Time Management and Organization

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We all have multiple demands on our time and there are often more things that we want/have to do than we can fit into our day. There isn't a single system that works for everyone but the information below is tried and true. Adjust it to your circumstances as you experiment and learn what works for you.

Setting Priorities

To deal with competing demands and opportunities, you have to decide what is most important to you. Write out a list of assignments and exams for each class and rank them in order of priority for the term. You should plan to complete all the assigned work but when multiple assignments are due in the same week, a priority listing helps you get started rather than being paralyzed by the volume of work. Do one thing at a time and choose the most important things first.

Organization 101

Figure out a system and stick too it. Three pillars of organization you can rely on are:

  • Use a calendar or day planner (apps or classic paper and pen will work)
  • Use a filing system so that you can easily find notes and returned assignments
  • Have a study buddy or two in each class

Use a Planner or Calendar App

USask students have access to an Outlook Calendar through PAWS. Put due dates and exam dates in as soon as you know them.

Break large assignments down into steps, each with a due date:

  • Sept. 20 - choose essay topic
  • Sept. 21 - start research
  • Sept. 23 - create outline
  • Sept. 30 - first draft complete
  • Oct. 2 - revised draft complete
  • Oct. 4 - submit essay

Use a Filing System

It's not much fun to be scrambling to find important notes or assignments the night before and exam or assignment due date. Using a logical filing system can save you a lot of stress.

If you are taking handwritten notes, you will probably take a clipboard to class because there won't be room on the tables/desks for binders. You should use a binder for each class and store notes and assignments chronologically. Use transparent binder pockets to keep returned exams and assignments. If you class has a lab, use dividers to create a separate section for those materials.

If all your notes and assignments are done digitally, create a digital file system and back it up to a cloud service. USask students get 1TB of storage on OneDrive. Make a folder for each class with subfolders for notes and assignments. Labeling files with a consistent date and title format can be helpful if you accidentally save something in the wrong folder. E.G. 2020-OCT-8 ENG 112 Notes.

Class Contacts

Having one or two phone and email contacts in a class is better than spamming everyone with a "I need notes from Wednesday" email. Yes, that means you will have to get to know somebody in each of your classes. Remember to put the class along with the person's name in your contacts. E.G. Richard Martin (POLS 112) 306-555-5555 abc123@usask.ca

Use Time Wisely

"There's only one thing more precious than our time and that's who we spend it on." - Leo Christopher, Poet

The life of a university student can be very busy and it might seem like there isn't enough time to get everything done. Learning to wisely invest your time into people and tasks that matter (including yourself) is one of the great lessons that university has to offer. Learning strategies to be efficient with your time and having reasonable expectations for yourself will help you manage the business of everyday life, reduce stress, and improve your overall wellness.

Learn to Say No

Don't fall into the trap of overextending yourself in the early part of the term when it seems like your workload is light. Everyone has to set reasonable limits for themselves and say no to things they might want to do. If you feel you have committed to more than you can manage, you have to decide what to let go of. Learning to respectfully say no is an important life skill.

Schedule Class Time for Web-based Courses

Build a weekly schedule for your classes and follow it even if the classes are asynchronous.

If you are in five classes per term, you could easily use 30-40 hours per week for lectures, readings, reviewing notes, and general studying. Start with 3 hours lecture and 3 hours reading & study as the base for each class. Labs and major assignments require additional scheduled time.