Staying on Track: The Importance of Time Management and Organization

February 26, 2018

When I started college, 8 years had passed since I was in high school. It was obvious to me that I needed to get back into the swing of things, and as quickly as I possibly could. My first few semesters were absolute chaos and I cried a lot. I mean, ugly crying. I felt so unorganized and out of place. I wondered if I really belonged in a University. I was typing all of my notes down on my laptop. I had all the information verbatim in my computer. How could I not be doing well? I couldn't figure it out. I felt helpless. 


But I wasn't going to give up. After my spring semester in 2013, it was incredibly obvious I needed to do something different than surviving on coffee and very little sleep. While this is the normal state for most college students, I was determined to prove it doesn’t have to be that way. I decided to start eating better over that summer, I started keeping a routine. I woke up at the same time, exercised, ate three meals a day and slept 8 hours a night.  After doing this all summer, the new semester came. The week before school started, I went to buy my books. After I had gathered all the important stuff, I noticed a shelf by the checkout stand that had planners on it.  


I decided that buying a planner couldn’t hurt.  


This, changed my life.  At first, I wrote in it with simple black ink. Boring, yes, but it was a far cry away from my disheveled state in prior semesters. The first half of the semester flew by, and I was getting much better grades. This was because I wasn’t forgetting assignments anymore.


I was WRTING THEM DOWN!!!  My note taking also got better once I realized that writing things down was a must.  I color coded all of my classes. For one class, everything was pink, the next yellow, and so on. This improved my life so much that I swore by planners and writing everything down. My GPA sky rocketed. My professors respected my ideas because they were finally well put together.  


This is when I realized, one can type memos and notes all day long, but nothing replaces writing down assignments and note taking. 


study conducted in 2014 by Daniel M. Oppenheimer and Pam Mueller of UC Los Angeles and Princeton University states, "The studies we report here show that laptop use can negatively affect performance on educational assessments, even—or perhaps especially—when the computer is used for its intended function of easier note taking. Although more notes are beneficial, at least to a point, if the notes are taken indiscriminately or by mindlessly transcribing content, as is more likely the case on a laptop than when notes are taken longhand, the benefit disappears. Indeed, synthesizing and summarizing content rather than verbatim transcription can serve as a desirable difficulty toward improved educational outcomes" (8). 

What? No Way. I am vindicated by science!  


What this study tells us is that those who write notes are more likely to think critically about the information given to them and put the information into a way that they will remember it without wasting time, by avoiding dictating the instructor verbatim. When we make something “ours”, we are more likely to hold on to that idea in our head. This study proves the point that I made to myself in college Sophomore year. A planner doesn't need to be charged nor does it forget to remind you if the notification for your appointment or assignment doesn't sound. Technology has many wonderful benefits, but it can't tell you what you need to know by simply opening up to the correct page.  


Mueller and Oppenheimer continue, "longhand note takers engage in more processing than laptop note takers, thus selecting more important information to include in their notes, which enables them to study this content more efficiently" (8).  



So, if this applies to note taking, it absolutely is applicable in a planner. The act of writing itself is what makes the student in these studies more organized. I can look at the calendar on my computer all day and still have to check and recheck. If we write it down, we will always have a point of reference on our person and we will remember it.