method works for everyone, and organization is really a personal preference.

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