8 Tips to Get Your Schedule Under Control

By Robert Massey, YYCCM Team Member

As the semester swings into full gear, assignments get handed out, and events start pilling on top of one another, it can feel hard to fit it all in. And it may not be possible. But, if you stop and take some time to plan you may just realize you have more time than you thought to finish that assignment, take up a new hobby, or binge your favourite show.  

So here are 8 ideas to help you get your semester under control and have more time to do what you love.

Schedule Everything

If you have a lot going on, setting aside specific time to do a task or complete a project is very important. And not just saying, I’ll get to that this afternoon, but going into your calendar and setting aside a couple of hours at a specific time.

Here’s one way of doing that. Every Sunday, sit down with your calendar (whether that’s a physical calendar on the wall or the one in your phone or both) and look at what you have due soon, what you are doing that week, what meetings you have, and what fun things you want to get up to. And then set aside time for each task during the week.

The psychology behind doing this is pretty evident. One, it helps you recognize what you have going on and what may be sipping through the cracks allowing you to keep on top of tasks and projects. Two, it allows you to stay focused during your set work periods, especially if you know you have something fun coming up after you have finished your study time or project work time. This will make you more productive during those times and less likely to stray off task. Three, it allows you to have fun when you aren’t working or studying. Too often we hear students complain about their lack of time, or how much work they have to do, and how they should stop talking and go study (I’m sure we’ve all done this). But this means that they are thinking about work or their project, allowing that task to take up more time and space in their lives and not focusing on the person in front of them or the enjoyable thing they are doing. It is taking away from their time to enjoy life.

Mute your Notifications

Those little bubbles that come up everywhere - on your phone, on the corner of your computer screen, in tabs on your browser - they are one of the single biggest distractions in life. And they drag your focus away from the task at hand. When you really want to buckle down and focus on something, mute everything! Nearly every notification we receive (unless you're in emergency services) can wait the half hour until you take your break.

It’s a Distraction Based Economy

In the same vein as muting your notifications, getting rid of distractions is important as well. The world we live in today strives to make money off your attention. It is a distraction-based economy. The more time that companies can get you to spend looking at your phone, scrolling feeds, looking at notifications, the better for their bottom line. And those little notifications that come up constantly are their way of subtly reminding you to go and check your feeds, see what your friends are doing, take just a few minutes of your time to do something they want you to do. Where is the harm in taking five minutes to do that? Except normally that five minutes turns into 20 or 30 and changes your mental focus from one of work to one of relaxation and it is hard to get back into ‘go mode’ again. Don’t let companies distract you from what needs to be done.

Close Netflix (or Stop Multitasking)

Multitasking seems like a good idea because you can pretend that you’re working twice as hard. After all, you’re doing two things at once! But, multitasking doesn’t lead to better work, it leads to the same work taking four times longer than if you just worked on one thing at a time. This is especially true if you are attempting to watch a tv show while working on a project. So close the Netflix tabs, your work and marks will thank you for it.

Use one Notebook for Each Class

If you’re like me and learn things better by writing them down (or the class doesn’t jive while with taking computer-driven notes), then this one should help you. Keep a different notebook for each class. This will do a couple of things for your time management. Taking out a specific notebook that ties into a certain class can help signal to your brain that it is time to think about chemistry, art history, the music of AC/DC or whatever class you are sitting in. This will help you to focus on that subject matter and recall information faster, which will make getting things done faster. It will also help keep you far more organized, and when you are looking for that specific note will prevent you from scrolling through hundreds of other classes and pages of information.

Break Down Big Tasks into Smaller Tasks

Sitting and thinking about a 20-page research paper on Handle’s Messiah can be a daunting task (even for those who enjoy Handle’s music). It can seem overwhelming before you even begin, making it more likely you will procrastinate doing it. Instead of thinking about it as one big project, think about it as a list of smaller, easy to accomplish tasks that will lead to accomplishing your bigger goal.

Try Bullet Journaling

People all over the world swear by this method of organization. It may work for you, so check out the idea behind it.

https://bulletjournal.com/

Learn to Say No

Sometimes the simplest thing you can do for your time management is simply to say no every once in a while. This can be hard to do when you have demands coming on you from every side, but it could be the most healthy thing you do for your self. Say no to tasks that you don’t have time for, that you know are going to take up large amounts of time, or are simply things you don’t want to do (and that you don’t have to do, because there are lots of things in work that I don’t want to do but have to do).

So, where you can say no. Be respectful to yourself, your time, and your mental health. Leave yourself some space to breathe.