It has often been said that the key to being a top student is organization. Most of the time, this statement rings true. The best students often hold themselves to rigorous schedules, sometimes detailed down to the half an hour with the day’s scholarly activities, from revising notes to completing a certain portion of an assignment, to maybe even a set bedtime. From afar, this seemingly Herculean task of being impeccably disciplined and put together is enviable and no doubt impressive.
But you, fellow time managing miscreant, know full well the struggles of carefully plotting out a schedule or list of tasks to accomplish in a single day, failing miserably whether as a result of unexpected events that arise and bungle your plans or a self-inflicted bout of procrastination throws a wrench in an hour (or three)’s worth of supposed productivity. All at once, everything falls out of sync and you resort to deleting your schedule altogether or else shunting off every plan you laid out for one day to the next and on and on it goes. How does one overcome the hurdles of daily surprises and stresses in the pursuit of a better, more efficient academic life?
For newcomers or beginners to creating a personal timetable, it is best not to detail your activities to the exact minute. In fact, time may not have to factor in just yet. The first order of business is simply to create a to-do list of the things that need to be done in the near future. Admittedly, you will need to plan a few days ahead — writing out a to-do list for a number of assignments due the very next day is a terrible decision, so as a general first rule, always prepare your schedules ahead of time. Once you’ve finished creating your to-do list, give yourself one day to finish a particular set of tasks. Take as many hours as you need to complete one or another, just ensure that everything has been accomplished by the end of the day.
You will soon discover the necessity of having a time limit if you floundered around trying to complete every objective on your to-do list before the day was done, unsure of how much time should be spent on each task. At this point, you might want to begin setting aside an hour or two to finish each task. It helps to spread your work out over the course of several days so an hour or even less every day should suffice when striving to achieve a larger goal such as studying for a test or working towards an important assignment. When this formula is followed across multiple assignments, there will be time enough in a single day to work on all of them.
If your mind has a tendency to wander or if you are prone to procrastination, it is useful to schedule your leisure time as well as your working hours. This way, it is much easier to limit the time you spend on social media or tagging your friends in memes instead of allowing it to drag on for an indiscriminate amount of time. However, even if you set yourself limits on your free time, discipline still remains key. Once that time is up, make work your main focus.
What if something goes wrong? Delays, slip-ups, and unforeseen twists and turns are posed to happen at any time. Maybe you were sick, arrived home later than expected, or lost track of time as the one episode of that TV show snowballed into binge-watching the entire season. While you should hold yourself accountable for any mistakes of your own making, if you’ve planned far enough ahead, you should be able to reshuffle the order of some tasks or leave them for the next day.