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Procrastination is an easy habit to fall in to, especially for students. The Getting Things Done management system by David Allen is an excellent way for any student to build good work habits. It’s still not too late to make a New Year’s Resolution, so let’s take a look at how to apply this system at school and stay on track to succeed this year.
The GTD methodology Inbox
The Inbox is one of the most essential components since everything you’ll do comes to life in the inbox. As you receive new homework, papers, projects and other assignments, save them directly into your IQTELL workspace’s Inbox using the EZ Bar. Do not expect that your busy mind will be able to remember everything, so it’s very important to put everything down. This will help you create a comprehensive list to be reviewed at a later time.
Ideally, you should visit your Inbox once per day. With each inbox item that you put in, it’s best to follow this workflow:
Start from the top of your Inbox. For each entry, decide whether it is a project with multiple components or an assignment with a single item that needs to be completed.
For an assignment, create an action from the inbox entry – and be specific. For example, “review Calculus chapters 1 – 3” will help you target better what needs to be done than simply “study Calculus”.
Next, decide whether the assignment is classified according to date or context. A context is a good way to organize your actions since you may need to be in a certain location or require certain equipment/materials to complete the assignment. A general context list for students might look like this: dorm, library, class, computer lab, and work. Of course, this is just a general list and should be customized to suit your own needs. By including the context, you will know where you need to be in order to complete an action when the time comes.
If there is a due date, include it in the Action details, but also be sure to add a calendar event to help remind you. If it is a high priority assignment such as a term paper, also set an SMS reminder for a reasonable time ahead of the due date.
For assignments that will be due every week (or on some other cycle), create a recurring action to help keep your Inbox free from clutter and save yourself some time.
Some items in your inbox may be more involved and require more than just one action. If it fits this description, create a Project directly from the inbox item and add the appropriate actions within the project. Also include the due dates and context for each action where appropriate, and set a due date, calendar event and reminder for the project as a whole.
The Weekly Review
It’s essential to do a weekly review in addition to the daily review of your inbox. Take a look at your calendar for upcoming due dates (go to your productivity app calendar) for all of your classes and your Dashboard’s Watch List for upcoming assignment due dates. If you foresee days that you will not be able to complete all of your scheduled actions (in addition to attending class, eating and sleeping :), the weekly review is a good time to schedule some of those actions at an earlier time if possible, and at a later time as a last resort.
Hopefully you’ll be able to stay on top of your academics with this system and start getting things done in school, but it’s important to stop and observe if something is not working well, and to fix it immediately. We’re glad to hear any feedback or suggestions on being productive in school, drop us a line in the comments or on Twitter and Facebook.