Students should use technology to stay organized

Photo courtesy of Sydney Cope

A student examines the usefulness of Outlook and phone settings for student scheduling

Jordan Scharaga

joscharaga@ursinus.edu

As a senior, I can safely say that organization at college is not only the key to success but also the key your sanity. Technology, like online calendars and reminders, can lessen stress and make time management simple. However, the way you use technology is completely dependent on your environment and community.

At Ursinus, students are constantly busy. Between the heavy workload from classes and the time demands of practices and club meetings things can seem a bit overwhelming. And if you are remotely similar to me, you might become so overwhelmed that you freeze and accomplish nothing.

In fact, the Ursinus Institute for Student Success webpage titled “Time Management” stresses the importance of making a weekly schedule as a solution to this problem. They offer a few suggestions for making a calendar including an Excel spreadsheet and using your desktop’s notes feature, which are viable digital tools for your scheduling needs.

I know when I was a freshman I was overconfident in my ability to remember every single thing on my to-do list. I soon realized that I would forget paper deadlines until the last minute or I would rush between each activity because I did not plan my time well.

While Excel and notes are okay, I would argue that at Ursinus Outlook is queen. It is the glue that holds students, faculty, staff, and administration together.  However, for scheduling and organization many of us wonder if Outlook is worth all of our adoration and exclusivity. While Outlook may not be my first choice due to the application failing to update regularly on my desktop, for an online calendar it has become a priority in staying in touch here at school.

Outlook Calendar features a section called Categories, which allows you to name and assign colors to classify what each event is in your schedule. This is really great if you are part of teams or clubs since you can assign each group its own color–if visual organization is for you.

You can also download your class calendar from Grizzly Gateway and add it to your Outlook calendar or you can manually input each class as a recurring weekly event. Either way it can help you coordinate your breaks and meal times based on your to-do list.

In addition to coordinating times to do homework or eat, you can extend this to scheduling yourself some free time. By marking your free time as busy on your calendar, you can focus on yourself and your needs rather than on your other commitments.

If you have an iPhone with your Ursinus email account logged in, you can sync-up your Outlook calendar to your phone’s calendar. Also, if you need to schedule a meeting you can check the availability of the people you are inviting if their calendar is updated.

Phone settings are also really useful for staying organized. On your phone email you can set certain email addresses as VIP and have those show up on your lock screen. Personally, each semester I edit and add contacts to my VIP list based on my professors or campus job. This offers a way to stay up to date on whether class is cancelled or if a meeting location changes.

There is no single, best way to stay organized at school, so testing out options is the only way to know what works for you. If you are a student who has trouble keeping up with your written planner or would like to condense your schedule into one place, then digitizing your calendar and schedule is the best option for you.

Technology allows you to plan events, share them with contacts, and set reminders at pivotal times during your day. In addition to learning how to write papers or conduct experiments, college is a great place to learn how to stay organized.

This time of experimentation can extend beyond creating your calendar and can help you when you leave Ursinus as well. While many of us are reluctant to change we need to use the resources available to us here and now, rather than dreaming of better systems or applications for the future.

Learning how to use technology in your environment can be useful; it is a skill that will assist you in the future as you apply for jobs or enter a new work environment. If you would like to learn how to use career-related websites and applications like Handshake or LinkedIn, you can find the information on the Career and Professional Development webpage. Their webpage includes instructions and tips about digital job searching tools and how to use them.

And if the future is too far away , then I highly recommend trying Outlook and your phone’s applications to stay organized and stress- free with your current schedule. If you could minimize the amount of stress in your life, wouldn’t you? And if you do I suggest that you embrace your technological surroundings and give applications like Outlook a chance.

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