Task management-off: 3 writers, 3 ways to manage time

Early November—was it really only eight weeks ago that classes resumed in MoHi? They say time flies when you’re having fun, but right now it just feels like it’s spinning out of control.

If you have about ten thousand things you need to get done by tomorrow and don’t even know where to begin, it sounds like you need a new system of task management. Fortunately for you, we had three  Spectrumites offering up dirty details on their respective favorite modes of organization.

Are you a pencil-and-paper nut? A Google Cal fanatic? Or living on a prayer? Hopefully you’ll jive with one of them.

Ishya’s penchant for paper

I’m old fashioned: Along with my love of embroidery, I keep my life organized via an unassuming black notebook. I’d like to say it’s because I’m cool and alternative, but really, GCal just scares me.

Unfortunately not mine, as much as I’d love to pretend it is.
@plantosucceed / via Instagram


  • Aesthetic: Channel your artsy side, and make the 5,429 things you have to do today look less intimidating: washi tape, stickers, doodles, you name it. No matter how well color coded your Google Calendar is, it’ll never be this pretty.
  • No distractions: Ever opened up your laptop meaning to pop in a quick to-do and found yourself halfway through an obscure Netflix foreign language film two hours later? No risk of that here, where the only things to distract you are a myriad of deadlines. Get working!
  • Sense of satisfaction: Whether it’s that annoying paper or a never ending lab, physically crossing something off feels way more satisfying that clicking the “completed” button when it’s over.
  • Totally customizable: Want to remember your dad’s birthday? Sure. Throw in a list of to-watch TV shows? No problem. Need to doodle to stay awake in class? Have at it. Plus, unlike GCal, it’s a breeze to record events with no specific time. It’s your whole life, all in one place.


  • Risk factor: You can’t back up a notebook. If you lose it, get ready for your life to fall apart.
  • Let’s be honest: Who has the time or motivation to pretty up a basic task this much? That being said, if you do, please teach me your ways.
  • Another thing to carry: Chances are, you always have your phone with you. A choice selection of Muji pens, not so much.
  • Can’t share your schedule: Then again, do you really want your mom knowing where you are at all times?

Victoria’s GCal me maybe

I used to go old school with a physical planner, but I found that there’s really not enough space to write down everything. So, when I got to Columbia I became an instant Google Calendar convert.

I’m always glued to my phone anyway, so I thought hell, why not give me a legitimate reason? Some might say it’s not as ~aesthetic~ as Muji pens and washi tape, but I beg to differ.

After all, GCal lets you choose between 12 different colors for each event (on mobile they even have cool names, like Flamingo and Peacock).
Screen Shot 2016-10-30 at 8.43.52 PM.png
@elisanjos / via Instagram


  • Instant syncing: You never have to worry about being without your calendar since, chances are, you’ll always have some sort of electronic device at your fingertips. If not, just flag down some random passerby for theirs, and log into your email (also a great way to make friends).
  • Notifications! Never worry about missing some important lunch date or forgetting you have somewhere to be when you have GCal to remind you (it’s almost like having a second mom.)
  • Invitations: You can invite people to events so you’re all ~on the same (web) page~.
  • Easy to see conflicts: When everything is represented so visually, it’s really easy to tell where your free time is and when you have got way too much going on.
  • Use it to your heart’s desire: You can be like the person above and plan out your sleep, shower, and eating times, or keep it more low-key and just input your classes and clubs.


  • Hard to list assignments: Unlike a planner where you can just list out things under a date, it’s hard to record things that don’t have a specific time attached to them. I get around this by using Tasks, but that is not supported on mobile, and you need to get a seperate app.
  • Non-personalized: As much as you try to customize your GCal with colors, it is still pretty standard, and everyone’s looks basically the same. If that’s a huge concern, it’s probably not for you.

Veronica files & forgets

I make an honest effort to be organized, I really do. I even have a calendar in my room to keep up appearances.

Image courtesy of the Notorious VGT
But alas, we cannot all have that coveted study aesthetic, which leads me to introduce my primary mode of task management. It’s a sweet lil’ number that I’ve dubbed File & Forget.
For most people, the steps for Filing & Forgetting are easy:
  1. When someone tells you something, think, “Oh, I’ll remember that for later.” Don’t bother to write it down anywhere.
  2. Put said piece of information in back of your mind. Whip it out when need be, and hope that you haven’t forgotten anything.


  • Typical for the average student: Many of us either become too busy or just forget to update our calendars as the semester goes along.
  • Paperless: Won’t need to worry about misplacing planners or other random notes you’ve written to yourself throughout the day.
  • An integrated system: Everything’s “filed” away in one location.
  • Hard to leave anything behind: Will always have this information with you no matter where you go. Won’t be completely useless if you’ve forgotten your planner or computer back in your dorm.


  • Doesn’t suit everyone: Obviously, this method is not for everyone. You have to be confident that you’ll remember everything, otherwise you’ll end up having a lot of missed appointments.
  • A myriad of other descriptive words, not all of which are good: Disorganized, chaotic, semi-illogical?

Like these three-way competitions? We have more! Here’s one on budgeting! Ooh, and another on getting books for class! The variety! :O

Have a better task management system that you want to share with the world? Inform our writers by commenting below, messaging us on Facebook, Twitter, or Snapchatting us @CUSpectrum.

Victoria Yang is a SEAS freshman and a Spectrum staff writer. She considers it a good day when she follows more than 50 percent of what is on her GCal. Reach her at

Ishya Verma is a Barnard first-year and a Spectrum staff writer. She’s bitter that her planner isn’t pretty enough to be worthy of an Instagram. Reach her at

Veronica Grace Taleon is Spectrum’s deputy editor and a Barnard sophomore. Her parents raised her better than to have such a disorganized method of task management, but alas, here she is today. Reach her at


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