It feels like at college, so many of us are doing a lot, all the time, always, and everywhere. We all have jobs, classes, clubs, and other commitments in limitless combinations. We bounce from this event to that interview to that class to that section to the library and repeat the next day.
Personally, my brain shuts off at 9 pm and renders me useless any time after that. So how do I do all of my work without the classic college nighttime grind? I think it all comes down to 5 strategies I use to sort, organize, and analyze my workload. Most of these strategies I found a while back on social media (I stand by that it’s useful for more than dissociative doom scrolls.)
Quite possibly one of the most underrated websites is Google Keep. It’s free, simple, and easy: essentially digital sticky notes that you can customize. I have one box per class, a box for housekeeping, a box for things to buy, and a box for work/extracurriculars. I can put list-style notes in each box and check them off once done. The app lives on the homepage of my phone and the website is bookmarked front and center on my web browser. It’s the one thing I keep open on my computer all the time: an easy way to reference what I need to do and what I’ve already done.
Next to every to-do list item, I write down either a time estimate or a page count for the task. Say I have 20 minutes between classes: I can look and see what task is roughly 20 minutes of work and get that done. When my brain is too foggy for a 40 page article of words I’ve never heard, I don’t even need to bother checking it. Visualizing the amount of work each assignment demands from me helps me more effectively assign time to it.
It is with shame that I admit I am addicted to my cell phone. My fingers find their way to TikTok before I can even remember unlocking my phone at all. As embarrassing as it is to admit this, by putting my phone physically out of reach, I essentially eliminate that urge to check it.
This is another free app that helps me with my productivity. In the event that you can’t do the above and put your phone out of arm’s reach, I’ve found it helpful to turn on this app. For an amount of time that you set, the app “bakes” a dessert that will burn if you leave the app. No checking texts, scrolling through Instagram, or watching TikTok.
This semester, I’m lucky enough to have Mondays off. Instead of class, I spend the day setting myself up for the week: making a list of everything that is due, everything I need to read, groceries I need to buy, etc. In the absence of a free day to do this, I fully recommend setting aside an hour or two for the mundane tasks of setting up a to-do list, answering emails, putting things in your room away– whatever little tasks need a place on your schedule fit perfectly into an admin hour.
It goes without saying that we are all busy, that it is easy to get overwhelmed as things pile up and that breaks are a rarity. I know for me, it feels like I complete one thing just to immediately have to do another. But I suppose that it’s better to have a lot to do than nothing at all.