Remember, tomorrow is the last day of classes- so start studying now if you haven’t already!
Remember, tomorrow is the last day of classes- so start studying now if you haven’t already!
One thing I’ve heard repeatedly from numerous students is that they have a hard time keeping track of assignments and appointments. I average probably 4-5 missed advising appointments per week, with the student later telling me that they completely forgot about it. The reality is that I used to miss appointments and would lose track of when assignments were due. And then a friend introduced me to Google Calendar. It changed my life. And it can change yours, too.
All students (and employees, too!) at the University of Maine are provided a Google account. That’s actually what the @maine.edu account is. So there’s no legitimate excuse for any and all students to not use Google Calendar to help them organize their life.
First and foremost, Google Calendar can help you visually keep track of meetings and assignment due dates. You have three different viewing options for the calendar, either the daily view, the weekly view, or the monthly view. And you can easily switch between the views for whichever is most convenient at that time. You can use the daily view to keep track of appointments and meetings for that specific day. The weekly view lets you know what’s coming up throughout that week. And the monthly view puts all your assignments in perspective so that you can plan your time accordingly.
Another benefit is that you can create multiple calendars. For instance, you could create a new calendar for each course you are taking. You have the ability to have them all showing at the same time, however, and use different colours for each. Thus you could visually see the amount of work and due dates for each class.
Once you have your assignments and meetings in Google Calendar, you can set up reminders for each and every entry. These reminders can be either pop-ups (it shows up on your screen), text messages, or emails, and you can set them to be sent out a certain number of minutes, hours, days, or weeks in advance, or even a combination of those. For instance, if you have a paper due on a certain date, you could set up a reminder email or text to be sent to you a month in advance, two weeks in advance, one week in advance, three days in advance, one day in advance, and then 12 hours in advance. Then you’d have no excuse to forget about it or not get it done in time.
In addition to sending reminders, you can also receive daily agendas via your email. Once you set it up, Google Calendar will send you an email with your schedule for that day. And it can include any and all of your calendars. Once set, you will receive an email at about 5:30am that will include everything on your agenda for that day.
For the more advanced user, Google Calendar also gives you the option to share your calendars with other Google Calendar users. You can give them ability to simply read your calendar or give them progressively more rights, up through the ability to edit your calendar appointments and settings. This can be very useful in a group learning setting, so that everyone has access to the same due dates and the same reminders.
And for those students who use a smartphone or a tablet, you can sync the calendars directly with iCal on your Apple products or link to it directly on your Android phone, so you can access it any time you’d like.
So set up a Google Calendar for yourself and give it a try. Used correctly and consistently, you’ll find that you get assignments done in a more timely manner and you will not miss appointments. It will help you on your path to academic and career success.
Students attend university for various reasons, but the most common reason is that, on average, a student with a college education will make more money throughout his or her lifetime than a student without one. A college degree means increased earning power. Not only does it command more earning power but it can open the doors to many desirable opportunities and professions. According to the Institute for Higher Education, college graduates enjoy…
With all of these future benefits is should be easy to stay motivated while in school right? Unfortunately, that’s not always the case, almost a third of first year students do not make it to their second year. The reasons for this can run the spectrum from personal issues to money problems, but undoubtedly the number one barrier to student success is lack of motivation! Student’s who experience Lack of Motivation (LOM) may exhibit various symptoms such as:
All of these symptoms can lead to a widespread outbreak of first year students vanishing from college within the first year.
The good news it you don’t have to be one of those students, you can improve your resistance to LOM and thrive in higher education! Successful students learn to create their own inner motivation, providing the drive to persist toward their goals. They design a life plan and commit to their dreams. Think about it, if your life was as good as it could be, what would it look like? Design a road map that takes you where you want to end up ten years down the road. Keep this map in mind as you make your way through the next four years. The most important thing about motivation is goal setting. So begin to set small goals for yourself such as earning an A on your first Math test, or meeting with your academic advisor early in the semester, or plan on turning all your papers in a day or two early. Once you tackle and master these little goals the larger ones seem more attainable.
It is also equally important to identify what type of motivation works for you, is it extrinsic or intrinsic motivation that keeps you going through the tough times? The primary difference between the two types is that extrinsic motivation arises from outside of the student while intrinsic motivation arises from within.
Examples of extrinsic motivators include:
These motivators are fine and usually work for students, however they often lack a much needed internal desire to participate in an activity for its own sake.
So What exactly is Intrinsic Motivation? Here’s how some experts define it:
“Intrinsic motivation refers to motivation to engage in an activity for its own sake. People who are intrinsically motivated work on tasks because they find them enjoyable.” –Paul R Pintrich & Dale H. Schunk, Motivation in Education
“Intrinsic motivation is the innate propensity to engage one’s interests and exercise one’s capacities, and, in doing so, to seek out and master optimal challenges.” –John Marshall Reeve, Motivating Others
“Intrinsic motivation is choosing to do an activity for no compelling reason, beyond the satisfaction derived from the activity itself–it’s what motivates us to do something when we don’t have to do anything.” –James P Raffini, 150 Ways to Increase Intrinsic Motivation in the Classroom
“Intrinsically motivated action is that which occurs for its own sake, action for which the only rewards are the spontaneous affects and cognitions that accompany it. Intrinsically motivated behaviors require no external supports or reinforcements for their sustenance.” –Raymond J. Wlodkowski, Enhancing Adult Motivation to Learn
Intrinsic motivation is not only a harbinger for success, it is also more psychologically rewarding. Psychologist Edward Deci completed research with two groups of children to see the effect of extrinsic rewards on learning. Group one received an extrinsic reward (money) for solving a puzzle; the second group received no rewards. Afterwards, both groups were left alone and secretly watched. The group that was paid stopped playing; the group not paid kept playing. Deci summarized his findings: “Stop the pay, stop the play.” He concluded, “Monetary rewards undermined people’s intrinsic motivation…. Rewards seemed to turn the act of playing into something that was controlled from the outside: It turned play into work, and the player into a pawn…. Rewards and recognition are important, but as the research has so clearly shown and I have reiterated many times, when rewards or awards are used as a means of motivating people, they are likely to backfire.”(Edward Deci, Why We Do What We Do)
So what works for you? Immunize yourself against LOM, find what keeps you moving towards your goals and cultivate these actions. Know your motivators; whether they be extrinsic, intrinsic or a combination of both.
University life requires that a student must accept the importance of effective use of time. How students choose to spend their time can make the difference between success and failure in their academic career. It is especially important to self-manage your time, even if you don’t feel like it, which, let’s face it, there are many times that we do not feel like doing the things we know we should.
There are various management methods that can be employed to make the best use of your time; each has its own unique benefits and purposes. The following are some ideas of time management tools that can be used on a daily basis to improve productivity and help you manage your limited time. Some students resist using a written self-management system and believe that they can store it all in their heads. If that is the case than they are probably not doing very much! Experiment with a few ideas from below and see what works for you. You might be surprised by how easy it is to design a useful self-management tool that works for you.
Make a To-Do List:
Priorities and Deadlines:
Meeting those Deadlines:
”Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report on birds written that he’d had three months to write. It was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother’s shoulder, and said, “Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.”
Although it is not recommended that you try to get a report that you have been given three months to finish done overnight, the key concept is not to let a large project immobilize you.
Put Time and Effort into Achieving Those Goals:
Begin A Daily Routine:
A recent article on the Harvard Business Review got me thinking about the importance of a daily routine to success. In fact, research has shown that, throughout history, the most successful people in their fields, what some might call the geniuses of that field, almost all had daily routines. And interestingly, a number of similarities between these routines show up. So let’s look at those mentioned in the article and see how they might benefit you in your schoolwork and perhaps into your life beyond the university setting.
First up is a workspace with minimal distractions. Distractions keep you from accomplishing what you need to accomplish. They get in the way. So naturally, if you want to be productive, you need to minimize them. Being on a campus with over 11,000 students can pose a problem when you’re trying to minimize distraction, but it is still possible. You begin by finding a place where you can comfortably work. This could be a dorm room or apartment, or a table or study carrel in the library, or table in the Memorial Union, or at a computer in one of the computer clusters on campus. Hopefully it won’t be a place where you’ll be visually distracted. Then, if it’s noisy, you need to block off the sounds. Headphones playing some light music can work well. Just make sure that it’s music that blocks outside noises without distracting you.
The next routine is a daily walk. A daily walk or other exercise is important for multiple reasons. Exercise relieves stress, making you more relaxed and able to focus on the work at hand. It also makes you feel better physically. And, very importantly, it takes your mind off the work you have to do, giving you a mental break. As this New York Times article states, mental concentration is similar to a muscle. Continued mental work causes fatigue and requires a rest, a break from deep thought. And daily exercise is a great way to do that. Your best bet is to set a specific time and place for your exercise. This will create a routine, which is harder to break.
The third routine is an accountability metric. You need to hold yourself accountable to your work. Whether it’s writing a paper or studying for calculus, steady and continuous work is the most effective. And that means you need to put in time regularly, whether daily or every other day or so forth. Create a routine where you set aside a certain amount of time, or pages written, something similar. Once you have accomplished that task, you are free to move on.
Very important is seeing a clear dividing line between important work and busywork. We all have busywork, things like emails or social media postings or phone calls/texts from friends. These may seem important but we know there is a difference between returning that text and studying for that exam or writing that paper. Some people divide the day into times for real work and times for busywork. Others may turn to busywork when real work is going poorly. A good policy is to connect the important work to the previously mentioned workplace with few distractions. When you sit down to work in that good place, put aside the busywork and focus entirely on the important work. Have clear demarcations between the two.
The next routine is somewhat counter-intuitive, to stop when you’re on a roll, not when you’re stuck. We’ve all hit roadblocks in our work and decided to stop at that point. The problem is that the roadblock is often a hindrance to picking up where we left off, and can lead us to procrastinate so that we don’t have to address the difficulty. Conversely, if you stop when you’re on a roll, you will feel energized to pick up where you left off previously, since you know where you are and where you’re going with the work.
Having a supportive partner is less a routine and more an important lifestyle choice. This partner can be a romantic partner or simply a very close friend. But a good and supportive partner can lessen the load on you, help remove stress. They can be an invaluable support, both emotionally and practically. Conversely, a non-supportive partner can hinder your every move, whether by hampering your ability to focus on the important work or accentuating the importance of your busywork, causing you to question your priorities. So, be careful in your partners.
The last routine is to have a limited social life. Perhaps this is important for geniuses, but for the majority of college students, a healthy social life is invaluable. Part of the college experience is learning how to interact socially as an adult, so I strongly urge you not to overly limit your social life. But make it part of your daily routine. It should no more dominate your routine than any other aspect of your day should.
Routines are invaluable in your daily life, as they provide structure and focus to your activities. Always remember, though, that routines should serve you, you shouldn’t be a slave to them. Their purpose is to allow you to accomplish your goals and live a happy, healthy life. Accordingly, learning how to build positive routines in your life today is important for your future life as well.
How much time do you spend on tasks that don’t help you reach important goals? How often do you wait until the night before an exam to study? How many times do you let other people’s problems interfere with the things that you need to focus on? Steven Covey’s Quadrant II Time Management System utilizes four quadrants to define specific actions that people take to either further or hinder their success. Understanding these quadrants can help students harness the power of intention as well as organize their time in a purposeful way.
In Covey’s model all actions fall into four categories, depending on their importance and urgency. Actions can be:
Important actions are those which help a student achieve their goals, while urgent actions help to meet deadlines. An action is important if it makes the difference between success and failure. Sometimes things that might appear urgent are not really that important. In order to clarify the differences it will help to have a visual.
Quadrant I represents important and urgent actions that are done at the last minute under the pressure of a deadline. Quadrant II is for important actions done without the pressure of a looming deadline. Quadrant III is for unimportant actions done with a sense of urgency. Quadrant IV actions can waste valuable time, and although these may not necessarily be bad actions, they still do not help achieve goals. Quadrants III and IV are where students who feel they do not have time to study will find the time. Those in Quadrant I are most likely overcommitted in their studies, work, and family time. Quadrant II is where most students should spend their time; this is the most powerful quadrant.
In order to better understand how the quadrants work you can begin by listing specific actions you have taken in the last two days (leave off self-maintenance such as sleeping, eating, drinking, brushing teeth, etc.). For instance:
This is how those activities will look in the quadrants:
As you can see the actions in Quadrant II lead to long-term success. While the actions in Quadrant I often lead to anxiety and stress. None of us can always plan ahead, and unexpected things will happen, but the more you focus on those actions which ensure success the easier it will be to free up time to spend with friends or family and even watch an occasional Netflix movie. After all, Quadrant IV might not be the most productive, but it is the most fun.