How To Stay On Top Of College Coursework

Despite doing well in school, I am the worst at time management—especially when it comes to completing assignments. For the most part, my procrastination isn't even intentional! I just don't keep track of due dates well and things tend to sneak up on me.

When you've forgotten about an upcoming deadline for an assignment, actually doing it is only half the battle. First, you need to actually push yourself to start it. Assignments can feel really daunting when you're in a time-crunch, and it can seem like there's a lot more work than there actually is.

The key to managing big assignments is to anticipate them. If you know what's coming up, you can take more time on it and tackle it little by little, instead of rushing to finish it in one night.

At the beginning of the semester, pull up the syllabus for each class and highlight the due dates - homework, essays, projects. Once you have those identified, gather them all into one list, from the earliest due date to latest. You can transfer this list to a planner calendar or if you have a dry erase calendar you can fill in upcoming deadlines each month.

After you have your due dates all sorted out and ordered, take a look at the biggest projects and try to break them down. If you have a 10-page paper due at the end of the semester, give yourself flexible goals for when you want to have parts of it done by. Maybe you want to know the topic a month in advance and have your research done two weeks before the deadline. You know what pace works best for you and the amount of time each task will realistically take you.

Make notes of these smaller self-set deadlines as well. You don't need to strictly adhere to them, but they're so helpful as guidelines to keep you on track. This way, if something comes up in the week before the assignment is due, you can rest easy knowing that you have already done a good amount of the work.

This type of planning also helps you to find time in your schedule for course work. Say you have extra free time this week, but the next two weeks are busy with work, clubs, and classes. If you are aware ahead of time that you have an assignment due sometime during those two weeks, you can look at your schedule and decide to get the assignment done now, while you have the time, instead of trying to squeeze it into an already busy week.

There are also ways to make planning a little more fun. Look up ideas for bullet journals (like these tips) if you're a creative or crafty person. Bullet journals make planning feel less like work and more like an activity. You can also use dry erase calendars like this, which also gives you room to create weekly to-do lists. If it's easier for you, there are even apps that do the tedious work for you and help you to create schedules you can keep on your phone, so you always have them on hand (check out this list for some good ones).

I know that planning and organizing can be really tedious, but I promise it will make your life so much easier. If you have a clear picture of what your semester will look like, you will be better able to manage your workload and balance your time.

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