Posted By: Jason Liu on December 21, 2010
Before you head off to university, I highly recommend that you create a time management system that works for you. This article will outline a method that I use to keep track of day-to-day schedule through the use of a few simple technologies while studying at QC. Please note that I am no expert on the topic! This system may or may not work for you – It’s not perfect but it’s a good starting point.
- Using your Outlook/Apple Mail
When you receive your NetID for Queen’s, you’ll have the ability to access your webmail as well as many other online resources. A good first step would be to setup Outlook on your windows or Apple Mail on your mac. This will allow your computer to actively check for emails without accessing your inbox through a browser. IT Services has thorough guides here.
- Outlook Calendar/iCal
Once you have your mail client setup, the next thing you want to do is properly configure your calendar software. You may want to wait until you’ve received your schedule before configuring this as it will be the framework you will use to build your calendar.
Start the process by placing your classes. Make sure to indicate the location as well as the section (this will come in handy later). You can make things easy for yourself by setting the reoccurrence to weekly for each block after you’ve finished your entire weekly schedule. I recommend colour coding your courses so they’re visually separate from your other engagements.
During the school year: You’ll want to set a time once a week or so to set your schedule for the upcoming week(s). Sundays worked well for me in my first year. Try to be as thorough with your schedule as possible. Book-off study/reading times if necessary – this will help you keep on track and get things done. Chances of following a schedule to a tee are slim-to-none so always put in some contingency slots.
Below is a screenshot of one of my busier weeks last year. Use it as a reference to see the typical spacing of classes. (Click to enlarge)
- The Smartphone
You have it with you all the time so might as well make use of it. If you plan on getting a new phone for university, I would highly recommend that you choose a smartphone of some sort. When used correctly, smartphones can be a great time management tool. Most of these devices have calendar sync capabilities. For example, you can use your Blackberry along with the Blackberry desktop management tool to sync your BB calendar with your Outlook or iCal. Why is this useful? This way, you’ll always have access to your schedule no matter where you are. You’ll also know exactly where your classes are as well as which section you’re in (just count the number of times next year when someone asks you during an exam which section you’re in. You’ll understand). Best of all, you’ll never have to remember what you have to get done during the day. As long as you keep with setting your schedule at least once a week, you’ll have you’re entire day planned out in the palm of your hand.
It works wonders to take it one day at a time. As long as you complete what you need to get done today, you don’t have to worry about tomorrow. Tomorrow will have it’s own schedule to follow and as long as you keep up with proper planning, that assignment due at the end of the week will be taken care of.
Aside from your calendar, keeping a to-do list on your phone is also a great way to get things done. Make use of the prioritization systems and timed alerts to set reminders.
- The Pen & Pad
Although I’m absolutely obsessed with gadgets, there’s just something about a simple notebook that makes it irreplaceable. Carry one with you in your bag just in case. Sometimes you just need to write a quick checklist that would be more than bothersome to type out on a BB. Also great for leaving quick notes for people.
Hopefully this got you thinking about creating your own time management system. I’ll be posting another article soon about free and effective productivity software and why you should jump into cloud computing to reduce wasted time.
Jason Liu, B.Comm ‘13