Typically a schedule creation session takes about an hour, so I like to set time aside Sunday evening to plan before the week begins.
I know an hour of planning sounds like a lot - you could be doing other things with that time - but the productivity benefit of creating your schedule far outweighs the cost of creation.
Furthermore, schedule creation is actually quite therapeutic.
You'd be surprised how much you keep in your head - once those to-dos are listed out on paper and scheduled, you'll have a battle plan. It helps you feel less overwhelmed and more in control of your future.
Getting everything out of your head is the first step.
1. Brain Dump
I like to start with a 'brain dump.' I use a notepad, either on your computer or a physical journal, to write down everything I have to do that week.
The goal here is getting everything out of your brain and written down so you can visualize everything and find time for it.
I like to use different categories too, like school, work, personal, and social life.
Class, studying, going to the library, etc. fall under the school category; meditation, reading, and exercise go under personal, etc. Don't be afraid to write down the things you want to do that aren't incredibly productive.
It's better to schedule a time for video games, friends, etc. than to force yourself to be productive all the time, only to fail because that's impossible.
Write down everything that comes to mind, big or small. You want everything out of your head and ideally, categorized into their own groups.
2. Estimate Time
With your list of action items out of your head and on paper, you might be feeling a bit overwhelmed upon realizing how many things are on your plate. Don't worry, soon you'll have everything squared away.
Look at each item on the list, and write down how much time it'll take you.
Some things like classes are easy to estimate, as they have a fixed time and you know how long it'll take to go to and from the class.
Other activities aren't so easy to estimate, like working on homework, a project, or studying.
Estimate how long it'll take you to complete the task, and then add an hour (people tend to underestimate how much time/energy any given task will take).
3. Schedule Your Rocks
Now that you're actually scheduling time, I recommend using an app like Google Calendar. It's free and syncs with your phone so you'll get push notification reminders of upcoming events.
The most important activities you have to get done - and will most likely take up the most time - are your rocks.
These are non-negotiable, make, or break items. Take some time to review your big picture goals, and make sure your main rock activities align with those goals.
As a college student, your rocks are probably classes, study sessions, clubs/fraternity events, etc.
Study those activities first throughout your week - then you can schedule the rest of your activities around your rocks.
When I was in college, I scheduled my classes throughout the week, time to work on my affiliate website, along with study sessions and mandatory events for clubs.
Those were the most important tasks that had to be completed.
With those scheduled, you can move on to the secondary activities.
4. Fill In The Cracks
With your main activities out of the way, you can schedule a time for the rest. Time for reading, hitting the gym, doing laundry, cleaning your car, meditating, and seeing friends are all things to include here.
I recommend leaving some gaps between activities as well - you'll probably want some downtime in between, not to mention the fact that life is unpredictable and you should plan accordingly.
Having every single second of your day blocked off is unrealistic, but walking through life blindfolded, without a plan, is an equally bad (if not worse) idea.
5. Review & Revise Schedule Nightly
Making a schedule for the week ahead on Sunday is great, but as I said above, life throws you curveballs, and odds are you'll accomplish more - or less - than you thought you would on any given day.
Creating a weekly schedule is a great way to project your action plan, but it's also useful to take 5-10 minutes a night to revise your schedule and make adjustments where necessary.
Look at what you finished and what you didn't get around to, and update the schedule for the next day based on those insights.
This way, you not only have a high level plan for your week, but also a granular look at your day to day schedule.
Revising your schedule nightly will help you optimize your week and productivity.