Developing systems of organization and time management can greatly reduce your stress level and improve your productivity.  It is important to discover the system that works best for you, but here are some tips for improving your organization and time management:
  • You will quickly find yourself juggling a number of different responsibilities.  It is useful to maintain one calendar where you keep all of your firm commitments, class schedules, meetings, appointments, etc. 
  • It is important to develop a system of capturing your entire "to do" list, so that you can focus on taking action rather than worrying about all that you have to do.  "Getting Things Done" (GTD) is one such system, and David Allen offers a two-minute overview here
  • Be realistic about what you can accomplish in the time you have available. Some people say you should aim to confine your daily "to do" list to one sticky note. It can also be helpful to keep track every once in a while of how long it takes you to do recurring tasks (e.g., get to school).
  • If you are struggling to figure out which task is your next priority, you may want to try this technique:
    1. Scan your list quickly and note the 3-7 most important items. 
    2. Look at the first item on your list and compare it - one at a time - to all of the others. 
    3. Give the more important item in each comparison a point. 
    4. Then compare the second item with all of those below it (you already will have compared to the first), and award the more important in each comparison a point. 
    5. Do this with each item on the list until you have compared the last two items. Once you have done that, work through the list, starting with the item that received the most points.  
  • It can be useful to work in set blocks of time.  This approach can make your work load seem more manageable, and it allows time for breaks and rest, which improve your overall performance.  There are many different techniques, but the most famous method is the Pomodoro Technique.  
  • Proscrastination happens. If you just can't get started, check out "The Happiness Project" author Gretchen Rubin's ideas for getting started. For a light-hearted motivator to just get some words on the screen, check out Written? Kitten