Organization Strategies for Students

Santa Fe Community College has a page chock-full of good information for students trying to manage their time as well as possible. The entire page merits a close reading, but I especially like the section on making to-do lists, a little step that can have huge payoffs in productivity, if taken seriously.

  1. Review your To-Do lists from the previous week and cross off those items which you completed. Briefly study the items which you did not complete and decide whether you want to rewrite them for some other week or eliminate them altogether. For items you know are important but you can not get to this week is to just turn over a few pages and write them several weeks ahead. As you cross off the incomplete items do it with a different type of marker so that you can later tell the items that were done from those that were not. Focus on your positive accomplishments by asking yourself whether you are completing the items with the highest priorities first. If so by putting off the less important items you could think of yourself as using good time management not procrastinating.
  2. Review obvious and externally imposed To-Dos such as assignments and projects your course syllabi.
  3. Before you begin your activities each week, you should sit down and list all of the tasks you need to get done during the week. If your schedule is tight you may want to assign tasks to given days of the week. If assigning tasks to given days refer to your master or weekly schedule. To plan ahead for large tasks be sure to check your monthly calendar. On bigger projects try doing small steps regularly each week.
  4. Prioritize each item on your list in order of importance and according to deadlines by applying the following “test.” Is this something I must get done, should get done, or could complete? Assign each task to a category according to its priority, using a 1, 2, 3 system, an A, B, C arrangement; or (M)ust, (S)hould, (C)ould. If you anticipate a very hectic day ahead you may even want to assign times to the “l’s”, “A’s”, or M’s.
  5. Carry your To-Do list with you during the day and refer to it when needed to make sure that you at least complete your “l’s” or “M’s” during the course of the day. Try to complete tasks with a minimum of interruptions.
  6. At the end of each day review your list . Then reward yourself for tasks completed on schedule and make any adjustments needed during the rest of the week.
  7. At the end of the week you should make time to reflect on how you have been feeling during the past week and how you feel about yourself in relation to your personal values, goals, and objectives. End the week with a positive feeling so you can begin the next week with zest.

The rest of the page includes pointers on organizing your work area, studying effectively, reviewing for exams, planning a research paper , and a lot more.

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