Most people need some sort of device or tool to help them stay on track and manage time well. Very few people can stay organized without a little help; you could use an app that stores appointments and sends reminders, or a timer that helps you keep on track.
We’re all different, and some students like simple tools while others prefer gizmos with pop-up reminders and alarms. It doesn’t really matter which tool you use. It’s just a good idea to use some tool!
Find one that fits your personality and style. You’ll be amazed at the freedom that comes from getting organized!
1. Time Management Clock
You can design your own clock to manage your tasks, and be ready for school right on time! Use a big round clock and a labeler to create a took that will help you finish each task by a certain deadline. This is a simple tool, but it works wonders!
You can create labels with an inexpensive labeling machine and place them on a big-faced clock in the appropriate spots. The clock image on the left shows labels that mark priority deadlines for certain tasks for a student writing an essay.
You can also use colorful foam letters (with sticky backs) to create a time management clock for school mornings. Your finished clock will look like the one on the right, but you may think of other necessary tasks for your own clock.
Just label the most important tasks you carry out and give yourself a certain deadline for finishing each one.
2. Daily Task List
This is one of those simple tools that anybody can use. In fact, the task list consists of a pen and a paper tablet. But you’d be amazed at the power this simple organization tool provides you! You simply write down every task that you want to complete on a single day, and cross them off as you progress. Any tasks that are left undone (or those that can’t be completed) are carried over to the next day.
- Set your goals for a month. Record any large assignments or projects that you need to finish.
- Divide your big jobs into small tasks. For example, if you need to make 100 science flash card in the next month, you can put “Make 10 flashcards” on your list some days.
- Prioritize your tasks. For instance, you’ll need to brainstorm a project first, buy supplies next, and start creating posters third.
- Use an inexpensive paper tablet or a favorite diary to write down a list of tasks you should complete every day. Keep it on you at all times.
- Look at your list at least three times a day. Some tasks can’t be completed until others are done or until you’ve reached a certain destination, like school or the library. It’s a good idea to keep checking periodically as a reminder.
- You’ll find that some tasks just can’t be completed. Don’t stress about those.
- At the end of the day, look at your task list. Mark off tasks that have been completed. You’ll have a few left over that can be completed within 15 minutes or so. Complete those.
- Tear off the old sheet, bring all unfinished or unfinishable tasks to a new page for the next day for a new list.
3. Repeating Phone Alarm
When you have an assignment that is due on a regular basis, like a journal entry that is due on over Monday, you should put this assignment in your cell phone calendar and set up an alarm that goes off the day before your task is due. This is a great way to make sure that you never forget those repeating tasks!
4. The Lazy Meter
The LazyMeter is an online tool that does the same job as the daily task list. You enter all your tasks into the LazyMeter and check off each task as it is completed. This tool allows you to add notes and reminders to each task, and carry them over to a future date when necessary. It’s a great tool for techies who prefer to use technology for reminders.
5. Gmail Account
Google has lots of tools to make homework easier–and easier to remember. The Gmail account is connected to other tools, like Google Docs and Google Calendar, that will keep you on track and organized. You can set up reminders when those big assignments are due, and you can even have those reminders sent to multiple people. IE:
- If you want or need to keep parents informed about assignment due dates, you can send them a reminder along with your own.
- If you’re working on a group project, you can send and receive reminders, and check on each other’s work through Google Docs.
6. Daily Planner
Most people own planners at some point. But owning a planner won’t keep you organized and on time. You have to know how to use the planner effectively.
- Pick the right planner. Take your time when choosing a pocket planner. Find one that fits inside a special pocket or pouch in your book bag if you can. Avoid planners with locks or zippers that will only annoy you. Little things like that will become a hassle and create bad habits.
- Name your planner. Yes, give it a name. Why? You’re less likely to neglect something with a name and a strong identity. When you name an object you give it more of a presence in your life. Call it something goofy or something sentimental—it doesn’t matter. You don’t have to tell anybody if you don’t want to!
- Make the planner a part of your daily routine. Carry it with you at all times and remember to check it every morning and every night.
- Fill in your assignment due dates as soon as you learn them. Get in the habit of writing in your planner while you’re still in the classroom. Write the assignment on the page of the due date and put a reminder message a few days before the due date. Don’t put it off!
- Learn to use backward planning. When you write a due date in your planner, go back a day or a week and give yourself a reminder that the due date is approaching.
- Use a color-coding system. Keep some colored stickers on hand and use those for reminders that a due date or other important event is approaching. For instance, use a yellow caution sticker to serve as a warning two days before your research paper is due.
- Put everything in your planner. You must remember that anything that takes up time, like a date or a ball game, will keep you from working on an assignment. If you don’t put these things in your planner as time out, you may not realize how limited your homework time really is. This leads to cramming and all-nighters.
- Use flags.You can buy sticky-note flags and use them as tabs to indicate the end of a term or the due date of a large project. This is a great visual tool that serves as a constant reminder of a imminent due date.
- Don’t discard old pages.You will always have important information in your planner that you’ll need to see again at a later date. Old phone numbers, reading assignments—you’ll want to remember those things later on.
- Go ahead and congratulate yourself ahead of time.On the day after a big project is due, put in a reward appointment, like a trip to the mall or a meal out with friends. This can serve as positive reinforcement.
7. Time Management Tracking Chart
You can use Microsoft Excel to generate colorful depictions of your progress. Learn to make a chart to track grades, points, pages, or any activity. Charts make a vivid display that can serve to motivate you into action!
8. Goal Tracking Grid
It is so easy to make goals and forget about them. We’re all human!
You can use a goal tracker to stay on track with your goals and make yourself proud. A goal tracker is just a simple grid that contains space for you to write down your long-term and short-term goals. Simply place a check in the appropriate box as you go–and watch those goals become achievements!
9. Big Wall Calendar
This is another simple but very effective time management tool. The big wall calendar should be placed on a prominent place on your wall. Use color coded markers or stickers to mark important dates or events. You’ll never forget an assignment!
–By Grace Fleming, Homework & Study Tips Expert