Let’s talk about goals. No, not your long term career goals. I don’t expect you to have your entire life planned out right now. I know I don’t. Finals are a week away, and we both have enough pressure in our lives without another person asking us exactly what we want to do after we graduate.
I talked about making checklists and schedules earlier in my blog post Write it Down: The Guide to Making an Effective Checklist, but I wanted to talk more about scheduling, especially of the mini variety. Mini schedules are perfect because they have a lower commitment level but they still hold you accountable. Plus they’re easy to alter as you go through the day.
Most days I go over everything I have to do ─ be it homework or random tasks like laundry ─ and jot down a quick list of everything in a specific order. Then I go back and add in a time next to each item for when I want to start the task. It takes just a few minutes but it outlines my day and gives me a rough timeline to follow.
Note the use of “rough.” If you can plan out a mini schedule and stick exactly to it then power to you. Personally, I usually end up rearranging things or something unexpected comes up and I have to push everything back. Sometimes I just really don’t want to do my philosophy homework at the scheduled time but I want to get my calc homework done then. If you really don’t feel in the mood to do something at a specific time, then move the schedule around. Forcing yourself to do something is not beneficial when you could be using that time more productively on something you actually want to do. Come back to the philosophy homework later once you’ve completed the other task.
I use standard sized lined Post-Its because I can stick them to my desk next to my laptop while I work and the lines make the lists more organized. Plus there’s a limited amount of space on them, which helps you make schedules that are sufficiently long without being unreasonable. There’s nothing more disappointing than only finishing half your schedule because you tried to get 30 things done that day.
These mini schedules are great for breaking down your day, but sometimes you need to see the larger picture. I use a weekly desk pad to outline all the deadlines and upcoming tasks. Econ test on Tuesday? Write it in. Multiple loads of laundry on Thursday? Write it in. Weekly call home on Sunday night? Write it in. (Because we can’t forget that or we get a mildly passive aggressive text from the parentals on Monday morning asking if we missed talking to them last night. No one wants to deal with that on Monday morning).
The weekly desk pad lays out the larger, more general schedule for the week while the mini schedules are a more specific way to break down your day. Both are helpful and can be adjusted, and since they’re both bright and colorful, you won’t mind looking at them.