Getting Things Done for College Students

In college organization can be key.  It is crucial to keep deadlines straight or you can miss assignments.  There are so many of these tasks to keep track of that it is impossible to keep all of these things straight in your head without a system.  While college students don’t necessarily need to go crazy with time management, it is really important to find a system that is flexible and works for you.  Newport offers a condensed version of a system he thinks could work for many students which can be found at his post here http://calnewport.com/blog/2008/10/06/monday-master-class-getting-things-done-for-college-studentsmade-easy/

Organization does not come naturally to me as a student at all.  In high school, I really didn’t keep track of things and just tried to remember my commitments.  It is no surprise that I often missed assignments and just forgot about things quite regularly.  When one gets to college, this type of disorganization really catches up to you.  In high school, if you missed a deadline you could often turn it in late.  In some college classes, there are absolutely no exceptions for late work.  In my Audit class, a girl was 5 minutes late to class the day the project was due and she got a zero.  The professors reasoning was that she always could of turned it in early.  That may be on the extreme end of the spectrum but the point is that excuses don’t cut it so you really have to be on top of deadlines or you could really suffer in regards to your grades.

Newport’s system proposed in this article has 5 steps.  The first is “collect” which involves capturing all of the obligations that come into your life.  I think the key here is to make this as painless as possible.  Thinking about time management is stressful so if the process for collecting this info is a pain you are more likely to give up on your system.  Next you have to consolidate these collected obligations into your calendar at least once a day.  Then before the start of each week you should review your calendar to kind of get a big picture view where you stand.  Then, plan out when you will do what.  Each day you will likely have to create a daily schedule and adapt it to things coming up.  This is the act stage where you take that plan and actually implement it on a daily basis.

One crucial factor is to not just make a to do list but to each day block off a realistic time chunk where you think you can achieve each thing you need to do that day.  Try to get as much of your work done before dinner because your productivity really suffers the later it gets.  Plus there are always fun things to do at night in college.

This really sums up the system and when I have stuck to it I have largely been more productive then when I fall off the wagon.  By trying to be honest with how long things take, you won’t try to do too much each day and end up prioritizing things more effectively.  Time management can make the difference between  being a good college student and being a great college student.

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