There is only one way that I survive life as a college student: Lists. I’m in five different classes, I’m the associate producer for one of Trinity’s TV shows, I write for this site, and just like every other college kid, I have to occasionally buy toothpaste and face wash. My life would be a hot mess if I didn’t make lists of all of things that I needed to get done. If an assignment doesn’t make it onto my list because I forget to write it down, it will not get done.
 
As a list-aficionado, I am always looking for new tricks to make my list-making skills even more efficient, so when I came across these two great articles about lists, I was eager to try out the tips. Here are some of the tips that I found the most helpful and some that I myself use every day to keep my life in order.
 

Plan Ahead

At the end or beginning of each day, I take about 10-15 minutes to sit at my desk and make a list of things that I need to get done that day. Doing this mentally prepares me for the day ahead and gives me an idea of how much work I’m going to have to do that day. This way I’m not surprised by any assignments that may have slipped to the back of my mind. It’s a good habit to get into and it will generally make you a more organized person.

 

Choose the Right Tool

My “tool” of choice is a beat-up little fat spiral notebook. It’s easy to bulldog old pages back so it’s easy to find today’s list. However, not all people may like to use a spiral. Some people prefer their phones, others perhaps a Moleskin notebook. Even others may like to wait until they get back to their room and use a whiteboard. Figure out what your works best for you. Each tool has their own pros and cons. Try out one of each for a few days and see what suits you.
 

Prioritizing, Dividing, and Conquering

This is obvious, but prioritizing is a skill that takes a long time to hone and learn. I try to get done at least one thing for each class every day. I often break my workload up into segments. So if I have to read 100 pages for a book by Friday, I’ll read 25 pages Monday night through Thursday night. I do the same thing with essays: On Monday, I’ll draft an outline, Tuesday, I’ll write the introduction and first paragraph, and so on. It makes work much more manageable to do it in small chunks.
 
If your list becomes overwhelming, you’ll need to know how to determine what is the least important thing on your list—something that you can just cross off and say, “Not today.” For new college students, the skill of prioritizing can be a learning curve, but once you master it, work won’t seem so overwhelming.
 

Create Separate Lists

I have three separate to do lists. I know, it may seem excessive, but there is a method to my madness. My first to do list is my daily to do list. I keep this list in my fat little spiral and it stays in my backpack. When a professor mentions an assignment or anything else important, down in my spiral it goes.
 
I also have a to do list on a sticky note taped to my desk of all of the things that I need to accomplish this week. I write this list up on Sunday night, and mentally prepare a timeline of when I’m going to get all of these things done. Doing this helps me plan a little bit more long term than just my daily to do list.
 
Finally, I have a to do list on another sticky note of major, major things that I need to be thinking of. This list usually comes out around midterms and finals. Right now, it has things like final projects and papers that are going to take more time than just a few days to complete. By having this list at my desk, I can remind myself what I still have left to finish by the end of the semester. It’s also a lot more rewarding to cross things off that list.
 

Reward Yourself

This is an interesting tip that I read about today and I will definitely be using it in my future lists. To help make your lists seem less daunting, schedule in some rewards for yourself to do along the way after you finish certain tasks. Take a coffee or snack break, go for a walk, call a friend, or whatever it is that will break up the work on your list.

 

What are some tips and tricks you use to help make your list efficient? Let us know in the comments!