The second semester of my junior year of college began with fat syllabi and even fatter reading assignments. Needless to say, I was overwhelmed at the number of pages I was expected to get through each week. Time management was definitely an issue. One night, one of the many nights I stared at pages on Old Brit Lit and older Political Theory, I tried to figure out how I could actually find enough hours in the day to read Machiavelli and Sir Gawain without losing my mind.
So I pulled out a piece of paper and made a time chart. As I figured out how many hours I would need for every subject, I began to calm down. When I broke it down into hours, the reading time suddenly didn’t feel so overwhelming. I had written out my subjects—Political Theory, Early Brit Lit, Fiction Writing, Technical Writing, and Spanish—and added social and writing categories to make sure I actually found time for something besides school. The list was organized and structured- no surprise that my time management system taped into my preference for Structural thinking.
But something about a purely structural time management system didn’t seem to be enough. I grabbed a stack of note cards and my trusty colored pens. I played around with a few ideas, and finally I wrote down every subject on its own card. I did the same with the days of the week. These then went on my wall, days of the week across the top and subjects down the side, spanning five feet in total.
From there, if I was going to work on a subject on a certain day, I created a card to indicate how much time I had allotted and when I wanted to do it. Everything was color coded to make it easily readable- and to make sure I found it visually appealing.
So the next day, a Friday, I had marked two hours of Lit, one of Spanish, and one and a half of Poli Sci. And I did it. I did it every day.
I knew I liked the structure of a schedule, but something about making my own, manipulating the hours with sticky notes and creating my own coloring system (Poli Sci is always green, Creative Writing always yellow) made me actually want to finish my homework.
You see, in addition to my Structural thinking preference, I also have a preference for Conceptual thinking. By combining the structural aspects of the time chart with the highly visual wall cards, I had created a time management system that worked for me. This new chart combined the best aspects of my thinking preferences. Knowing my brain, using structure and visual cues, made studying easy and made me more productive overall.