Everyone says that college will be the hardest part of your academic life. That’s true, to an extent — college is all about putting forth your best effort to achieve a standard that you set for yourself. No one is making you finish homework, no one is making you get A’s in your classes. However, this mentality gets a lot of people in trouble in their first year when they find themselves in a worse position than where they want to be. So, I’m here to give some insight and advice on time management and organization.

The summer before the school year began, MRADS held a bunch of workshops and panels about college life and useful tips/tricks to know as a college student. The one thing EVERYONE in MRADS stressed was to use Google Calendar. At first, I thought it was ridiculous how everyone seemed to micromanage their every hour on an app. I did fine in high school without that, so I would be fine in college, right? 

Wrong. The first week of school hit me like a truck without brakes. I wasn’t prepared for how busy and mentally taxing it would be. I knew pretty much right after my first day that there was no way I could carry on in college without some semblance of a schedule to keep me disciplined and on track with my studying and assignments. Moreover, writing down what I need to do and when I need to do it created space in my brain to think of other things.I realized that keeping track of your schedule and assignments in your head is an incredibly risky way to navigate your first semester. 

So, I sat down one day and spent an hour on Google Calendar putting in my class and office hours schedule. Now, I schedule when I wake up, eat, my class schedule, research, office hours, student org meetings, when I go out with friends — pretty much everything. I live by Google Calendar.

On top of my course load this semester, I am doing research through MRADS, working a part time job, and participating actively in an engineering project team. Needless to say, things get hectic — but the one thing that keeps me sane and put together is my calendar. I would probably miss all my classes and meetings without it, to be honest. I’m so grateful that the MRADS sophomores really emphasized the usefulness of this tool because I would probably be crashing and burning without it. 
For assignments, I initially used the “Tasks” bar that is included in Google Calendar to list my assignments. However, I found out pretty soon that this wasn’t a good fit for me because I need to see everything organized by section and due date. Then, my roommate swooped in to save my life and introduced me to Trello. 

In Trello, you can make as many lists as you want and move things around to your liking. It isn’t something you can spend hours customizing (which is nice for me because I tend to get lost in doing things like that) and it’s pretty easy to use. Essentially, it does what I need it to without taking too much time or effort. Between Trello and Google Calendar, I have my assignments, work tasks, and schedule completely covered. 

I’ll emphasize again that college is all about what YOU make it to be, and that goes for your work ethic and discipline as well. If you’re the type to take on as many things as you can, be prepared to commit to what you sign up for, and make sure you have the time to do so! It can be difficult to adjust to the high-paced schedule that we impose on ourselves, so make sure to use the tools available to you to make that adjustment as easy as possible. It will be difficult, but it’s a crucial step in your life toward self-discipline and success!