September 11, 2012

Of Calendars & Planners

So, after one week of classes it should be dawning on you that there are a lot of things to remember - exams, papers, projects, homework - for four or five or six classes. And unlike high school, where you got daily reminders from teachers (and parents), now it's on you to keep track of it all. You may find yourself asking “How do I prioritize when every class/assignment is a priority?!”

The other big change that requires you to step-up your organization game is that the pace of a semester is completely different than marking periods. This change may not be obvious now, but often rears its head around mid-terms. Think about it: a semester is 15 week long, so in a class whose grade is primarily based on one midterm and one final, you may not know how you’re doing until you’ve been in class for 7 weeks – almost half the class! If you fall behind, you risk not catching up!

This is a good time to consider how you organize your time and efforts. We here at the SASfroshblog will endorse pretty much any organizational system that doesn't involve making notes on gum wrappers or grocery receipts - BUT everyone needs a system. In other words, we want to encourage you to find a way to get organized that you can work...not necessarily the one that works for your roommate, or the planner that you bought because it had puppies on the cover. We’re talking about life management techniques that you can sustain and adhere to for more than a few weeks. Here are some suggestions of useful tools:

1.  Smartphone - Use the calendar function on your phone. Or download an organizer App. The phone is also useful for setting reminders of weekly events like online homework submission.
      Works well for: those who have trouble breathing if they haven't checked their phone in, like, 10 minutes

2.  Paper planner book – Pick up a daily or weekly planner at the bookstore and carry it everywhere, recording all of your important dates. The bonus here is that a planner gives you a reason to buy pens in different, cool colors.
Works well for: those who love paper and pen and physically turning pages (see also: Luddites, technophobes)

  3.  Desk blotter calendar pages – This big calendar is great for the long view; at a glance, you can see a full month's assignments, which is useful for effectively planning time and balancing classes. Plus, assignments don't sneak up on you like they can if you haven't flipped the page to next week. This option also comes in a handy dry-erase version for those of you who are conservationists at heart.
      [One particularly creative student used duct tape and color-coded post-it notes to create her own calendar on the wall of her room.]
Works well for: those who like a broad overview, and who have wall space to accommodate three months of pages (and a tolerant roommate)

Again, we don't care HOW you organize yourself, but find something that works for you - and START NOW!

Some web resources:
Ru-tv segement on Time Management
10 Steps to Organization at College