Tips for incoming college freshmen

Molly is currently Technology Operations Manager for Media Services and IT at Saint Xavier University in Chicago, IL. She continues to pursue freelance projects while completing her master’s in Media Communications at Webster University. As a contract writer, Molly has designed and written the content for handbooks, how-to guides, and instructional guides for corporate IT groups.

As an undergraduate, Molly published several original projects in OPUS, Saint Xavier University’s literary magazine and the Xavierite, SXU’s student newspaper. Her photography was featured in the Saint Xavier art gallery amateur art show. In December 2011, Molly was invited to speak at Saint Xavier University’s winter commencement.

Molly is a member of Sigma Tau Delta English major honors society Alpha Xi Epsilon chapter, and holds a student membership with American Copy Editor’s Society.

You wake to the sound of an alarm underneath your pillow. It’s your phone and it’s four-thirty in the morning. The room is dark. In the bed across from yours is your roommate, lightly snoring. The sun hasn’t even woken up, yet here you are, dragging yourself out of bed. Why? Because you talked yourself into getting three hours of sleep last night by promising to finish this dumb project in the morning. It’s due in three hours. So here you go.

One of the benefits of college is a relatively low-risk atmosphere where you can learn time management before going out into the world to take on a job, a life, more school, etc. But it is essential to understand that part of college is learning how to balance these things. Complaining about how much work you have to do is not going to get the work done. Trust me, I’ve been where you’ve been, and I know the little things that can make or break your degree. That’s why I started using a task priority matrix. If you want to be organized and manage your time wisely, grab your dorm room dry erase board and draw out this matrix:

Low Priority / In Progress: Use this section to list tasks that you’ve already started to work on, but that can wait 2-5 days to complete. Think about your mid-term essay due in next week—you’ve drafted the outline and done the prewriting, but you don’t need to have it finished just yet. As the deadline for these items nears, it can be upgraded to the high priority / In-Progress section.

High Priority / In Progress: Tasks that require immediate attention should be listed in this section of the matrix. This would be your online discussion posts or your book reports that are due the next day in class. When the deadline is tight (12 hours-1 day) hopefully, you have started the task!

Low Priority / Not Started: For those things that need to be done, but not for more than a week, list them in this section. Take for example your final paper. If it’s the beginning of the semester, there’s no pressure to have started it just yet, but you should definitely upgrade that to the Low Priority / In Progress section soon.

High Priority / Not Started: Let’s all say a prayer that the tasks in this section don’t stay there long. When you have 12 hours to 1-day turn around to complete a task, this section should be relatively empty most of the time.

Tips for incoming college freshmen

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