Understanding some of us have busier days than others, there are still some good practices to get in the habit of to help keep you organized, whether you are a student or otherwise.
Master Personal Calendar
First, keep at least one master personal calendar. There are plenty of online calendar options for your computer or phone. A paper one is fine too if that works better for you. The most important thing you need to do with the calendar is to be consistent with using it. If you’re not used to it, it may take a little time to get into the habit- but keep at it!
Here is what should be included in your master personal calendar:
· All scheduled obligations- such as Dr. appointments, rehearsals, meetings, social events, part time jobs (outside of your normal routine).
· All important dates to remember- such as Birthdays, anniversaries, vacation days, etc…
Here is an example of a simple master personal calendar. Notice that I started my week with Monday to more easily see my entire weekend.
It is not a good idea to clutter your master calendar, so you don’t need to include your day to day routine if it stays the same (i.e. you arrive and leave a job at generally the same time each day). You can keep a separate calendar for your work day.
If you are a middle or high school student and have a class schedule that generally is within the same time frame, you probably don’t need to include your classes in a calendar. Instead, keep a separate printed copy of your schedule with your notebooks, and maybe pin another one on your computer. (College students may want to include classes on a calendar since the classes tend to be at scattered days and times throughout the week.)
Work Day Calendars
Depending on where you are in your life, you may want to keep a separate work day calendar. (When you are ready, you will be able to merge both your personal and workday electronic calendars).
Here is a sample work day calendar. Notice I don’t show weekends (because working weekends is not part of the normal schedule). I also included personal appointments that would impact my work day (color coded in blue). Lastly, I made a reminder of an important report due date.
To- Do Lists
For your “working day” activities, it is often helpful to use a “to do” list. There are lots of online options for this also, but oftentimes a notebook or a pad of paper works best. Use two columns- one for things you need to get to but not immediately, and another for what you hope to accomplish today. Prioritize your lists, and cross things off when they are completed. Carry over the items you don’t complete to a clean page the next day. Again, consistency is key- nothing will work for you unless you use it.
Here is what should be included in your working day to do list:
· Long term projects
· A list of main things you want to accomplish “today”
Here are samples of a working day to-do lists:
If these lists aren't working for you, you may just have TOO MUCH ON YOUR PLATE. Consider what is realistic, and when you can SAY NO!
To Do Lists for Students
Most middle and high school students can access their homework online these days, however if a student is having trouble keeping organized, it is beneficial to have a hand-written list to refer to.
Here is a sample student to-do list. Notice that longer term assignment reminders are noted as well.
REMEMBER THAT NO CALENDAR OR TO-DO LIST WILL HELP YOU IF YOU DON’T LOOK AT IT! Refer to your lists often!! Make it a habit.