College is undeniably one of the best experiences in a young person’s life. New friends, new freedoms, and a new start all contribute to this overwhelming beginning.

With all the new doors to be opened, however, it becomes hard to stay on top of what’s important at school. I’m not simply speaking of education either. Staying fit, socializing, working, internships, extracurriculars, and classes are all equally important in order to get the most of out college.

Over the past three years at Franklin Pierce University, I have developed a system to stay on top of things and keep myself sane while also enjoying the frills of the college life.

From a simple yet fool-proof calendar system, to a cross-platform to-do list, a time-saving routine and effective organization have helped me make the most of my college years.

While it may take some time to put the system to use, once it becomes a part of your day it will end up saving quite the headaches. Here’s how you can start:

Use a Calendar for a Solid Foundation

With classes taking up the majority of your day, hours at your part-time job getting changed weekly, as well as meetings and club events constantly being scheduled, it may become rather difficult to keep track of what’s going on, which is where having a calendar system comes in.

I have seen people keep a written agenda, a wall calendar, iCal (Mac OS X’s calendar), Windows sticky notes, and regular sticky notes with the upmost effectiveness.

Finding your preferred method can only be established through trial and error and falling into something you can easily manage.

A calendar system is important, as the number of events you will be participating and keeping track of will most certainly exceed your memory at one point or another. Calendars are also beneficial in structuring your day, and keeping tabs on your free time and availability.

Personally, I have found a rhythm using the Google app suite to create structure in college, with Google Calendar being a huge part of my productivity system.

Tim_Google_Calendar

Above is an example of how a week may be structured. As you can see, I have color coded classes, special events, work, clubs, and my gym itinerary. This helps me recognize different events at a glance and stay on top of what I need to do and where I need to go throughout the day.

In Google Calendar, you can add time, location linked to Google Maps, repeat events throughout the week, and much more. The best feature of Google Calander, though, is the ability to use it across devices, while syncing everything together.

For instance, my calendar is synced to my phone, tablet, personal computer, and work computer. No matter where I make a change they will all stay connected.

Create To-Do Lists to Keep Things in Check

Keeping a to-do list in conjunction with a calendar system is definitely a key to staying productive and keeping on top of your priorities both at college and in life. Much like the different calendar systems, to-do list systems generally consist of sticky notes, writing on skin, and setting reminders on a phone.

While these systems may work for some, for others the notes may get lost, the skin writing may wash off, and the phone may get dropped in the toilet–which is why I stuck with Google and picked up Google Keep as my to-do list manager.

Much like Google Calendar, Keep syncs across all of the devices I use and can be pulled up anywhere by just signing in to my Google account.

Tim_Google_Keep

The image above is an example of how I keep my to-do list. Color-coded, titled by subject, with the ability to set time reminders. Simple, straight forward, yet very effective. Give it a shot!

Develop Routines and Watch Your Structure Grow

Overall, the most important thing you can do is to get yourself into a routine, and stick to it! That way you know how to manage your time and what new tasks you can take on. This also helps eliminate the stress of being surprised when something is due tomorrow or you missed your shift at work.

When developing your routine, be sure to give yourself time to eat, sleep, do homework, study, hit the gym and to just have fun. Whether you wait for the weekend to roll around or you go out with the guys every Wednesday to play pool, socializing, meeting new people, and experiencing new things are some of the most important aspects of college.

As long as you stay organized, manage your time well, and keep on top of what needs to be done you will notice a huge increase in the happiness of your college experience.

Remember, college is going to be the time of your life, so stay on top of things and enjoy the long but short road ahead!