The biggest issue for beginner schedulers, at least it seems to me, is committment. They start a day planner, but forget to write in it. They try to utilize a calendar, but never refer to it. They sketch a schedule, but end up procrastinating. They want to get organized, but they have trouble sticking with it.
The most sure-fire way for college students trying to better manage their time to stay on schedule is to start slow and start easy. Don’t rush into it. Don’t try to do too much at once. Don’t jump into the ocean of scheduling before you test the temperature with your toes. Mastering the easy stuff will make transitioning into the more technical seamless. It will also assure that you stick with scheduling.
So where do you start? As I posted last week, lists are a great springboard. Lists help you get all of your ideas down, they help you remember everything, they help you get organized. But lists can’t do it all. They are not a map of your week. They won’t set you up to get everything done on time. They are not the best way to stay on schedule, but they are the best place to start.
So, master the list. Practice making them, practice referring to them, practice making them more and more focused. From here, you can turn your lists into schedules. Sit down with a piece of paper and your empty day planner:
- Write a list of all the things you need to get done in the week. This should come naturally, once you get the hang of list-making.
- Include due dates and use them to prioritize your to-do list items.
- Next to each list item put an estimation of how long you think the task will take. This can be the toughest part of scheduling, so think about it. Overestimate. And, don’t get discouraged if it takes some practice to get it right.
- Now, look over at your day planner. Fill in you recurring tasks, like when you have class or when you work. Block these times off.
- From here, add the tasks from your to do list into the free spaces in your day planner. Use a pencil. Move them around. Think of it as a puzzle, and try to fit things together in the best way.
- Look over your schedule to see if any individual day looks too busy. If any day is too packed, try to re-distribute to even things out.
Using a day planner can be tough when you first start out. Keep in mind that it can be an awesome and helpful tool, especially when things get busier. Start with lists and start small. Then – during a not so busy time like the summer – practice making schedules. This will ensure that as things get busier you will have the skills to handle all the craziness that accompanies a tight schedule. Stick with it! Click here and here for your two minutes of procrastination.