By Debby-Esmeé de Vlugt
I remember coming home after visiting UCR for the first time in 2012 and telling my parents I would never be able to attend an honors college like this. I was very impressed with the school and I wanted to apply, but I thought it was impossible for me to succeed at everything that was expected of its prospective students. For many students who decide to come to our university, the workload is indeed too much. I have seen many students dropping out over the past two years, and feel like those who stay are constantly stressed. It is very difficult to find a balance between everything that has to be done, including board positions, attending classes, jobs, homework, sports, sleeping, going to parties, cooking, and so forth.
How can we deal with this large amount of tasks? I have tried several ways over the past two years. Like most others, I started by writing everything down in a diary. The idea is to keep a clear overview of assignments, meetings, deadlines, and events, but I gave up on this system after a while. Diaries do not allow you to make a lot of changes in your schedule, because the overview will become too chaotic. Instead, I switched to daily, weekly, and monthly charts, which is the system that most people recommended to me. If you manage to stick to your schedule throughout the day, you can get a lot of tasks done. However, I realized that this way of planning is extremely difficult, and I often only achieved a few goals that I set for the day. Whenever I lost track of time for a second or two, it became impossible to keep up with the rest.
If you are anything like me in this regard, I might have the perfect solution for you. Last semester, one of my professors, Dr. Rensma, introduced a time management system to me which is called ‘Getting Things Done’. The method is based on a book by David Allen, and it teaches people to keep track of what they need to do through lists. Lots and lots of to-do lists. The goal of these lists is to keep your head clear and organized, and it actually works. I used to be stressed all the time, but I cannot recall one more stressful moment since I started working with it. Can you imagine not being stressed at UCR? Sounds like a dream, right?
To make these lists, Dr. Rensma told us to use a website/smartphone app called Wunderlist. By using a phone, you will always have your to-do’s with you, and you can add tasks as soon as you think of them. Wunderlist allows you to make many lists for different things, add deadlines to tasks, share lists with other Wunderlist users (which is great if you are in a board or committee), send yourself reminders, and so forth. It takes about ten minutes to organize your Wunderlist in the morning, but it keeps you organized throughout the day.
Many students were enthusiastic about the method after Dr. Rensma introduced it in class last semester, so he decided to organize a workshop on it with the Study Skills Center. Here, he will explain exactly which lists to make and how to work the Getting Things Done method into your daily routine. The workshop will be on Wednesday February 25th, from 11:00 to 13:00. You can sign up via http://ucrskills.nl/. I recommend going to the workshop, because you will get a visual example of what Wunderlist looks like and what exactly you can do with it. There are only 25 spots available, so sign up as soon as you can! If you are unable to attend, it is also possible to read the Wunderlist handout on the same website under ‘Downloads’.
Debby-Esmeé de Vlugt, class of 2016, is a Social History, Religious Studies, and Philosophy major from Harderwijk, the Netherlands.