Whether you use an “old school” paper agenda or an electronic device, staying organized and on top of your busy class schedule is a top priority. Especially as you charge ahead with your best intentions for 2014, it is important to be sure you are maximizing your time and efficiency to ensure another year of success and achievement. Undoubtedly, some agenda tools and formats are more effective than others are, but for the most part, the magic of organization is about the user – YOU. Keep your habits and practices streamlined and you will notice a significant improvement in your ability to stay organized.
Here are 10 tips to manage your agenda, and ultimately, your time.
1. Choose an agenda that is right for you. There are many flashy tools out there, but if they are not right for you, then you will find yourself struggling to use them appropriately. Don’t allow yourself to be swayed by the “cool factor” at the detriment of your organization.
2. Bring your organizer with you everywhere. Being prepared is the first step to being successful, and this means having the ability to make plans at any time, anywhere.
3. Keep it neat. It is critical to keep your agenda neat, legible, and easy to understand later on. Quick jot notes have a tendency to start out neat and spiral downward as time goes by. Be sure to keep this in check.
4. Establish a consistent format and/or code system. Have you ever gone back to read your agenda and had no idea what you had written? To help reduce this common problem, increase efficiency, and reduce the amount of space you use in your agenda, use a short form code system (that makes sense to you). For example use “DD” for due date, “RR” for research required” or “S” for study. Commit to a standard format, i.e., “DD Jan.31/9am” to ensure you messaging is always clear and systematic.
5. Use colour and/or symbols to prioritize your notes. There are several creative, effective ways to categorize your agenda items. Draw a box around critical items, write them in a bright colour, underline, highlight, assign an A-B-C rating system, or even dog-ear the corner of key pages. In an electronic agenda, use your flags, set an alarm, and link all of your devices to keep consistent.
6. Break down projects into parts. Many assignments have multiple parts and due dates. Creating a “work-back” schedule will ensure you properly evaluate how much time you need for each component and that you are working strategically. This could mean scheduling yourself study time, research time, travel time, and/or break time.
7. Time yourself. A common problem with staying organized is over or under-scheduling. Get into the habit of estimating how long something will take you and then record your actual completion time. This experiment will give you a more accurate idea of your work pace and allow you to plan more effectively.
8. Don’t be choosy. It’s better to write it down in detail and not need it rather than need it and not have written down, so write it all. If you write/type neatly and appropriately into the space allotted (and using your abbreviated code system), then you should be able to write down anything and everything that has a due date, tasks associates to it, or other points that might assist you in the future.
9. Check it off! When you finish an assignment or project, track your progress and check it off in your agenda. You will find this gives you a well-deserved feeling of accomplishment.
10. Write, review & reflect. Write endnotes as you complete items and projects. “I could have used more time for this”, “I learned ……. from this assignment”, “avoid volunteering to do this again!” At the end of each month, refer back to your notes and reflect on your successes and challenges. Learn from your mistakes and celebrate achievements.
For more strategies and organizational tips and training, contact Ruth Rumack’s Learning Space at 416.925.1225 or visit http://www.ruthrumack.com.