Write everything down. Have, maintain, and use a quarter planner to indicate when major projects will be due, exams will be given, and events will be held. Copy important deadlines (tests, papers due) into your date book from your syllabi. Write down deadlines in stages: research, outline, 1st draft, etc.
Consolidate information into your date book. Six lists means six pieces of paper to keep track of. One list is easier.
Consolidate your planning time. Take a half-hour to plan a day or week at a time, specifically looking at which assignments to do when. This way, when you have a chunk of good study time, you don’t take up the first 20 minutes deciding what to work on.
Structure your out-of-class time. Write down a specific assignment into a specific time slot, as if it was a class you were planning to attend. Be there on time.
Use small bits of time between classes and meetings effectively. In fifteen minutes you can review, edit, and revise your notes from a recent lecture. A half-hour is good for beginning a problem set.
Handle each piece of paper once. Stop shuffling paper from one pile to the next. Make a decision about what to do with the paper and do it. When you take time to read e-mails, respond to them immediately.
Diagnose your procrastination. Is it really the WHOLE paper you’re having trouble starting, or just deciding on a topic? Is it the whole problem set, or just one that has a section you can’t understand? Rome wasn’t built in a day; college takes 4 years; difficult tasks are meant to be subdivided.
Build rewards into your schedule. Four hours of solid studying followed by a half-hour phone call to your best friend is more productive than four mediocre hours of study interspersed with phone calls.
Take time for yourself. Exercise, have fun, have relationships, and sleep.
When distractions knock, answer the door. If you give a moment of your full attention to something that has you worried or distracted, it is more likely to be quieted.
Center for Teaching and Learning, Sweet Hall, Stanford University Adina Glickman (650) 723-8676 or firstname.lastname@example.org