Pick a Strategy

College students have a lot to manage: they have an email inbox with a constant stream of incoming information, and once school begins they will have a course syllabus for each class that lists out due dates, deadlines, the schedule for tests/papers due, etc. Students will need to pick a strategy for how they manage their emails and course due dates/deadlines.

Summer is a great time for students to pick a strategy for how they might handle these things. Students will be held responsible for the content of emails and course syllabi (and associated action items), whether they read them or not.

There are many different philosophies on how to keep your email inbox manageable. As I often say, there is no right or wrong – just what is right for you. But the goal here is to be deliberate as you pick a strategy.

Several years ago, I was in a training class about email management and one of the suggestions was to create a folder in your inbox named .For Future Action. Putting a period before the “For” makes that folder appear at the top of your Mail folders, so you always see it.

The suggestion in the training class was to go through all your new email every day, and either act on it, delete it, or file it in .For Future Action. And then you were supposed to, at whatever regular interval suited you, go through your .For Future Action folder and take action on each email so you ‘clear’ it from your to-do list, so to speak.

Again, that is just one possible method to manage your inbox. The key here is to pick a strategy that works for your life.

Similarly, students will have to employ some sort of time management strategy to keep track of due dates and deliverables for all courses. For some students, that might be a paper planner. For others, it may be Google calendar reminders, a whiteboard in their room to keep track of due dates, etc. Again, the method needs to suit the student; the important thing is to be intentional and pick a strategy that you can use consistently.

Before the hustle-bustle of the semester begins, your Deacs might want to give some thought to their strategy of choice.

— by Betsy Chapman, Ph.D. (’92, MA ’94)