The 5 step plan

Activity time: 20 Minutes

Types of media: Handout/s, Webpage, Helpsheet


Unknown Author (Unknown Institution)


This resource for students details five key steps for taking control of your workload. This includes listing tasks to complete, breaking down big tasks into smaller steps, organising tasks under headings ('now', 'sooner' or 'later), taking one task at a time as well as prioritising and planning tasks.


Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 3.0

(This resource can be freely repurposed and reused)



Date Modified

Date Added

This information/resource was last updated in June 2021.

This post was originally added to LearnHigher on: December 30, 2011

About this resource

Need a quick fix to get your time under control?

…Trying to juggle lots of different commitments…?

…All your deadlines coming up at once…?

…It’s not surprising if you feel overwhelmed.

If it feels like your time is out of control and you don’t know how to get it all done, try this quick plan to get back on top of things…

1. List everything you need to do

Being reminded of how much you have to do may feel like the last thing you
want. But while you don’t have a proper idea of what you need to do, it’ll carry
on feeling overwhelming. Listing it is the first step in taking control.

2. Break down big tasks into smaller steps

Tasks always feel less overwhelming if you tackle them one step at a time.
Rather than “write essay – start Friday”, try thinking “write 350 words for
essay introduction – finish Friday”

3. Organise under three headings – now, soon and later

Be realistic about what needs doing now – assignment deadlines are the
priority, background reading can probably wait till later. Some of the things
under the ‘later’ heading may turn out to be things you don’t need to do after

4. Do something from the ‘now’ list immediately and tick it off the list

Getting one thing done will help you feel calmer. If you have a deadline
coming up, start to get that piece of work out of the first, even (perhaps
especially) if it’s the one thing you’ve been avoiding. If you’re stuck because
you don’t understand something, go back to basics and build up from there – or
ask for help.

5. Now put the other tasks in priority order and make a plan to tackle them

Fit what you have to do into the time you have to do it in. We could always
do a better job with more time, but you’re not expected to achieve perfection.
Don’t forget that deadlines and word counts are there to set the scope of your
work – you’re not expected to do more.


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