Cushion | HowToStudyInCollege

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​What is the Cushion?

The Cushion Graph In Shovel Study Planner

The Cushion is the extra study time you have (or don’t have) to complete each task.

How is the Cushion calculated?

The Cushion Calculation

The Cushion is calculated by looking at all of your available study time between when a task is due and when you want to start working on the task. And then subtracting the time needed for that task and for other tasks that you need to get done beforehand. In short: Time Available – Time Needed = The Cushion time for each task. 


Let’s say today is Monday and you have a reading task due on Friday. When you created the task you set that you wanted to get started 3 days ahead. Which means Tuesday. You also have another task due on Thursday.

Shovel looks at the total amount of available study time between Tuesday (3 days ahead) to when the task is due on Friday. It subtracts the time you need for the Thursday task and the time you need for the Friday task. The balance (positive or negative) is your cushion.

Here is the example with numbers:

Total Study Time between Tuesday and Friday’s deadline: 14 hours
Task due on Thursday: 5 hours needed
Task due on Friday: 2 hours needed
Cushion is 14 – (5+2) = 7 hours of study time you can waste before the Friday task

And here is where the Cushion time shows in the Pile for each task.

Maximize Study Time With Shovel

Shovel calculates the Cushion for each task continuously in real-time. If you put all your tasks from all your classes into Shovel at the beginning of the semester, the Cushion will look months ahead so you will always know if you have time to get everything done.

The Cushion Graph

Cushion Graph in Shovel with description

Each point on the graph represents a specific task that is due. You can hover each point to view the task or click on the point to open up task details where you can make changes.

Each point on the Cushion Graph will have a color depending on how much extra time is available:

Green: You have more time than you need.
Yellow: You are starting to run out of extra study time.
Red: You don’t have enough time to get the task done. you should adjust your schedule.

Set when Cushion turns yellow

Set When Cushion Turns Yellow

In the sidebar on the Cushion page, you can set when a task turns yellow as a warning to let you know you can’t waste much more time. 

You set it as a percentage of the time you need for a task.

For example: If you need 10 hours for writing a paper and your yellow warning is set to 40%, the paper’s Cushion will turn yellow when you have 4 extra hours of study time.

We did it this way, instead of a fixed value (for example 2 hours) because 2 hours may not be much of a Cushion for a 20-hour task, but it is plenty for a 30 minute assignment.

Adjust this percentage based on preference, but keep it high enough to get a warning.