Time-blocking over to-do lists

There’s a massive difference between being busy and being productive. It’s one thing to spend hours sitting at a desk “working” on homework and getting things crossed off your list. When I first started law school, I thought writing out a long list of assignments to do was helpful for me. However, I quickly realized that it only put stress on me to check off the boxes, and I rarely got everything done on that list. I would spend hours sitting at a desk trying to finish all of my work and then realize I only got two out of 10 things done in a matter of three hours. There never seemed to be enough time in the day to get everything I wanted to get done, including chores and having time for myself.

I found myself overwhelmed with to-dos, and I ended up not doing any of them. I learned a new method of organization called time-blocking. Time-blocking is a method of scheduling a certain amount of time on specific tasks throughout the day. The goal of this method is to allow you to focus on one particular task at a time without distractions. It is very easy to get distracted with social media, replying to emails or texts, or falling down the rabbit hole of the latest BuzzFeed quizzes. Trust me, this has been the most helpful scheduling method I’ve ever used.

The first and only step is to use an electronic calendar and block out as much time you think will need for every task, including: getting ready, driving to and from school and even the much-needed scheduled naps! This will force you to get everything done in the time you’ve allotted. The key to this method is being strict with yourself. If you’ve set one hour to read for Criminal Law, then you have to try and get it done within one hour. This means that leaves little time is left for surfing the web and being on your phone. I recommend putting your phone on silent or “Do Not Disturb.” Don’t forget to schedule breaks in between tasks – this is crucial to not burning yourself out.

Time-blocking isn’t a method that works for everyone, but I’ve found it the most helpful out of all of the things I have tried before. This method helps me not feel extremely overwhelmed by giving me the time I need to “check off the boxes” and be productive with school and social life.

— Valeria Carbajal is a 1L from El Paso, Texas and a KU Law Student Ambassador.