Staying Organized and Prioritizing

How many of you have had assignments slip through the cracks? It is 11:59pm and you have one-minute left to submit that 5-page paper on disruption theory you have been procrastinating getting around to. Well I can ensure you, you are not the only one.

Procrastinating seems like a great idea while you are having fun socializing—but the panic sets in somewhere around the, “I only have 24-hours left to complete this” stage. I had this moment once or twice in my college career before I learned how to prioritize and stay on top of my assignments and other obligations. Here I am going to give you a couple hints on how I managed my time a bit more wisely and had way less of those panicky moments.

Step one. Look ahead. I am a list-maker, always have been. So something I found useful was having a weekly planning notepad where I could write down what assignments were due and when. Mine looked something like this, with the days of the week listed down the left side, and my classes listed at the top:


I would fill in the blank areas about a week in advance with assignments that were due. If I had extra time, I would start filling out weeks that were even further ahead. This ensured that I was aware of what was coming up and didn’t have any surprise projects or papers. Eventually I upgraded from my notepad (which, by the way, was way cuter than the template I pictured above), and started using an Excel spreadsheet in the same manner. I crossed things off as I went and always knew what was coming. Some universities actually have apps where they populate a calendar with due dates for you, so see if that is available because it could save you some time. My university had one of those, though I chose to go old-school anyway because I heard from some people that occasionally an assignment wouldn’t show up in the calendar.

Step two. Make sure you actually use the planner. Refer to it often. Prioritize. If it was Monday, I would make sure to complete Monday’s assignments according to their importance. Which assignments are worth more points? What is due first? I tried to work ahead so that on Monday I was already doing assignments for Wednesday and Thursday. If you are always ahead by even just a day or two on your assignments, you will be able to do those last-minute social activities without feeling guilty for neglecting your homework because it is already done. If you have a big project coming up, let’s say on Friday, list that project on every day of the week leading up to it so that you know to start working on it early. If you find yourself having extra time at any point in the week, take a look at your planner and work on some of your upcoming assignments.

Step three. If you know you have pressing assignments due and some social event comes up, be smart about what you choose to do. Part of going to college as a young adult is learning how to be responsible. You won’t be able to see the latest movies or check out the ice caves every single time you get invited. I socialized a lot in college, but of course missed out on an outing here and there because I knew I had something important to do. I became really good at saying “no” when I needed to. Step two will help you miss out on less though!

Ultimately, becoming successful is determined on your willingness to take charge. It starts with the simple things like learning how to prioritize, which is a vital life skill especially in the work force. Good luck out there and happy planning!