During my freshman and sophomore years in university, I was able to develop a clean and constructed style of organization that would later benefit me for the remainder of my academic semesters as a student. Now, as a junior, I wish to share my methods of schedule planning and time management to any Rutgers University students who feel that they need some direction or advice. Not only will being organized help your day run more smoothly, but it will also release any anxiety or tension if you are taking an especially difficult course load or experiencing a busy lifestyle in general.
Below, I have composed a list of three main thoughts on how to effectively prioritize and plan in university (and still be successful outside of university as well). I guarantee you that being organized and prepared in in all spheres of life will only benefit you in every goal you wish to achieve.
- Invest in a blank-paper journal or gridded planner. Keep a designated pen or pencil attached to its binding or cover. Use this journal to pre-plan each day. Every night before bed or every morning before I drive, I always write down my most important priorities for the day in a small blank-paper journal. When I write down my priorities, I schedule them by time and location. For example, I may write down that at 12:00 P.M. after a specific class ends, that I must continue to work on an essay in the library located on College Ave. I may write down as a reminder, that at 7:00 P.M., I should begin heading back to my car in the lot before dark.
Although it is very tempting to use your cell phone or device to keep a schedule, I find that it is more effective to keep a schedule or calendar written on paper. The journal of your choosing will not run out of battery, asked to be charged, or begin to vibrate with distracting text messages and phone calls from friends. Nothing should cause delay on accomplishing the priorities of your day unless it is a true emergency. Keep your electronic devices as companions for leisure and truly try in investing in an affordable journal that can either slip in your shoulder bag or backpack at all times.
By having a paper journal containing all major and minor goals written down inside (in a time-forward bulleted order), your memory will improve and your forgetfulness will decrease. Say goodbye to the mornings you have woken up and realized that a response paper was due by the afternoon. By using a paper journal, you can efficiently check off or cross out the priority that you have accomplished. Afterwards, you can begin looking at next task that needs completion.
- Keep a section in your journal or planner that is designated for fun work-free/school-free activities outside of your academic life. This way, there is always a calm reminder that not everything has to be taken too seriously, especially moments to look forward to. It is too easy to become lost in stress as coursework becomes more progressively difficult as the semester rolls on. It is crucial for your mental and physical health to leave your dorm or apartment, leave the libraries, and go outside and explore. In a blank area in my journal, I usually jot down places to travel in my free time outside of courses and obligations. Fortunately for us, New Jersey has a variety of places to adventure and discover. Asbury Park is the shore’s home to the Stone Pony, holding concerts with local bands and national artists; wooded nature preserves and beautiful hiking trails run up and down North and South Jersey; Rutgers University holds its own special events on weekends that can surely accommodate on-campus students’ free time. Write these ideas for fun down in your planner and be sure to take the time to rest your mind, leaving worrisome or nagging thoughts behind as you go.
- When it comes to your electronic device(s), utilize the Alarm and Reminders apps. whenever you personally know you will need it. Sometimes, it’s a reminder to get up early for a rescheduled class or pay your credit card online within the next days. Whatever the case may be, use your device to help you keep on track while you balance school, work, or other obligations that you set forth as most important. It took me quite some time until I realized the technological gem that is the Alarm and Reminders systems integrated within my cell phone. I owe all the credit and gratitude to my alarm for waking me up for the terribly early morning classes that most students dread. I owe the remembrance to my bulleted Reminders application that beeps or rings when it is time to send out an email, meet an appointment, or get ready for bed. In all of life’s events, academic or personal or work-related, this system (if applicable to any electronic device you may own) is helpful to make use of if available. Become accustomed to waking up to the specific sound of an alarm or being reminded of a small but necessary task by Reminders.
Creating a habit out of organization creates a promising peace of mind. Once you establish what is key in your priorities, and begin to work with this establishment, life becomes less shaky and stress-filled. You feel more grounded as you actively plan day-by-day and pursue each goal one-by-one. As important as priorities are, do not forget to recall my second point: work-free/school-free activities are also worthy of being written down and integrated into your life. Picking up hobbies and continuing personal passions is central to your general health as a happy human being! At the end of each day, everlasting happiness is the life mission that overrides all the other temporary worries in life. So until next time, when I may potentially explore that avenue of thought, begin thinking more profoundly about organization and time management in your own life. You can create a personal pattern in your life with the tools that I have suggested above, and by doing so, you’ll find that your busy schedule or current change in pace will be more graceful to handle than before.