Get a CALENDAR…and then USE it!

This seems so simple, but it is amazing how much a calendar can change your life! 

By using a calendar, you allow yourself to stay focused, motivated, and disciplined towards reaching your goals.  You also learn to take responsibility for important actions that need to be done.

Below are 5 tips on how to effectively use your calendar:

1.  When I say “calendar,” I mean the kind made of paper that you can hold in your hand, flip through pages, and look at every month at a glance.  What you’ll want to do is gather all of your syllabi and write down every homework assignment, exam, project, and meeting that you will need to complete for the entire semester.  By doing this, you can start to see when each task is due and how much time you will have to complete each one.  For example, if you have a homework assignment, exam, project, and meeting all due in the next three weeks, you will need to prioritize your work and start early (like today!) so that you can avoid feeling rushed or overwhelmed.

Unfortunately, these days, many students rely solely on their cell phones to remind them what to do.  Sure, there are countless free calendar apps that you can download, but what if your battery runs out or you lose your cell phone?  Instead of waiting for your cell phone to remind you to do something, make a habit of checking your calendar every day to make sure that you’re on track…or ahead of schedule.

(Side note: Writing down information is so much easier and faster compared to typing single words on a smartphone button which is about the size of a frozen pea.)

2.  Pick a calendar that best suits you and one that you will actually USE.  Hey…if getting that calendar with the cover of Justin Beiber is going to motivate you to focus on your tasks, then go for it!  Finding the right calendar needs careful thought and consideration.  Some students want to focus on one day at a time while some students want to know what is going on for the entire week or the entire month.  Whatever you choose, you don’t have to limit your calendar to just academic tasks; write down your doctor appointments, work schedule, and family obligations in the same calendar so that you can keep track of everything important going on in your busy life.

(Side note:  If you find that your calendar has more social events and activities that distract you from school, it is definitely time to re-evaluate your goals and how you plan to achieve them!)

3.  Get a calendar that you can carry with you.  If your professor makes an announcement about your next exam, you will want to pull out your calendar with ease so that you can jot down the information immediately.  If you own a wall calendar that takes up ¼ of your room, it is definitely not the most convenient one to keep in your backpack!  (Imagine having to unfold such a ginormous calendar that won’t even fit on the top of your desk!)  If your calendar is too big or too bulky for you to carry around, then you probably want to get something more portable.  You don’t want to wait until you get home to update your calendar…by then, you may have already forgotten the information that you needed to know!

(Side not:  Just because you now have a calendar, it does NOT mean that you can toss all of your syllabi in the garbage!  You will still need them for other information, such as your professors’ email addresses and/or office hours.)

4.  Use a pencil to write down the dates of upcoming exams, assignments, and projects.  A pencil makes it so much easier to make changes in case there are changes…and, trust me, there will be changes!  It’s not that your professors want to confuse you, but unexpected things may come up during the semester that causes an assignment to get pushed back a day or week later.  For example, your class may engage in an exciting and important discussion that your professor wants to continue for the next meeting or maybe a special guest lecturer is invited to class that wasn’t planned before.

(Side note:  When changes do come up, write the new information on both your calendar and syllabus.  Just in case you forget to put your calendar in your backpack, you still have the correct information on your syllabus.)

5.  Review your calendar every day BEFORE your day begins so that you know what’s going on.  It doesn’t help to look at your calendar at the end of the day right before bed unless you’re trying to find out what it is that you did MISS and FORGOT to do.  Now, it’s okay to look at your calendar at the end of the day right before bed if you’re reviewing it one last time before the next morning’s tasks!

(Side note:  If you want a FREE calendar – yes, a FREE calendar – you can go to the Student Services Building and ask for a Student Guide.  The Student Guide has helpful information on support services, as well as a CALENDAR for students to use!  Bet you didn’t know that, did you?)