You’ve started college, and you suddenly realize that you don’t have the same free time you once did. How can you make sure you keep meeting all of your responsibilities, without losing your opportunity for personal downtime or moments with your friends and family?
There are a number of tools — from low- to high-tech — that can assist you in planning your schedule for the day, the week, the month, and even the year. Check out our list of six tried-and-true ones that should get you organized for the coming college semester, as well as the rest of your duties.
#1 – Buy a Paper Planner
Are you someone who’s a bit of a traditionalist? You may want to turn to a paper schedule/planner book to keep yourself organized. The benefits of a paper planner are that it doesn’t have to be downloaded and can go with you anywhere. Best of all, paper-based planners aren’t too pricey.
There are a number of downsides, however. Firstly, you could lose it. Secondly, it doesn’t offer any automatic alerts of upcoming due dates. Finally, it can’t be accessed from different devices as an e-calendar or other project management software could.
#2 – Take Advantage of Any Built-in To-Do Lists on Your Phone or Computer
One of the simplest ways to keep track of your assignments is by using the built-in to-do list apps that come pre-loaded on computers and mobile devices. While they are very basic, they can work well for brainstorming. When used with other more robust apps, they can be valuable in your workflow. For example, you may choose to use your to-do list while discussing an upcoming group project. You can then define each task and put them in your calendar with due dates.
#3 – Use Google Calendar
A Gmail account is free and with it comes the Google Calendar. If you haven’t tried Google for this purpose, you’re overlooking an exceptional chance to keep yourself on track. With Google Calendar you can:
- Track all of your responsibilities — You can date them and add a time if you’d like.
- Color-code your responsibilities — This is extremely helpful in keeping track of everything you need to do. For instance, you could make sure all of your Vista College classes are in blue, while your full-time job responsibilities are in yellow. This allows you at a glance to see when you’re needed — and where.
- Use a “To Do” list — As you finish your “to do” list items, you can check them off and delete them or leave them up (so you can see what you’ve accomplished.)
Though this is a simple-to-use calendar, it’s tremendously helpful, especially if you haven’t been using a calendar until this point. You can even give trusted loved ones access to your calendar so they can see what your schedule is like.
#4 – Try Online Scheduling or Project Management Tools
There are a number of different online scheduling or project management software tools to help you keep track of your projects and deadlines. Often, they have free versions.
Look for a project management software that can be accessed from any device with Internet access. Ideally, it will have a mobile app so you can use it on your phone. The best online project management tools allow you to add multiple to-do lists, items, due dates, and notes. You may also want to find one that promotes collaboration. That way, if you’re working on a large project with a group, you can easily assign tasks and follow up.
#5 – Download Scheduling Apps for Your Smart Phone
There are numerous scheduling apps available for free or a nominal fee on app stores. Each of these scheduling apps claims to help you arrange your schedule and keep you focused each day. Make sure you look for one that’s going to be all-inclusive. If it only offers you a part of the puzzle, you might not benefit from it. In fact, it might be a good idea to try two to three different apps — especially if they are inexpensive — in order to judge which one is best suited for your lifestyle.
#6 – Create Your Own Scheduling Tool
Are you comfortable with Excel or Access? You may want to create your own scheduling tool. Who knows? It may be the start of software or a plug-in you could sell later!
Look at where you need help and make that your starting point. For instance, if you keep missing lectures at college, you probably just need something to remind you of your classes. This could be accomplished with a simple spreadsheet.
How will you make sure you’re budgeting your time properly? Tools are available, and it’s up to you to use them.
To learn more, read our list of 4 tips for managing a full-time job alongside schoolwork.