LC Goal Tracker
By a Learning Center Peer Tutor
With the shift to remote learning, it has been extremely hard to prioritize my plans. Instead of following through on my academic goals, I often end up spending time with my family, watching shows on Netflix, or even browsing through my emails.
Knowing that I had a midterm approaching, I decided it was time to break this cycle and search for tools to increase my productivity. I went to the Learning Center website and found the Goal Tracker, which let me set goals and reflect on my progress over three days. At the end of these three days, I was able to complete most of my goals, reflect on what strategies worked well, and adjust strategies that weren’t working for me.
Day 1: Plan
In the first part of the worksheet, I had to write my goals for the first day and list them in order of priority. I’m used to seeing my goals in alphabetical order on my online calendar, so prioritizing them was a new technique for me. I decided that my top priority was to work on a practice exam my professor had given us, my second goal was to review my notes, and my final goal was to rewrite my notes on a separate sheet. Although it was important for me to achieve all of these goals that day, listing them in order of priority gave me a sense of direction I was not used to.
In the second part of the worksheet, I had to check off the goals as I met them and write down any notes I had about my progress. Physically writing a checkmark next to each goal I accomplished was really satisfying. Even though I did not have time to finish everything, I could write a note next to a problem that I wanted to revisit later.
The reflect section prompted me to think about what went well, what didn’t go well, and what I learned. I was pleased that I was able to accomplish my goals and sleep confidently knowing I had the knowledge to ace my exam. However, I went to bed an hour later than planned because I decided to take a break for dinner that ended up lasting two hours. As I reflected on what I learned, I realized that it didn’t feel worth it to take such a big break and relax when it meant that I had less time to sleep.
This reflection was really important for me because sometimes I will do something detrimental to my studying and, if I don’t pay attention, I end up doing it again. Now that I’ve actually written down and reflected on my major obstacles, I remember them better, and I feel more prepared to confront them when I am studying for future exams.
Days 2 & 3
For the next day, my goals, in order, were to take the midterm, respond to an email, complete the guided reading question for my biology class, and read a chapter of my physics book. I only ended up completing my first two goals of the day. As I completed the reflection part of the worksheet, I realized I was feeling burnt out from studying for a long time on Day 1 and from taking an exam on Day 2. My major takeaway was that it is okay to change my plans as long as I am still being productive and enjoying myself. Plus, I could add the goals I did not accomplish to my plan for day 3.
On day 3, reading my physics chapter was my last goal of the day, and once again, I did not get to that goal. As I reflected, I realized I was procrastinating on this goal, so I made a point of making it my top priority on the fourth day of studying. I also discovered that I struggle with completing tasks that are smaller and not as time-specific.
Overall, I really enjoyed the Goal Tracker worksheet, which encouraged me to plan ahead and allowed me to reflect on and prioritize my goals. I typically enjoy planning one week at a time, so the next time I use the goal tracker I might expand it to capture seven days worth of goals instead of three. Adding in an extra tool improved my time management skills and helped me avoid procrastination. Hopefully, I can find a way to extend this way of studying to the rest of my week or even the entire month!
This blog showcases the perspectives of UNC Chapel Hill community members learning and writing online. If you want to talk to a Writing and Learning Center coach about implementing strategies described in the blog, make an appointment with a writing coach or an academic coach today. Have an idea for a blog post about how you are learning and writing remotely? Contact us here.