Now that you can see the big picture of your semester and weekly priorities, the next step is to create a daily to-do list to prioritize your tasks. You may wish to use a paper planner for your lists, or track your tasks on your smartphone. Do what works best for you. Here are some principles to consider as you create your to-do list:
- At the end of each day’s work, take a few minutes to plan the following day.
- Write down each task you hope to accomplish. Indicate which tasks are the highest priority.
- Break large tasks into smaller units. Consider what you will accomplish in one work period (usually about one hour before taking a break). Create tasks that are well-defined; you should know when the task is finished. For example, “work on research paper” does not have a clear goal. By changing this to “find three academic articles for research paper”, or “create research paper outline”, you will be able to clearly see what you need to accomplish. You will also be able to reward yourself for successful completion.
Check off tasks as you complete them. This will increase your sense of accomplishment and create forward momentum. When you have finished the day’s tasks, celebrate with a well-earned reward. Move any tasks yet to be completed to tomorrow’s task list.
For the next week, commit to a system for daily to-do lists. Use a paper planner (the KSA distributes these to students for free), or an app. There are many excellent free task management apps available, including Wunderlist (www.wunderlist.com) and Microsoft To-Do (https://todo.microsoft.com/)
After you have implemented your system for one week, re-evaluate. Continue what works for you, and make any modifications needed.
Extend Your Learning
Want to explore further ways of managing your time? The following links will lead you to more information and helpful templates.