In this video, I’ll share how I get organized and stay on top of my assignments for my part-time grad school program.
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**** A truncated transcript follows. A full transcript can be found at https://www.marblejar.net/blog/2017/11/15/get-organized-for-online-learning-using-toodledo-and-google-calendar. ****
Hi, everyone! This is Lara Hammock from the Marble Jar channel and in today’s video, I’ll share how I get organized and stay on top of my assignments for my part-time grad school program.
First of all, let me just say that although my life seems hectic to me, it is no where NEAR what some of my fellow students are experiencing. There are lots of folks who are part-time students, working full time, and raising small children, some of them as single parents. Hats off to them. That said, I think my methodology could be helpful for anyone — regardless of how crazy your schedule is.
I started grad school this fall, so I’m still working through some of the tools I’m using. I started out with a different organizing system than the one I use for everyday life and promptly discarded it after a couple of months. Life is too crazy to have to check multiple systems. If you’ve seen any of my ADHD videos, you’ll know that I use Toodledo for a task list and Google Calendar for scheduling. As long as you have tools that perform these tasks, even if they are not the ones I use, this system should work for you. And yes, even though it seems duplicative, you need to use both a calendar and a task list — they perform different functions and back each other up. Oh, and these systems only work if you actually look at them every day, so that is a good habit to start building.
I’m in a hybrid distance education program. That means most of our studies are done at home. Because I’m not expected to attend class weekly or twice weekly, I don’t have regular in-person reminders of assignments, so I have to keep on top of things on my own. Each class operates on a different weekly schedule: one runs Monday to Sunday, the other Thursday to Wednesday. But both of my classes have three components:
* Weekly reading, lectures, and deliverables
* Smaller one-off assignments
* Large assignments (like papers or projects)
I spend a couple of hours at the beginning of the semester reading the syllabus and getting organizing. Here’s what I do for each of these class components.
Weekly reading, lectures, and deliverables
In almost every distance learning class, there is reading to be done each week. Sometimes professors will have you watch a lecture or listen to some narrated PowerPoint slides as well. In both of my classes, there is a weekly writing assignment to be posted on a discussion board and there is a requirement later in the week to respond to other students posts. I’m a creature of habit and tend to do much better with a weekly routine. So, at the beginning of the semester, I take a look at the syllabus and estimate how long it will take to complete those weekly tasks. I might have to adjust this after the first couple of weeks of classes. So, let’s say I determine it will take 4 hours to do the reading and watch the lectures, 2 hours for my writing assignment, and 1 hour to respond to my classmates.
* Google Calendar – Now I look at my calendar and block that time off for the first week. I’ll do 3 hours of reading on Monday night, 1 hour of reading + 2 hours of writing on Wednesday night. Then, I’ll respond back to posts for an hour on Saturday afternoon. Now I make all of those appointment reoccur weekly — so that is my routine for this class. I’ll try not to plan anything that conflicts with this school work time. And if it does, I’ll make sure to move it to another night.
* Toodledo – Okay — now I also add these generic tasks to Toodledo under a specific tag — we’ll call it Class 1 — using the same dates that I used on the calendar. I need to set these tasks to repeat weekly as well. Toodledo helps me to see all of the tasks that I have for this class together. If I failed to complete something, Toodledo will continue to remind me until it is done and I’ve checked it off.
* Weekly Planning Task – Now I put in one very important weekly repeating task for the start of each week. This task reminds me to look at the syllabus to determine the specific assignments for that week. I leave the blocks of time on my calendar generic, but each week I change the Toodledo tasks to show specifically what needs to be done. For example, instead of reading, I change it to read chapter 10. Instead of writing, I’ll put in Write Discussion Board 8 and the put instructions in the notes. I have a recurring to do item to change the names of these tasks each week. . .
**** Read a full transcript at www.marblejar.net. ****