I’m a huge fan of productivity hacks. I love trying new systems, both digital and analog. As you know, I’m an advocate of the bullet journal system. It’s the best system I’ve seen because it is so flexible in how you utilize it. I could really go on for days.

But I’m not going to just speak about my bullet journaling, though it does play a role. As a PhD student, I have had to stay on top of my work, particularly while being a member of a very busy choral program, as well as teaching an undergraduate class, and teaching private lessons. It’s a lot to manage all at once.

I thought I would share for you how I manage my “school brain,” as I think it can be applicable to any student or educator, and most importantly, the system can be molded to fit your own needs.

All you need is a blank document and create a table! Here’s how to set up your table:

  1. A column designated to the weeks of the semester.
  2. A column per class you are taking, teaching, or maybe a combination of both. For me, I am taking 4 classes and teaching 1, so I have 5 additional columns, bringing it to a total of 6. *Note: You can further modify this to include other school/professional activities you may involved in. It’s up to you!*
  3. Make the appropriate headings for the week dates and course titles. Your weeks column can simply be “Week 1” or “January 1-6,” or whatever you prefer. I use the actual dates of the weeks.

Then, you are ready to consult all of your syllabi for due dates and assignments! Here is what mine looks like:

I kept every assignment bold until it was completed, in which case I italicized it. I was going to delete them once they were completed, but the absence of their presence made me nervous. Plus, I could always refer back to make sure I had actually done the assignment in case any grade discrepancy occurred!

The red text for the class I taught were assignments that needed to be graded. Once they were graded, I just changed it back to black and italics.

This system has been working really well, and I am finding it works in conjunction with my bullet journal system. My due date spreadsheet acts as a master list for the semester, and each week I add the appropriate assignments to my bullet journal for weekly organization. 

Here is why I think it’s working:

  • I can add to it as I go, particularly for classes that don’t outline the semester’s assignments. 
  • I can visually see the weeks where I have a lot of work due, and plan accordingly. 
  • I don’t have to consult individual syllabi to look for assignment due dates. It’s consolidated into one sheet!

Additionally, there are several ways to mold this sheet to suit your own needs! For example:

  • Teacher lesson plans, assessment dates, grading, etc.
  • Project management for any school, personal, or other projects you will have long term, like a journal article, product creation/release.
  • Blog post organization, promotion, and planning.
  • Book club reading schedules.
  • Home cleaning schedule.

And more! Anything you need to work on long term can easily be implemented into your spreadsheet. 

To avoid overwhelming yourself with too many columns, if you are finding you have a lot of projects/classes and such, maybe make 2 sheets: one for work and one for home. 

Feel free to steal this idea, or modify it to your own liking! Let me know how it works for you, or if you have any questions!

Do you have an organizational system that is changing your life? Leave a comment below, or continue the conversation on Twitter @LindsayBrazell.

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