Right Tool For The Job: Time Management, part 2
In part two of this blog series on time management I will share some of the tools I have found that are helpful to students. Before I begin I should note here is an enormous caveat here. The tools that are available were developed by someone else. So they are, by nature, imperfect and limited in their capacity. That means two things. First, understanding the limitations of each tool will help you use it to your strategic advantage. Sometimes that understanding only comes when you use it. Second, an effective time management strategy uses a suite of tools- a set of tools that compliment one another and make up for each other’s faults. Figuring out what tools to use and how to use them will take a little trial and error. So you need to try and err.
Reminder app: So, I use apple devices for personal and (some) professional use. However, I know that android has its own native reminder app too. This is great because it is completely integrated with all the features of your devices like the “intelligent assistant” (Siri or Google Voice) built into the device –this is helpful if you frequently find yourself in situations where you need to be hands-free. It also links with your calendar app.
At-A-Glance Planner: If you like an analog system, At-A-Glance is the go-to brand for most planners. This one is specifically designed with students in mind. It has nice to-do lists you can view in each week. It is also based on the academic year, not calendar year–making it well structured for any student.
Calendar app: At this point most of us are walking around leashed to at least one kind of electronic device and hooked into at least one cloud based storage system. Both Google and Apple have done a great job allowing for multiple calendars to be integrated and created. So you could have a calendar for school, home, college applications, work, etc. and be able to see them displayed on your devices.
Evernote: This app first started as an alternative to physical notebooks–so their initial target audience was students and schools. While it is still structured that way, it has evolved into so much more. The free-ware version should be plenty for you.
Microsoft OneNote: This is certainly very similar to Evernote. This is nice for anyone who is hooked into Office365. It is great to keep all your meeting notes and ideas organized and accessible from any device, anywhere, any time
Notes app: Similar to what I have said about other native mobile device apps, this is just convenient. It is perfect when you need to create a list quickly or just jot something down. It can be a full fledged notebook or a tech version of a sticky note.
Moleskin journal: No tech is ever going to replace a good journal or notebook and a nice writing utensil. Certainly there is research that supports the value of note taking too! Using a notebook and a pen can reassure others you are paying attention. If you are really adventurous, check out the bullet journal system!
Excel: Spreadsheets are useful when trying to keep track of a lot of data points. So for instance many students use it to keep track of the schools they are applying to (application deadlines, financial aid deadlines, research, admission criteria, etc.). This could also be useful for college classes too. Transpose the pertinent information from your professor’s syllabus onto a spreadsheet, then use it to plan and execute.
Bullet Journal: This is really more of a methodology than it is tracking, but bear with me. At its core, this is about merging the wide angle lens and the zoom lens into a centralized location. For anyone out there who prefers a planner, but cannot seem to find one that is a good fit, this is for you. Why? Because YOU make it. There is no pre-fab layout. You get to design your bullet journal in what ever way makes the most sense for you. A quick google search will reveal a seemingly endless number of Instagram pages, YouTube channels, and websites completely dedicated to bullet journaling–so there are tons of ideas and approaches.
I admit these aren’t the ONLY tools out there! As I said at the beginning there are tons. These are the ones I have personally found useful and the ones I recommend to students. When it comes to time management there is no “arrived”. It must evolve and grow with you. I wish you the best of luck.
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