Updated: Nov 16, 2019
“I will actually hit the gym tonight, I swear,” I tell my roommates for the 5th time that week. “It’s fine, I’ll just do laundry after I finish this report.” ***another night of staying up until 3AM because I tried cramming*** ***another day of worrying if I have enough time to finish my work...***
As a chronic procrastinator with an overwhelming Google Calendar that scares everyone I show it to, I was tired of feeling overwhelmed and behind all the time. I feel like I am always doing something, yet why do I constantly feel unprepared and that I am putting things off? I was OVER it. I wanted to be able to finish my work while still getting decent amounts of sleep and not feel guilty about not doing my tasks every. single. free. second.
So….. I have been altering the way I approach my work. My new approach has helped me get stuff done much earlier so I can actually get adequate sleep, go to yoga, and head to work without worrying too much about school.
Add EVERYTHING (gym classes, lectures, labs, meetings, appointments) to your calendar.
As a college student, I know our planner is much more full and probably more complex than those cutesy Pinterest layouts. For my Google Calendar, I color code repeating events (like classes = 1 color) and set automatic reminders so that 30 minutes before each event, my phone will get a notification. It forces me to go to whichever event (lecture, meeting) is coming up, without allowing me to forget about it or put it off. This is an example of what my calendar looked like in one previous week. If a crunched schedule makes you overwhelmed, just split types of tasks into different calendars and then uncheck whatever boxes you don’t want displayed. As you may see, I made a separate calendar called “ARC CLASSES” on a tab on the left; this includes gym classes that fit in my schedule so that I can uncheck and check the box whenever I want to see it on my calendar.
Block out time!
You can do this on Google Calendar or your own planner. I don’t use my Passion Planner nearly as much as my Google Calendar (only for planning out homework usually) but either one works! If you forget things easily like me, make sure you insert time for smaller tasks too so that you don’t forget to do them. You can make simple labels for those such as “meet with advisor,” “email TA,” and “buy milk and bread.”
Bigger tasks can be color coded with bright colors like red and yellow so they pop out more. On personal planners, the tasks can also be underlined, circled, or CAPITALIZED. Studying for an exam, finishing online homework, writing a blog post (hehe) or catching up on lecture videos can be considered “bigger tasks.”
Here is a nice example of a handwritten weekly plan from @studyburrito (via Instagram). If I had pretty handwriting, I would do this all the time.
Break it Down
Adding on to the last bullet point, the more specific, the better! Instead of just writing “study for Chemistry exam,” break it down to a checklist like this for example:
- Finish typing study guide
- Review Study Guide
- Memorize polyatomic ions
- Review Discussion Worksheet #5 & 6
Here are some cute to-do list templates:
Also, the feeling after you get after finally checking off a box (or all the boxes in your to-do list) is unbeatable. Oh, and if you take forever planning to make your plan look aesthetic, I hate to break it to you but that is also procrastinating (sorry).
I am not perfect and I DEFINITELY still procrastinate sometimes, but planning this way has helped me turn my time spent worrying into actually focusing that energy onto starting AND finishing my work.
Good luck, everyone! And go crush your midterms! I believe in you. Now seriously, go start your work and check those boxes off ;)