Originally published on 11 March 2007.
My first adventure into time and productivity management started my first semester at the university. I purchased, and mostly used the student planner available at the bookstore. I had the basic problems of not knowing where I needed to be at any given time, planning for effective studying, and keeping track of things I needed to do. The student planner addressed the scheduling problem, but didn’t allow me to plan or track.
How I Got Into the System
I have to confess that school didn’t hold my attention. Throughout high school I never bothered to write assignments or tests down because the assignments were always done in class and the test material was easy…and I skated through high school without studying.
When I went to university, that was a different story. All of a sudden I was faced with challenging material, and lots of it, and absolutely no idea how to manage my time.
My first adventure into the student bookstore led me past stacks of the “official” student planner, with the mascot stamped on the front. I had always loved the mascot, having seen it on things my father had purchased during his time at the same university. So I purchased one, and examined it when I got back to my rooms.
What the System Offered
The student planner had four pages in the front, two for each semester, broken down into grids. The idea was to block out when the classes occurred. I dutifully did this, marking out the classes in my major with one color highlighter and the other classes with another. Following these pages were the weekly calendars. Two pages per week, little month calendars up at the top, and five largish lined squares for Monday through Friday, and two half-sized lined squares for the weekend. As I paged through the book, I saw nothing other than these pages. Fair enough.
How I Used This System
I was puzzled by the calendar, and satisfied myself with blocking out the holidays and breaks. I decided I would also write down due dates and examinations in there as well. After I started my work-study program, I also wrote my work schedule in.
Again, it was just a calendar. My phone numbers were stored in my separate address book, and lists I made on whatever paper I happened to have on hand.
What I learned from the Student Planner Days
Calendars Work If I Use Them
Keeping the calendar worked well as long as I remembered to use it. I can say that I was never late for a social engagement those first few years, as long as the item made it into the calendar.
I Needed a Central To Do List
Unfortunately, I routinely lost track of things I needed to do, and it was not uncommon to make three or four trips to the store and never remember to purchase what I needed initially.
Phone Numbers Need to Be Kept In One Place And Should Be Handy
I had a hard time with phone numbers, and dutifully wrote them down in my adolescent address book, which of course I never had with me. Countless numbers were scribbled on odd pieces of paper and never seen again.
Planning Is The Effective Key To Avoiding Last-Minute Action
I honestly did not grasp the concept that I could plan out my time to make sure I learned all my material. It is one of my great regrets that I never really retained what I learned in school, and I attribute this directly to my old methods of studying for the exam and then purging my memory. I think that if I had had a better concept of managing my time, I might have retained more of my education.