To have a successful semester (and a successful life) being organized makes a difference.  Here is one tip that will help you on your way.

Estimate how long the items on your to-do list are going to take.

I’ll tell you right now that you will not do a great job on your estimates – and that’s OK. It still makes a difference. So starting on tomorrow’s to-do list, I want you to write how long you *think* it is going to take to complete the task right next to the task you have written. You can do this whether you use a paper to-do list or a digital one. If your to-do list says,

  • Letter of recommendation and you think it will take 30 minutes, write that.
  • Grade lab reports from Monday’s class and you think it will take you an hour, write that.
  • Return the phone calls related to the survey we’re conducting, and you imagine that it will get done in 45 minutes, write that.

You would be smart to do two things in addition to writing your estimate.

  1. Add up all your estimated time and see if it is even possible to fit in 3 ½ hours’ worth of work in your already-full day. So that’s one ah-ha.
  2. Secondly, double your time estimates and you *might* be closer to the actual time.

This is a HUGE tip and I hope you institute it on tomorrow’s to do list.

Remember that in order to help you have a successful semester and a compelling career, I created a step-by-step strategies guide The Compendium of Productivity Tips for Professors that you can access and download right away.


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