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Taking Control of Deadlines

Taking Control of Deadlines
February 19, 2020 Rosa Barker
Notebooks and pens

I don’t know about you, but my first semester of my First Year Experience began to fall apart around Week 5 or 6. Although I was enrolled in only three courses, the workload seemed daunting and the deadlines for doing quizzes and submitting assignments for my two Skybridge classes—one of them a hybrid course—were scattered all through the week and semester, constantly clamoring for attention that I didn’t want to give them.

Sure, I could have put the deadlines into my calendar app, complete with early reminders, or used a tasks app, but here’s the thing: The great big limitless world of distractions that my laptop and cellphone offer me is simply overwhelming. More than that, software forces me to fit into the way it structures things. Heck, I didn’t even want to write deadlines into my student planner because it’s pre-lined and divided, and demands that I fit into the way it’s structured. 

Just getting to class and paying attention was more than enough structure for me! But by Week 6 it was clear I had to get a better handle on what was expected and when. So, I decided to take control of how I presented the deadlines to myself.

Checklist taped into planner
Photo by Rosa Barker

For me, the answer lay in the small notepad we were given at the FYE orientation. On it, I made a really compact checklist of what was due for each class and, as each item was completed, I checked it off. When the week (and the work) was done, I could just throw away the multi-paged list and create a new checklist for the coming week. 

My particular lifehack won’t work for everyone, but here are the steps to doing something similar if you want to try it.

Step 1: Repeat after me: I can do this! I can get everything in on time! I can review in time for the test!

Step 2: Decide which format of checklist/timeline will give you control and will bear the stamp of your personality. For some people, that will be technology-based, for others it might be paper-based, and for some it might not even be a list but some kind of diagram or drawing. (Have fun with it, but not so much fun that you lose out on study time!)

Step 3: Before the sun sets on that class you had today, update your checklist with what’s due and when. That includes any resources/readings you have to look at so you can discuss them in the next class session. Honestly, it only takes a couple of minutes to update the list and doing it consistently saves a load of panic later.

Step 4: Review the list every day, complete the things that are most urgent and make a start on the ones that will take a lot of time. If you want to immediately feel like you’re “getting stuff done”, do the easiest ones first even if they’re not due yet—but only if it still leaves you time to do the urgent ones. 

Step 5: Smile as you check off the ones you’ve completed.

Step 6: Once the week is over, move your list to the trash can (be it analog or digital) and get on with making the next one. (Or, if you’re like me, tape it in your otherwise unused student planner, just to thumb your nose at all that structure!)

Best wishes for Spring 2020, everyone!

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