Reading assignments, papers, last minute essays, meetings, and appointments got your head spinning? Research tasks getting in the way? Survey creation, lab time, data entry, lab meetings, write-ups, and more? Most students and faculty find that they have way too much to do and not enough time.
Why a To-Do List?
Got too much to do and don't know where to start? Make a list. Many students hear the phrase to-do list and they groan. To-do lists are not a source of added work. Instead, to-do lists make your life easier because they list everything that you need to do or remember for a given day, so you don’t have to worry about forgetting anything.
Gather Your Tasks
The hardest part of making a to-do list is gathering all of your tasks. Try brainstorming all that you need to do by writing down each item - without evaluating them. Write down each task without thinking about what's entailed or organizing your list. You can take the old-school approach by writing each on a small slip or paper or a sticky note. Or you can enter each item one-by-one into a to-do list app or website. Regardless, just focus on gathering all of your tasks. Take a look at one student’s list. Use this to-do list template to record all of your tasks – and to check them off after finishing them.
Organize Your Tasks
Once you have a record of all that you need to do, organize your tasks by type, topic, due date, and/or any other means that is helpful to you. Propose realistic due dates for each item. If the task is large, like writing a paper, decide on smaller subtasks (like searching library databases for sources) and set due dates.
You’ll be more likely to keep up with your tasks – academic and otherwise – if you have a written record of what needs to be done and can check off what you’ve already completed (a very rewarding activity!). Make one for each week - and each day - and you’ll find that you’re more on top of what needs to be done than ever.