I’m a university freshman this year. One of the biggest transitions has been the responsibility shift of homework. I attended a high school with a strong academic reputation. I believe this was largely due to the emphasis on homework, complete with daily checks. However, in university, there are no teachers scolding you. Non-submitted work is much easier for them to mark.
Fortunately, I found Cal Newport’s post on the GTDCS (GTD for College Students) system. In this system, he designates a project called “Weekly Assignments,” which makes each piece of homework a date-specific action. GTDCS has been critical to surviving the transition, while many of my classmates routinely let homework fall through the cracks. Following is how I’ve implemented this portion of GTDCS using Vitalist.
Step 1: Set up a “project” for each of your courses. Go to “My Projects” and add one for “Statistics”, “Sociology”, etc.
Step 2: Set up a “sub-project” for big assignments that will take more than one action (i.e. a GTD project). The example below is a presentation I need to make for my management class. Another example would be those dreaded term papers.
Step 3: Set up the dashboard to display by due date.
At the beginning of the term, I was given course outlines of all readings for each week and dates for tests and assignments.
Step 4: Set up ticklers for every assignment.
Due Date: The day it’s assigned (first day I can actually start working on it).
Context: This example problem set is one I have to submit online so it’s @computer. Context for offline assignments is a personal preference and can be whereever you usually do them.
Project: Whichever course the assignment is for (or pick the appropriate sub-project if it’s a next action relates to a big assignment).
Priority: High because this example problem set was actually worth marks. You may downgrade priority for non-marked assignments (e.g. readings).
Notes: The actual due date of the assignment.
It’s critical that you do this at the beginning of the term for every assignment you know of. This way you won’t forget about it until the night before.
So you finish attending the week’s lecture. You fire up Vitalist’s dashboard and you see your assignment for the week.
Step 5: Convert the tickler into a date and time-specific action.
Due date: The day you want to work on the assignment.
Move: Set it to Actions.
Notes: Add a note for the start and end time you allocate for the assignment.
Reminder: Optional. Instead of notes, you can set Vitalist to remind you via SMS.
Step 6: Do it!
I’d like to dedicate this first GTD Monday to Cal, whose books and blog have helped me tremendously as a student.