I’m promising a lot here but I assure you it isn’t an empty promise. This is a tried and true model and honestly saved me SO many times this semester, in addition to just making my life a lot less stressful and confused. I originally got this idea from Dani over at Dani Dearest. You can read her article here. She got the idea from Kirsten’s blog Organized Charm. Many thanks to these lovely ladies for this important tool. I tweaked it just a bit to suit my own organizing and planning style. It’s worked for us and it WILL work for you.
I like to divide this into 3 stages
First pull together all your syllabi. You can do this during the first week of the term when professors typically hand out and go over them.The first step is to create a spreadsheet or table ( I created a table in Apple Numbers). Calculate how many readings and assignments you have and make sure your table has that many rows. For the columns, you need to have 3. In Numbers when creating a table you have the option of creating it as a checklist. I assume something similar exists in Powerpoint.
The 3 columns I create are: Due Date, Course, and Assignment. Because I was concerned about differentiating between readings and actual assignments, I came up with a color code system. I marked readings in blue and assignments in pink. I didn’t print mine- I prefer to streamline my planning and keep in on the laptop. You could print it but Dani’s instructions might work better for you. I also decided that as assignments were completed I would mark them in red in addition to checking off the box. This process helped me keep my list from becoming muddled. Another bit of housekeeping I employed for my list: Every week I would look at all my assignments and mark the checkbox of the last one on the list for the week in red. That way I only focused on that bit. I would look ahead occasionally to ensure I knew when big projects and exams were coming up but otherwise I dedicated my attention to that specific week. Again, this is just a suggestion for effectively using the assignment list.
Now comes the good part. While typing up every assignment and reading might seem extremely tedious (and it is) by the end of the semester you will definitely find it worthwhile. Take each subject’s syllabus separately and add it all in. This step has the shortest instructions but will probably take the longest time. Pro Tip: some coffee and upbeat tunes can help the time fly by faster.
Finally, we edit the list to make it clean and concise! The most important part of this is to order the list by date. The way to do this in Numbers is by selecting the cells in the Due Date column and in the sidebar under Cell choosing “Date and Time”. You will be given an option to format the date to your liking- if you want to be extra on top of your game you can add time too.
To highlight each box for color coding (optional but recommended by me) just select the cell(s) that you want to edit and under Cell in the sidebar choose “Fill” and set your color.
And then you are edited and good to go!
The final step is execution! This is the most important- there is no success to be found in a list you don’t put to use. I looked at my list multiple times a day sometimes. It was my go-to document and I actually uploaded a non-editable copy into OneNote so I could quickly access all my due dates on my mobile devices when I was on the go. So how can you use this handy Master Assignment List to never miss a due date? Use it religiously. Mark off and check the assignments you have completed. Develop a color coding system that works for you to ensure that you are working on time. Add new assignments as they are assigned (if you have any). If you feel more comfortable with it printed, then print it out and stick a copy in your planner or on your wall and mark it up manually as you go. Or if you are like me and need things in one small space, leave it on your laptop but in a place that is always easily accessible (mine was open practically the whole semester). It might take a while to get used to this system but I found it much easier than frantically looking through syllabi or sifting through planner pages trying to figure out what’s due when. I was always prepared with my reading and assignments because I had this list to refer to. It also helped me prioritize and avoid procrastination.
Here’s a copy of my list once I was done creating it. (warning: it’s a mighty long list)
And here’s a copy of it with some markups through the semester.
See! Nice and simple.
Good luck this semester. Try out the list and let me know how it goes. And what methods do you use to make those As? Comment below and share.