After two and a half years as a college student, I think I finally figured out how to stay on top of all of my assignments and avoid the procrastination train.
Freshman and sophomore year I was pretty bad about leaving things until the last minute. I mean it wouldn’t be super last minute, but I’d definitely put things off way longer than I should have. That caused me so much stress and anxiety, and I totally could’ve avoided that had I just sat down and mapped things out for the entire semester.
Having an organization system that works for me is single-handedly the only way I can stay on top of and even get ahead on my assignments. It’s kind of crazy how designating an hour or so to figure out the semester will save you so much stress in the long run. Here are my tips to avoid procrastination during the school year!
For the Semester
A Semester-Long To-Do List
To be honest, this is the most time-consuming portion of my “no procrastination” routine. I set aside about an hour or so at the beginning of the semester, go through all of my syllabi, and create an Excel document with all the dates, the class, and the assignment name or test.
Don’t worry about putting them in order when you first type them. Just add them as they come from your syllabus, then hit the filter button and select oldest to newest, and voila! Your assignments are now ordered by due date and this gives you a good overview of everything you have to do for the semester!
Now I know some classes don’t map out exactly when things are going to be due, etc. but you can at least add in what you know now and keep adding things throughout the remainder of the semester.
I keep a printed copy of this in my planner at all times. It’s so rewarding to slowly cross things off the list!
For the Month
Google Calendar is my saving grace. I used to a be a strictly paper-only planner kinda girl, but since I started using Google Calendar my sophomore year, I’ve never looked back!
I typically don’t track what assignments are due when in Google Calendar (I use a paper planner and my semester to-do list for that), but here are the things I typically include:
- All classes
- Dr. Appointments
- Gym time (occasionally)
I love how I can set reminders about events (hint, hint when to walk to class), easily copy and paste events or even delete them, and have sub-calendars for each area of my life. As you can see in the picture above, I have calendars for school, my personal life, my job in res life, and the gym. My family also has a calendar that they shared with me so I can be kept up to date with everything that’s going on in my family’s life.
The best part about Google Calendar is that it syncs to all of your devices so you’ll never be stressed about forgetting your planner at home. You can also share your calendar with friends, family, co-workers, etc so they can see what you’re doing and when you’re free!
If you’re a strictly paper-only planner kind of person, I highly suggest you give Google Calendar a shot, even if it’s only for a little bit. Coming from someone who was probably just like you, it might just change your life.
For the Week
A Weekly Outline/Plan
First off, ignore my messy desktop. It’s just how I live my life LOL.
Anyways, let’s take a look at the right side and left side of the screen. These lists are the bridge between my semester to-do list and my paper planner. It’s where I list out all of the tasks and assignments I have to do for the week (and sometimes the upcoming weeks). It’s how I keep track of each class and see which assignments have the highest priority.
ON THE LEFT
Here is all my blog related stuff. I have a list of things I want to buy, a list of post ideas, and a weekly to-do list broken down into days that shows me what I should do each day to keep this here blog running.
Now if you’re not a blogger, you probably don’t need an entire side of your screen dedicated to lists of posts, products, and to-dos. BUT you could use this for an organization you’re a part of or your job or a hobby.
ON THE RIGHT
Here is my ‘command center’ for all things school and work.
I have all my classes listed out and important dates listed under each heading. At the very top of that list, I have things that are must-do items. This is assignments for the week, important things for work, and sometimes things for the blog.
You could even have headings for ‘this week’ and ‘next week’ to give you a better timeline of when things are due.
On the Daily
In general, I keep a running to-do list in my Rifle Paper Co. planner. It’s in a to-do list style format which I love. I’m not one to schedule out each and every day of my life so planners like the Day Designer aren’t really my style. After all, that’s what I use my Google Calendar for.
In here I also keep track of all of my resident’s birthdays and fun stuff like that. I don’t go crazy with my day-to-day planner, but it definitely helps keep me organized.
Other Tips & Tricks
Knock out the boring things all at once (in advance)
Last semester, this was how I got a bunch of assignments out of the way in about a week. For my classes, I usually have a bunch of case reports I have to read and answer questions about. Each of them took about 15-20 minutes to do, and I’d have one due almost every week. Instead of stressing each and every week about these reading that I didn’t want to do, I took about an hour and a half of my time one night and finished all of them. It ended up saving me a ton of time at the end of the semester.
Anytime I have a mass amount of “busy work” assignments to do, I try to get them all done at once. Of course, assignments won’t always be published in advanced, but if they are, it definitely helps to get ahead!
Finish assignments as soon as you get them
If I have smaller assignments that are due in a week or so, I’ll make sure to get them done ASAP. Finishing small assignments keep my major to-do list to a minimum.
A big thing for me is to make sure I have all of my assignments done for the week and/or next week by the weekend. I don’t know about you, but I don’t like doing homework over the weekend. I like to fully enjoy my weekends and not be thinking about all of the assignments I have to do.
Set fake due dates for major assignments
This is a big one for me. I always like to set a fake due date at least a week before the actual due date for any major assignment. This gives me a bit of a buffer in case I get sick, run into some problems, and/or need additional help from the professor or friends.
Creating mini-deadlines for different sections of a major assignment is a really great way to stay on track for that deadline. If I have a research paper, I’ll set a due date for the following:
- Basic outline
- Research note cards
- Rough draft
- 2nd & 3rd draft
- Final draft
It keeps me on track, keeps my anxiety low, and keeps me sane.
Basically, it all boils down to being organized. We all have different methods of organization, and this is just my way of staying organized. How do you organize your school work and assignments to make sure you stay ahead??