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Davis, California

Wednesday, July 17, 2024

My journey learning time management in college

Keeping track of deadlines is the key to being the best student you can be


By JENA TUFAIL — jjtufail@ucdavis.edu


Managing my time in high school was always easy for me. Remembering the set schedule of classes I had every year and knowing that, for the most part, every day would run on a similar schedule always put me at ease. I knew what my school days looked like, I knew what to expect after school and I knew what my weekends and breaks would be like too. However, coming to college, I didn’t realize how much this would change and how lost I would feel in the beginning of my undergraduate education. 

I’m sure many of you also felt the same, and missed the consistency of high school life. When I had my first day of my first quarter a little over a year and a half ago, I remember feeling so lost and stressed. The system I had in high school could not work any longer, and that idea was difficult to comprehend at first. Everything was changing too quickly, and I felt like I wasn’t ready for it. 

My first couple weeks at Davis I seemed to be managing fine, but by the time midterms came around I had so much on my plate that I was starting to forget everything. Long gone was that set schedule I had every day. 

There was no such thing as “office hours” in high school, or club meetings that ran at different times. Not only do we have these activities to be on top of, but work and internships schedules, assignments and class times to remember too. I remember thinking that I needed to figure out a system of time management that worked for me, or I’d lose out on a lot of opportunities. 

I started my journey of managing my schedule by printing out monthly calendars and writing my to-do list in the margins. It worked for some time, as writing my schedule and what I had to do helped me retain it better, but I quickly learned it wasn’t going to work well in the long term.

The next step I took was buying a planner and taking it along with me everywhere. I used this system in high school AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) and it worked well for me at the time, but as a college student I didn’t feel like the system was convenient or mobile enough. For days at a time I’d forget to open my planner and again relied on remembering things off the top of my head or consistently checking random notes I had written elsewhere or on random sheets of paper.

After this, I started by writing my to-do lists in the notes app on my phone, which worked well, but only if I remembered to check it. By then I had learned of Google Calendar, which was finally able to help me come up with a system that worked for me. 

With Google Calendar, I was able to input tasks and to-do lists and check them off every day. What was even better is that I could upload my assignment due dates from Canvas onto my calendar, which helped me stay way ahead of my deadlines like never before. I was able to put information for meetings I needed to attend over Zoom as well. For the first time, I figured out a way to manage my time and schedule that worked for me. 

It can be hard to find a system that works, and it can take a lot of trial and error to determine what’s best for you. It’s a journey that all students have to go through. College is a lot to handle, but figuring out a system to manage your time and the deadlines you have to meet is a great way to lessen your load and become the best student you can be.


Written by: Jena Tufail — jjtufail@ucdavis.edu

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