How to Never Fall Behind in Classes
Alternatively titled: How to Use Your Planner or How Organization and Discipline Will Get You Better Grades
This is my full guide on how to use your planner effectively and make sure that you are never missing deadlines or falling behind in classwork and homework. This is definitely more about the university level and works best with a dated planner, rather than a bullet journal. Let’s get started!
- Get all of your syllabi together and write down dates. Go through one class at a time and mark down all of your major tests and assignment due dates. I recommend putting these dates into the monthly and weekly views, and perhaps coming up with a symbol or other indicator that tells you they are of utmost importance.
- Make a weekly schedule of when to complete readings and do a weekly review of notes. Instead of trying to randomly decide when to do these things, assign a date for each task for each class. If you have a tutorial on Tuesday, do the assigned readings for it every Wednesday. I recommend scheduling one to two weekly tasks per day, and to leave a few days open, whether it be weekends or days when you have a lot of classes.
- Make a master list of assignments. I find that sometimes, even having due dates in the calendar view isn’t enough, and they can still sneak up on you. The master list will be a good place to double check if you have any deadlines approaching easily.
- In the week or so before a due date, create a checklist of smaller tasks needed to complete the assignment. Set individual due dates for each smaller task by working backwards from the due date. Smaller tasks may include finding sources, making an outline, writing a rough draft, and editing and adding references to create a final copy. Write the smaller tasks into your daily to-do list.
- You can also do this with studying for tests, but the checklist would look slightly different. You could either sort by study method (first do flashcards, then do essay outlines, etc.) or sort by the topics you need to study.
- Stick to the schedule you have made. Obviously, if something comes up and you need to move your to-do list around, do so! But if you aren’t doing anything and you see readings on your list of daily tasks.. do them. Having the plan set out like this makes it easier for you to remain disciplined.
Why use this method?
- By creating a schedule for repeated weekly tasks like completing readings, you make sure that you can’t repeatedly push off smaller tasks until you are weeks behind. I don’t think it is very reliable to just will yourself to do readings, or to keep up with them without tracking it.
- By writing down all of your due dates, you will never be shocked to find out something is due the night before. You will know and you will be prepared.
- By creating smaller checklists of tasks to complete before a major test or assignment, you will never find yourself in a situation where you have an essay due in a few days and haven’t even started. You will be following a timeline and making sure you don’t have to rush.
I know this system may seem rigorous, but planning is the only way you can keep on top of your workload in university! Falling behind is a lot harder if you are organized and disciplined, and being on top of your workload will help you a lot when it comes to exam times… no cramming and all-nighters if you have been consistent all semester!