Study Central: Organizing Your Days


Melissa Schmitz, OPINION EDITOR

If any of you are avid readers of my column then you likely have seen an article or two about a daily scheduling/organizational system I use. I learned some new techniques as of late, so I wanted to share them with you. But first, I will introduce my organizational system to those of you who are reading this article in passing.

My daily organizational system consists of a daily worksheet I designed in Photoshop, but you don’t need anything fancy for this; a blank sheet of paper will suffice. Up at the top is a place to write the date, of course. Then I have several sections on the page. The first one is “Today’s Events”. Pretty self-explanatory, you write down the events you have going on that day. Next is “Upcoming Events”. Again, self-explanatory, but I think this part is crucial because it helps you get a sense of what’s forthcoming very soon, thus preventing any, “OMG! I forgot about that paper due tomorrow morning! Crap!” moments.

Then we get to the “Schedule” section. Now this section may not be quite as self-explanatory as the others. Its purpose is not for you to simply jot down your class schedule, but rather have you organize what you plan to do throughout the whole day. That will most definitely include your classes, but the point of it all is for you to plan on when you will study, your work shifts, eat meals, etc. [Yes, I literally write, “10:00-11:15 – Biochemistry” on there along with things like “6:00-6:30 – Dinner” and “2:00-5:00 – Read for physics”.] Why is this so crucial if you can just remember when your free time is? It’s crucial because many people, despite having a to-do list, freeze up and waste time doing nothing because they don’t know what to do first. In terms of scheduling the precise amount of time you will need for a task you could just estimate. I actually record the time it takes for me to complete various repeating assignments so I can get a better idea of how long to do those activities. The goal is to not waste time by allotting too much time to a certain activity while also making sure there’s enough time for the task to actually get finished.

If you don’t think wasting time is a big deal, perhaps consider this. According to Sean Cannel,  all the distracting and/or time wasting activities you do throughout the day [this includes getting interrupted by texts while you’re studying, checking emails or social media every 10 minutes, and wasting time doing absolutely nothing, among others] wastes 8 hours a day! That is a third of your entire day! If you ignore the time sleeping then that is half of your day! That’s a lot of time wasted, isn’t it?

Now that I have your attention, allow me to explain the remaining sections. There’s a to-do column and a notes column. The notes column is really just there so you can quickly jot things down instead of flipping through pages of your planner at the end of class in a rush [i.e. wasting time]. You can take care of those notes later. The to-do part seems pretty self-explanatory, as well, but I would like to offer a few suggestions. Of course you need to put as a priority the things that are due that day or the next, but what about all the other stuff? Write down a list of projects, or perhaps organize by subject, and list tasks beneath it in the order of importance. It’s good to write these things down, even if the due dates seem far off… because they’re probably not.

Depending on the amount of group projects you have or if you’re in a job where you need to rely on other people, this next tip may or may not be that helpful. But essentially you would make a section entitled “People”. Split it in half so one side is “Waiting On” and the other “Reach Out To”. Another self-explanatory thing, but list people you’re waiting on a response to, need to remind about something, or need to reach out to for help in the respective columns. If someone has not gotten back to you on something, move them to the “Reach Out To” section. This will not only help you remember what people owe you, but also help you remember what you owe others!

I hope these small organizational tips can help you get through the remainder of the semester.

Happy studying!