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GTD: My View – Dealing With School Work

GTD: My View

This is Part 2 in a series of posts on getting things done. “GTD: My View” covers how I implement GTD, specifically focusing on being a student. Be sure to check out Part 1.

It’s no secret that I’m a law student. Part of my goal in blogging is to collaborate with other students on ways to be more productive. That’s one key theme of Legal Andrew.

What is a school assignment?

In my school experience, there are a couple main types of work to do: reading and projects. In virtually every class I’ve had, all of these assignments have due dates attached to them.

Reading is pretty self-explanatory. The key thing to recognize is that it is an assignment. It’s something students have to do. And, as I noted above, reading assignments have due dates by which they need to be completed.

Projects can include a variety of things. In law school there aren’t many of these, but you might have a paper, a brief, or a motion to draft. Maybe you have a speech to prepare. You get the point. As with readings, these have due dates as well.

The only other school work students do is to study. I don’t generally have to track this in my GTD system. In law school we have a single exam at the end of the semester. A student would be in trouble if he needed a reminder to study during law school exam time.

Where do assignments go?

Now that you’ve identified your school assignments, the key is how to track them in your GTD system. You might be inclined to call them “next actions” and put them on some type of “school” list. I think that’s a bad idea.

Precisely because assignments have specific due dates, they don’t belong on a list. In my opinion, that goes against the essence of GTD. Your lists shouldn’t contain date-tied tasks. Those go on your calendar.

Google Calendar

Yep, ALL my school assignments get entered on my trusty Google Calendar. I have a separate “School” calendar setup in Google, so I can color them and see school stuff quickly at a glance. My system is to put school tasks as an “all day event” on the day where they are due. When I complete the assignment, I delete the event.

The final little “hack” to my assignment system is this: I prepend every task with a couple letters to denote the class. For example, “TA” stands for Trial Advocacy.

This all works because reviewing my calendar is part of my daily review and work-flow. As students, we know that we have school assignments to do. It’s simply a matter of checking the calendar and seeing what assignments are coming up. Then I dig in and do them. The beauty of this system is that my main GTD lists stay clear of mundane school work. They have more important things to track.

If you liked this article, please check out the rest of this series below. Please feel free to comment or drop me a line.

The Series – “GTD: My View”

[tags]legal andrew, gtd[/tags]

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3 Responses to “GTD: My View – Dealing With School Work”

  1. nina
    February 17th, 2007

    since you mentioned all your “date specific” tasks go on your calendar (in reference to school), i’m wondering, do you have a lot of non-date specific school assignments? I’m asking because it seems GTD isn’t that useful for a student in that regards.

  2. Andrew Flusche
    February 17th, 2007


    I’m really glad you brought this up. Actually, GTD is incredibly useful for students. Everyone has lots of things on their plate that are not tied to specific dates.

    For example, students have papers, research, projects, etc. The calendar would have the due date for the assignment, while GTD lists would have next actions for the project. So if I have a term paper due, one next action might be “decide on topic.”

    In addition, students have normal life things, like everyone else: paying bills, house chores, personal care, shopping, etc, etc. Many of these things would go on the GTD list instead of the calendar.

    Thanks a ton for the comment. You brought up a great point.

    Take care,