Organizing your schedule to complete your daily tasks
February 10, 2012
While many students came back to school with New Year’s resolutions and a resolve to make this the best semester, three weeks of classes already prove difficult for most. With commitments and personal life to balance, many find it hard to resist falling back into old habits. However, armed with a planner and a little discipline, you can seize control of the semester by establishing a schedule.
To begin, find a planner that works for you. This often takes trial and error, but consider what you need: one that starts early in the morning and/or goes until late at night, one with a lot of room to write details in the time slots, or one with an area to make a to do list. Whether you buy one, print a template from online, design your own via Publisher/Excel, or just use a notebook, make sure you like it. But remember, if you despise schedules, a simple daily to-do list may suffice to remind you of meetings and homework assignments. Do what works for you.
Depending on your comfort level with planners and your purpose of using one, perform one or all of the following steps: first write in the non-negotiable commitments such as classes, meetings and work. Next, include the necessities like meals, exercising, showers, and sleeping. Once you know how much free time you have to work with, you can write in how you plan to use your time, such as hours for homework, socializing, relaxing and miscellaneous tasks. Be sure to give yourself a little extra time for each task so if an item takes longer than anticipated, you do not need to re-assess your whole schedule.
Once you have the week outline done, check that your priorities and goals are wellrepresented. Make sure that your schedule looks realistic and enjoyable. If you despise reading textbooks, blocking off a three hour time slot is unreasonable; do half hour segments with short breaks of browsing the internet or talking to a friend. But most importantly, remember to keep it simple; try color-coding, abbreviations, or more flexible time slots (“homework/video game” instead of specifying which task is every fifteen minutes). If looking at your planner is confusing or intimidating, you will not follow it, so make it work for you.
While it can be hard to follow a schedule (and inevitably you will miss some items), staying on and getting back on track mainly involves a little self-discipline and possibly a re-evaluation of your schedule. To start with, be firm with yourself and follow it—you put thought into your schedule, so you clearly had your best interests in mind when blocking off time for certain activities. If you feel tempted to deviate from your plans, consider the importance and urgency of the distracting task and question whether you will regret ignoring your schedule. Oftentimes, you will find merit in your schedule and follow it.
If you find yourself constantly disregarding your plans, re-evaluate and modify your schedule so you can enjoy it while being productive. This can involve anything from adding a half hour time to relax each time to changing your major so you (relatively) enjoy going to class and doing homework. Finally, refuse to resent your schedule; you form it, not bow to it. You choose how to spend your time; the schedule is merely a reminder of what you want to do.
By properly outlining each week and creating a personally effective schedule, you can become more organized and better with time management. Furthermore, with the completion of your tasks will come a feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction.
As long as your schedule fits your needs and you love it overall, you will succeed. You can make this your best semester.
Jaime Haines is an exuberant puppy-lover and “House” addict and plans to use her psychology degree to encourage activism and well-being through counseling, workshops, speeches, and the written word.