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  • Writer's pictureTori Cliff

Deadline city: how to organize your time for college success

Welcome to the deadline zone. You'll need to embrace the idea of always having a deadline staring you down. As a matter of fact, the phrase 'I'm on deadline' became a regular response I gave to most friends' and family's question, "So, what are you up to?"

That's okay, because it won't last forever. It didn't for me, and it won't for you. Several years of diligence (let's hope only four), then graduation, and a new life. This is in exchange for the prospect of working in a field you enjoy with solid earning potential. Small sacrifice compared to its alternative.

So how do you stay organized, not miss deadlines, and not go crazy in the mean time? Off we go, darling.

First, grab a planner you like.

I recommend one with a page that displays an entire month at a time, followed by day-by-day pages that allow for ample writing. I adore these planners I found on Amazon from Blue Sky. Spiral bound is awesome so you can easily write on either page without a wrestling match. Now, grab a pencil.

So, what are we working with? Get your syllabi (yes all of them) and go through your new, trusty, beloved planner, and write in all of the deadlines (tests, due dates, etc.) Write these deadlines on the monthly pages, and the individual day-by-day pages.

Some people find making a master spreadsheet in Excel or Google Sheets that lists all deadlines in order of occurrence for all of their classes each semester helpful, too. You may choose to add that step in and try it in addition to having a planner.

The planner helps you stay organized, but it does far more. It helps guard your one non-renewable resource—time.

Next, go through your planner and write in your work schedule, blocking off that time. You might also add other important items like doctor's appointments, attending your child’s play, exercise, attending church or other things that you deem vital. Feel like there's not time for everything. Brace yourself--there's not. Read my post on surviving seasons that require high output,

Now, write in class time and study time, blocking it off, based on the time not already taken up. Even if your class is online and doesn’t meet real-time, you’ll need to set aside 2-3 hours per class a week for “class time.” Just because it’s an online class, doesn’t mean you don’t need time to go through class materials each week. Ohmagosh, ya will.

About study time—on average, about 3 hours a week/per class is required for study and homework. Keep class time and study time appointments as non-negotiable. You wouldn’t miss an appointment with your doctor flippantly; don’t do it with these appointments either. Not here to play games, right? Here to grow and graduate, and that takes time, effort and sacrifice.

Don't neglect digital support:

Now that your planner is all sorted out, add alerts into your phone as a back up to your physical planner for deadlines and study time. Reminders are a small accountability system that can really pay off. Check your calendar before accepting invitations for coffee or lunch. Can you afford the time now? Maybe, but if not, ask to meet another time that is free on your calendar in the future.

How do you use organization strategies to churn out your best and avoid burnout?

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