Tech Tools To Boost Your MBA Productivity

5. Schedule Your Classes in the Calendar (Google Calendar)

Now, you should create calendar appointments for class and group meetings. You have taken a big step to invest in yourself with your MBA, so you should use the calendar to help you stay committed with your time. When you block off your commitments on the calendar, it helps you stay accountable to get work done, prioritize class, and set boundaries with your time.

I use the Google Calendar; however, you can also use Microsoft Outlook or Apple iCal applications. Or if you prefer physical, then buy an agenda or planner. I enjoy using a digital calendar app, as I can set up notifications to be reminded when it is time for class. If you have to walk to a class on campus, the app can add in travel time. Also, the Google Calendar app integrates well with video conferencing software (Zoom), Google Drive for course notes, and Gmail for scheduling appointments.

I logged into my Tepper Gmail accounts and navigated to my Google Calendar. For my Managerial Economics class, I took these steps to create appointments:

1. Create a new event in Google Calendar.

2. Write in the class name (ex. Managerial Economics) in “Add title.”

3. Set the time of the class and repeat as necessary (ex. Thursday at 6:45 PM).

4. Copy in the videoconferencing hyperlinks (Zoom) from the course website in “Add location”.

5. Set alerts (notifications or emails about 15 min before) to remind you to be ready.

6. Add the following information in the description:

6A. Link to your Class Notes Google Document

6B. Link to the course website

6C. Important information from the Syllabus (keep this short)

7. Save the event.

6. Create To-Dos for Assignments, Quizzes, or Exams (Todoist)

Many people will use their calendar to track individual task due dates for assignments, quizzes, or exams, but I recommend against that. You should use the calendar for time-based events that have to get done on a specific time and day. For task-based events that can get done whenever, you should use a to-do application.

My tool of choice is Todoist. However, you can use Apple Reminders, Microsoft To Do, or Google Task. If you prefer physical, then I would recommend creating a list of to-do’s in your planner or using the Bullet Journal method.

1. Refer to the course website (ex. Canvas Assignments) or the Syllabus to get information on the tasks that need to get done for class.

2. Create a project for your class (ex. Managerial Economics) in your do-do application.

3. Add important information (ex. Todoist comments) to the project:

3A. Link to the Course Google document

3B. Link to the course website

3C. Link to the videoconferencing hyperlink (Zoom)

3D. Important information from the Syllabus

4. Within the project, create tasks for each assignment, case study exam, etc.

4A. Set the due date and time for when you have to turn it in.

4B. Set reminders for when you want to start working on it.

4C. Set priority levels depending on the importance of the task.

4D. Create comments for task-specific information.

7. Setup Your Email Inbox (Gmail)

Last, you need to get a hold of your emails. Getting emails into your inbox is inevitable, so you can set up your inbox to help you store and file the emails relevant to the class you are taking. When we keep our inbox unorganized, emails can get lost or deleted, and you will be wasting time trying to find an email from a project team, assignment, or important exam information.

You will probably not have a choice for the type of inbox (Gmail, Outlook, etc.), as it is provided by your university. However, you can set up your email setting to be forwarded or accessed on another email account, phone, or desktop. I am glad that Carnegie Mellon uses Gmail, as it integrates well with the other Google tools and the Todoist app. I recommend downloading the “Todoist for Gmail” extension to add emails as tasks. This will help you clear emails into to-do’s that you can take action on later.

1. Create a folder or label for the class (ex. Managerial Economics).

2. Filter all mail for this class by creating rules that automatically moves the mail from the inbox straight to the class folder/label. Below are some example filters

2A. Includes the class name (ex. Managerial Economics) in the subject

2B. From the professor’s (ex. Fallaw Sowell) or TA’s email account

3. Check the folder or label regularly when there are new emails or looking for old emails.

8. Use and Maintain Your Productivity System

After implementing your productivity system and tools, trust the system and tools that you have put into place. To recap, there should be a tool for storing files, taking notes, scheduling appointments, tracking tasks, and checking emails. Using the right tools will help you keep track of your assignments and achieve better grades.

Also, you should review your tools and processes on a regular basis to maintain your productivity system. Every week, review your calendar and task lists to understand what you need to get done that week. Every semester, conduct a larger review of your system to get clear on unprocessed actions, get current on ensuring it works, and get creative on improving it for the future.

Having a productivity system and tools for your MBA will keep you focused and have a proactive mindset about getting things done. If you want to learn more about the Getting Things Done system by David Allen, check out my book summary or get your own copy here.

Dev Chandra is a Part-Time MBA student at Carnegie Mellon University. He also is a Naval Officer stationed in Arlington, VA. This past year, Dev started a company called “The Process Hacker” to help entrepreneurs unleash their productivity and make more of a positive impact in their world.

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