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A Time Management System for Students Who Are Terrible at Time Management And Tend to Hate it More Than Slow Torture Involving Electrical Current and Sensitive Anatomy

September 19th, 2007 · 6 comments

Some students simply hate time management. Maybe it goes against their well-cultivated, leather jacket wearing, acoustic guitar crooning, Kerouac reciting image of artistic rebelliousnesses. Maybe their parents used to beat them with Day Runners. Whatever the reason, they exist. Trying to force upon them a fully-developed, student-centric time management system — such as GTDCS — is a lost cause.

For these individuals, what we need is a middle ground. Something that is better than the stress-inducing chaos that defines their current schedule, but that remains so brain dead simple that they might actually stick with it (and, more importantly, become a big enough fan, down the line, to move on to something a little more advanced). Here’s just such a system:

Three Rules for Brain-Dead Simple Time Management

  1. Jam a simple calendar in your backpack. You can leave it in there. When you’re in class, and bored, and your professor mentions a new deadline, jot it down on the calendar. It’s something to do. Having it on paper will greatly reduce your stress.
  2. Jam a legal pad into your backpack. If something pops into your mind as needing to get done, and your backpack happens to be around, jot it down on your legal pad. Again, the goal is to get it out of your head. Every time you jot something down you can’t help but see the other stuff already on the pad — preventing it from being forgotten. Feel free to cross things off as you finish them. This feels really good. But it’s not necessary.
  3. Follow a panic ritual. Because you suck at time management, you will probably enter a panic attack mode, in which you feel completely out of control, around once or twice a month. When this happens, deploy a set ritual. Take your backpack to an off-campus coffee shop. Get something strong. Fish out your calendar and legal pad, survey what’s on your plate, and try to come up with a plan that seems solid enough to calm you down. If you worry about maintaining your image, you might consider surreptitiously covering your calendar with a book on the Hegelian Dialectic. The chick behind the counter probably digs German Idealists.

6 thoughts on “A Time Management System for Students Who Are Terrible at Time Management And Tend to Hate it More Than Slow Torture Involving Electrical Current and Sensitive Anatomy

  1. Kelly Sutton says:

    Also see PocketMod, a free, reusable day planner made out of one page.

    http://www.pocketmod.com

  2. Elley says:

    Great post!

    I do something similar. Mini-Moleskine with a post-it on the outside (for the immediate tasks/reminders, etc.)

  3. Nadia says:

    LMAO – this blog is fantastic. I’ve been looking for one like this for a long time. Kerouac kids lol

  4. Raissa says:

    hahahahaha ah I know this feeling too well.

    legal pads are life. I am the most forgetful person I know and am always losing things and not remembering to do things… but when it comes to schoolwork, I have never been stressed for a deadline.
    most importantly, I have never felt guilty as a student (ie I should be or should have been studying this, preparing that).

    That’s mainly because I use my legal pads and calendars EVERY DAY for organizing schoolwork obligations and things such as book titles, quick thoughts, etc. It’s time to start generalizing that use……… where the hell are my shoes

  5. MH says:

    Cal,

    I’ve been a fan of your books and long-time, silent follower of your blog. I have had a great shift in paradigm in terms of my academic life because of what you’ve preach and this post really helped, except instead of the classic paper and pen management style, I put the things I have to do in an app called Task (Android), and I use Google Calendar on a regular basis. I wonder if that is still considered minimalist.

    Best.

    p/s: “Maybe it goes against their well-cultivated, leather jacket wearing, acoustic guitar crooning, Kerouac reciting image of artistic rebelliousnesses.”

    This part made me laugh of how accurate it is for me.

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