Thursday, September 4, 2008

Managing a Busy Schedule

As another semester begins, I am posting a few organizational tips that I find useful in keeping track of my own busy schedule. I am including strategies for both those who love computers and those who hate them. The basic idea is to develop a system that works for you to organize and simplify your life (for reflection on the spiritual dimensions of simplicity, see Richard Foster).


  1. Go through your syllabi and write down every assignment and when it is due in one place.
  2. Write out a regular schedule for yourself that includes your other commitments and designates extra study time for completing major assignments.
  3. Make a to do list and look at it every day.
  4. Once a week, review the things you accomplished last week (congratulations!), remind yourself to finish things you left incomplete (oops!), and add new things you need to do during the next seven days (you can do it!).
  5. Evaluate whether your system is working and make changes that fit your schedule, personality, etc. (you can find additional ideas and tips at 43 Folders or Lifehack)

  1. CALENDAR: Sign up for a free Google account and set up a calendar that you enter all your deadlines (you can even tell it to send you email reminders a week, day, or minutes(!) before they are due).*
  2. TO DO LIST: Sign up for a free Remember The Milk account and use that to manage a system for "getting things done" that works for you. (43 Folders and Lifehack are very useful for this stage)
  3. INTEGRATION: Download Firefox and get the Remember the Milk addon for Google Calendar (and Gmail too, if you use that). This will enable you to add tasks to RTM from your Google Calendar.
  4. MAKE IT EASY: Create a bookmark in your browser's toolbar (or make it your "homepage") so you can get to your to do list/schedule easily and use it daily.
  5. CUSTOMIZE: Review your system to evaluate what is helpful and what is not. If you waste a lot of time maintaining your system, figure out ways to streamline the process.

*my courses all have a link to a iCal formatted version of the syllabus that you can import into Google Calendar - professors who wish to use my EditGrid template can find it here.