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How I Write and Learn

In this new blog series, “Ask a Coach!” our Writing and Learning Center coaches answer our UNC-CH undergrads’ burning questions! Check back every month to see what our coaches have to say about everything from taking breaks to utilizing office hours! 

What is the best way to plan my day?

Learning Coach Miranda stands with his thumbs up in a frame that says "Miranda: - Art Hist PhD Student Studies art...can't paint." The frame has a blue background with yellow and red dashesMiranda: I love creating a plan for my day, but we all plan differently (calendars vs. to-do lists). For myself, I love having a weekly calendar plan with all the times I need to be somewhere/what I am doing and a daily to-do list with the times I will start my tasks. This way, I get to check them off and feel like I accomplished something (I will also add things I did to see how much I really did at the end of the day). I think taking 15 to 30 mins once a week to set out a plan is really helpful (think, what do I have due, what do I need to do, what do I want to do). I then take 5 mins each morning to make my task list – that way, I never sit down and think, “what should I be doing” because I have already made that list. 


Learning Coach Yi-Hsuan stands with his thumbs up in a frame that says "Yi-Hsuan - Political Science PhD Student I LOVE Fries (even cold) " The frame has a blue background with yellow and red dashesYi-Hsuan: I only have limited energy to work and focus for a day, so I examine my tasks before scheduling them. I reserve my periods of best productivity for the most intellectually demanding work (reading for a challenging class, doing math homework, or writing an outline for my dissertation). For lighter work, I can do it when I have 30 minutes between two classes or when my mind is already winding down (studying for an easy quiz, sending an email, or reviewing notes). Also, I remember that breaks are what refills my energy and keeps me going. Instead of just leaving some time blank, I try to plan out some fun and restorative things I can do for breaks!


Learning Coach Aidan stands with his thumbs up in a frame that says "Aidan - Philosophy & Economics Plays the Mandolin" The frame has a blue background with yellow and red dashesAidan: I put all my recurring events and important dates (class schedule, final exams, concerts, etc.) in Google Calendar, and put all newly scheduled events (coffee with a friend, doctor’s appointment, etc.) in the same calendar. I do this second part when I schedule these things — if I wait until later, it’s unlikely to ever happen. As far as scheduling time to study, that’s where I tend to struggle, however I’ve found that I have to schedule my days ahead of time, either the night before or multiple days in advance. Scheduling a day on that day is invariably a disaster, because I’ve got too many obligations pulling at my attention to make time for scheduling. Instead I try to schedule a time to make a schedule, which ensures the scheduling gets done. Now all I have to do is follow my schedule. Easy, right? 


Learning Coach Michael stands with his thumbs up in a frame that says "Michael - School of Edu PhD student I've watched indoor skiing (in-person) while dining at a cheesecake factory” The frame has a blue background with yellow and red dashesMichael: I’m much more of a plan in my head kind of person. I typically try to plan out each chunk of my day as it appears. For instance, my days begin my job so I make a mental checklist of my daily goals that I want to accomplish during the morning on the car ride there.  Generally, I try to picture myself doing the activity later on. For instance, If I have reading to do and plan to go to the library, I’ll picture myself walking from my class to the library and pulling out the book I need.



This blog showcases the perspectives of UNC Chapel Hill community members learning and writing online. If you want to talk to a Writing and Learning Center coach about implementing strategies described in the blog, make an appointment with a writing coach, a peer tutor, or an academic coach today. Have an idea for a blog post about how you are learning and writing remotely? Contact us here.

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