Using Evernote

How Task Management Can Help You Stay on Top of Your Schoolwork

The chaotic world of homework, term papers, and exams is enough to make any student’s head spin. But whether it’s “Intro to Algebra” or “Advanced Theories in Macroeconomics,” a robust task management app will help ease the stress by consolidating your daily tasks into one coherent list, making both your tasks and your life easier to manage.

Protect your energy

Task management apps allow you to manage your to-do lists from your phone, tablet, or laptop. So why burn unnecessary energy organizing your day with colored pencils and sticky notes when an app can make it easier? With an assortment of in-app tools, task management apps help you organize and prioritize your day-to-day tasks, freeing up your energy and your time.

Prioritization is an important skill to master. Students may have multiple tasks looming, ranging from one-page assignments to group projects. Knowing what to tackle in order of priority will simplify the task management process considerably.

With a task management app, you’re cutting out the short bursts of energy that come from day-to-day planning. For example, losing a to-do list is no longer an issue. With everything stored safely in the cloud, you can access it all on any device, to keep your mind focused on what’s important.

And what happens when you use the last page of a physical notebook? Task management apps never run out of paper. As obvious as that may sound, it’ll save you time and energy in the long run.

Save time with a task manager

You can always use a little more time—for fun, for play, for anything else outside of work or school. Task management apps help you save time by prioritizing and directing your attention where it’s needed.

It’s easy to get sucked into writing a paper or researching a project, and the next thing you know, several hours have passed and you haven’t made any substantial progress. Task management apps help you see the big picture, giving you a bird’s-eye view of everything on your plate. That helps you allocate your time more effectively, so you can avoid the dreaded ‘all-nighter.’ If that term paper isn’t due until next week, put an hour into it today, schedule another hour for tomorrow, and before you know it, you’ll be done.

Scheduling breaks into your task management app also helps you go the distance. Think of your scheduled break as something to work toward throughout the day—a goal, if you will. Taking random breaks whenever you want can throw off your routine, eating into your productivity. And while it’s healthy to step away for a few minutes, especially after staring at a computer screen for too long, it’s important to schedule those breaks in your calendar to ensure they help rather than hinder you.

Task management apps also enable you to determine what to do next. Say you have a handful of assignments in front of you. After completing one, it can become a toss-up as to which project you’ll tackle next. Organizing these assignments in your task management app solves that problem for you. Now, you’ll seamlessly transition between assignments without worrying about what to do next. Most importantly, you’re tackling high-priority tasks without really thinking about it. Future-you will appreciate it more than present-you will ever know.

Focus on the things that matter

Due dates will follow you for the rest of your life, so prioritizing your tasks based on due dates is the best practice. There’s no need to stress about something due in two weeks; something due in 48 hours is more important. Getting that done today allows a 24-hour buffer in case you need to make last-minute edits or changes.

Mark Twain famously said, “If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.” For students, the ‘frog’ is usually an assignment due the next day or even that afternoon. You don’t want to put it off in favor of less important tasks.

The frog may also be your most time-consuming assignment. Since you have the most mental energy early in the day (before you’ve begun tackling smaller assignments), it’s best to focus on large-scale projects between breakfast and lunch.

Your class schedule is your largest barrier to work around, as you can’t (or shouldn’t!) focus on other assignments while in the middle of a lecture. High school students are occupied from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. with small windows in between to get homework done, so having your app set and ready to go when you get home is vital to completing your most important homework. College students have more leeway as their weekly class schedule fluctuates. They can utilize their free time between classes to focus on assignments—a necessity if they’re also working after school.

Beyond school, proper time management allows more room for your personal and social life. Visualizing your entire day makes it easy to spot pockets of time for leisure. Staying on track and working on your projects in order can get them done faster. The only question then becomes, “What to do with all this free time?”

Power tip: Sort your tasks in Evernote by note or due date, and use filters to see only what you need. Use flags to distinguish between urgent tasks and those you can work on later. Get reminders when a task needs your attention, even when you’re not in the app. And the best part? Changes you make to your tasks update instantly across every view, on all your devices.

Beat procrastination and pointless multitasking

You’ve probably heard the phrase, “work smarter, not harder.” Task management apps move you into the ‘smart’ zone fast by allowing you to categorize tasks by importance and type. This also helps defeat procrastination, because now, you are holding yourself accountable.

It’s easy to put things off when they’re not written down. However, it’s hard to ignore your task management app notifications alerting you to upcoming deadlines and incomplete tasks. While task management apps can make back to school less stressful, a great deal still depends on YOU!

Sometimes, students try to do too much. They think multitasking is helping when it’s actually hurting. For example, you’re not helping yourself by working on math homework while reviewing slides from your language class lecture. Task management apps allow you to see the big picture. If you’ve plotted the entire week, you’ll understand how procrastinating on one project throws a monkey wrench in your entire plan.

Power tip: Use Evernote’s weekly planner template to plot out your tasks and activities for the week. Customize it with color-coding, checkboxes, and even emojis to make it your own space and help you see your priorities at a glance.

All work and no play—no more

While task management apps help prioritize and organize projects, they also allow for scheduled breaks. We’ve touched on the importance of breaks earlier, but how you spend this free time determine how effective they are.

The Pomodoro Technique, coined by Francesco Cirillo, emphasizes timers and breaks to boost concentration and lower stress levels. Set a timer for 25 minutes (which equals one “pomodoro”), work without interruption, then take a five-minute break before starting again. After four sessions, take a longer break. You can do something quick and enjoyable during your small breaks, like grab a snack or check your phone. Your long break is your cooldown session, your reset. Go for a walk, catch up on some reading, or even lay down for a little.

Don’t fill these breaks with other tasks or chores. The point of a break is to do something to balance out the work/play mood. If you use your breaks to work on something else, you’re ultimately defeating the purpose.

Power tip: Evernote’s calendar widget makes it easy to manage your pomodoros. Set aside time in your schedule, then link notes containing your study materials to the event. The app will remind you when it’s time to start working, and you can open your note with a single click to hit the ground running.

Task management apps put your to-do list in the palm of your hand. You can organize and prioritize your most important assignments with a system of flags, due dates, and reminders, while relying on in-app notifications to keep you on track.

Staying on schedule allows more time for fun and relaxation, and knowing you’ve gotten your most important assignments done early makes the rest of the day significantly more enjoyable. As long as you can keep the procrastination bug at bay, an effective task management app will help you hack your coursework and earn that ‘A’ grade.

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