Oh, the adventures of Grad School!

I have only been in school for two weeks and I am already busy with work! I’ve been trying to stay on top of things and keep myself organized so that I don’t forget anything! I figured I would share some tips on how I’m *attempting* to stay on track in case any other students are in the same boat this semester!

Keep a calendar…or two!

This is something new that I am trying. I’ve always kept a planner, but I realize that sometimes I don’t always have it with me, which can then lead to me scheduling two things simultaneously, or not adding something to the calendar at all….that never ends well! I’ve decided to keep TWO calendars of the same information in different forms. I use my calendar in Entourage (the email program for Mac, like Outlook!) to put my class schedule, work schedule, rehearsals, concerts, appointments…anything that has a time! If you have a smartphone, you can sync your Entourage calendar with your phone calendar, which is yet another place you can access your schedule.

I also keep a written planner that has a week-by-week format that you can add assignments to, or use it however you wish to organize it. I re-created my Entourage calendar week-by-week, adding in the times, and on the month calendar I put my assignments on the day that they are do, so when I glance at the month I know exactly what is coming up and when I have time to complete it.

Keep a weekly to-do list!

I find that I often go through my day thinking about everything I need to do tomorrow, so I keep a piece of paper in my planner where I keep my to-do list for the week. This is how I organize it so that it’s easy to keep up with:

Due Date/Assignment/What class

Example: Wednesday 1-26       /       Analyze Faure Requiem       /       Conducting

As I complete each item on the list, I cross it out! (Which for some is very rewarding!) For non school/work related items, like “go to the post office” or for more long term projects such as “think about research project topics,” I keep a small box on the bottom of my paper with a mini list of those things so that it’s all in one place.

When you aren’t in class/work, what are you doing?

This is a key strategy that is keeping me afloat! Instead of acknowledging every time I am not at school or work as “free time,” I am trying to designate a time for each class where I habitually do that work. For example, if you have class from 10-1 and work from 3-5, use the time from 1-3 for homework for a specific class, or maybe that will be your gym time, etc. I’m learning that the more you have to do, the less time you have to think about when you are going to do everything! Looking at your schedule and including/inserting the time you need for homework, gym, and anything else you need/want to do will not only establish a routine, but it will allow you time to get everything you need done, and still have time for free time!

Add more hours to your day…somehow!

I know that if we could buy more hours of the day off of Amazon we would all do it in a heartbeat, but unfortunately that’s not in the cards! The only answer is to wake up earlier, or stay up later! By increasing the hours you are “awake” and doing things you’ll feel that you may have more time. I never used to be an early riser AT ALL, but now I’m finding that I have no choice but to wake up earlier to start my day earlier. Since I am a huge coffee fan, I set my coffee pot to brew at a certain time in the morning so that it bribes me to get out of bed. Sadly, it really works.

Other posts to consult:

This is a subject that a lot of music students and educators discuss, and some have written helpful posts that are definitely worth a read!

So there you have it! I’m hoping to stick to my own advice and stay ahead of everything! Hopefully this was helpful!