Strategies for Time Management

This is my seventeenth year of schooling, and I like to think that at this point I have learned some tools of the trade. 🙂 Over the years I have experimented with a few different ways of managing my schedule, which I have outlined in order that my experience might help people who are struggling with their own turbulent schedules.

1. Bullet Journal

The only thing that kept my sophomore year of college in any sort of order was my bullet journal. This particular strategy is most effective for those that function better with analog methods than any sort of technology. The website hyperlinked above can explain with more detail, but a bullet journal is essentially a notebook that helps you keep track of both long term and short term goals. One can buy the fancy and tailored notebooks that the creators of the bullet journal sell, but I personally used a simple purple moleskin from my college bookstore. A bullet journal is catered to the needs of the user. I personally used mine to keep track of my homework, my paid work, commitments for clubs and organizations that I participated in, as well as fitness and food tracking. With my bullet journal I was able to keep up with my daily and monthly goals, and in addition to its practice uses in my behavior tracking, I could use it to take notes in class when I forgot my normal notebook, or even just personal writing that came to me in a given moment.

“Talia, wait” I can hear you asking “If you liked using this bullet journal system so much, why did you stop?”

My sophomore year of college ended abruptly, as mono, combined with multiple concussions, meant that I could not participate in my classes properly, and had to end the semester early. Stuck in an incoherent haze, there were a few months of my life where I couldn’t do much more than sleep and listen to audio books. Once I finally recovered it was summer, and while I was taking one class, as well as finishing up the courses I had to take an incomplete on before I could start my junior year, I simply didn’t have the energy to restart my bullet journal again. That summer was one in which I was particularly worn out, still recovering from my concussion, and while I muddled through, I haven’t used the same method of bullet journaling since.

2. Digital Note-taking (OneNote, Evernote, or Similar)

When I stopped using my bullet journal, I didn’t stop using physical notebooks (see section four) But I did up my digital note-taking game. My favorite application for digital note-taking is Microsoft’s OneNote. Using OneNote without the Office 365 subscription, limits its functionality, though I am not sure how much since I do have a subscription and didn’t start using it until I added the student discounted plan to my computer. If one can afford to get the Office suite, I recommend it, and if not, that’s OK, because there are other digital note-taking services out there. Before I got a Office subscription I used Evernote, which has a tiered system, but Evernote Basic is free of charge and usable. I used Evernote before I got the Office Subscription for OneNote, and I never had any serious problems with it. Evernote has similar features to OneNote,, but the basic (free) account limits how many devices you can install Evernote on to two, which wouldn’t work for me since I use OneNote on both of my computers, my tablet, and my phone. Evernote basic also limits offline access to desktop only, which is not ideal since it means that if one was in a dead zone without Wi-Fi the application wouldn’t work.

The great thing about OneNote (and Evernote) is that you can divide the app in to separate notebooks, which are individually stored on the cloud, so while they are all completely accessible online, some can be removed from the computer, tablet, or phone to save space, but still within reach with Wi-Fi. I typically create a new notebook each semester to keep track of classwork and current projects, with a separate section for each class and each short-term personal project. I also keep a master to-do list, bullet journal style. OneNote is the application that I use to save draft emails, keep track of long-term assignments, as well as writing projects. In fact, Word-for-Sense even has a whole notebook dedicated to it. That said, one thing that I don’t use OneNote for is daily, weekly, and monthly agenda tracking for which I use…

3. Google Calendar (Or Similar)

Free with a Google account, Google calendar is my go-to for when I want to keep track of a doctor’s appointment, track when I’ve made lunch or meeting plans, and especially when I block out time for studying. Just as important as putting in what time I have to be in the classroom is scheduling what time I need to be in the library. An important part of making sure that my time is used wisely is knowing when and where I am going to be and what I am going to be doing there. For example, I do my best to schedule at least an hour of Latin practice every day, because with languages, especially in the beginning, memorizing and internalizing the basics is crucial. At the same time, I know that in addition to my school and professional work, I need to have a creative outlet and so a minimum of 15 minutes a day is spent on a creative writing project, even if it is just adding a paragraph or two to a blog post like this one. All that said, leaving wiggle room is also important, and while planning is crucial, setting aside a couple hours a week where one has time to themselves is also essential.

4. Physical Agenda

While I no longer bullet journal, I do make sure that I have a physical journal, because there are some places in life that a computer or phone is either impractical or prohibited. For example, over the eight semesters I spent in undergrad, I can count on one hand with fingers left over how many professors did not appear somewhere on the spectrum between snarky comments about texting during class and outright banning the use of electronic devices in their classrooms. A physical agenda is the easiest way to keep track of what homework assignments are due when, and marking one days of the month I have an exam, presentation, or paper due. Keeping track of those is very important. There was one semester where on a particular day I had a test, an essay due, and a short story due all on the same day. Since I knew ahead of time, I was able to negotiate with my professors to shift the due date of my essay and short story, and thus I gave myself more breathing room in terms of what I was focusing on each day.

5. Not Sleeping

This is a bad idea. Even though it worked when I was younger, ever since my concussion I need seven to eight hours of sleep every night, and I have to say that I’m more productive when I do get my rest. That said, if one does insist on not sleeping a full night, I recommend the following:

6. In Bed Early, Out of Bed Early

Some people are night owls, and I respect that. I used to be one too. That said, I was astonished when I realized how much I can get done in the wee hours, not by staying up into them, but by going to bed as early as nine, and waking up as early as one or two. Staying up for an extra two hours, I could maybe get fifty, sixty pages of reading done and perhaps a two or three paragraphs of an essay. Waking up two hours early, that would be more like a hundred pages of reading and at least five more paragraphs.


I hope that my listing some of these key strategies that I employ will be helpful, and if anyone would like further advice or assistance, as I noted before, helping people with their problems helps me with mine, so feel free to comment or send me a message through the contact form.




P.S. For those who may want tutorials on study skills in general, I suggest watching and internalizing the Crash Course Study Skills videos, and especially as it pertains to this post, their episode about Planning & Organization, which I watched about a year ago and while most of what I have talked about here was stuff I already knew, the video undoubtedly shaped some of the ideas in this post, for all that I had not watched it again until after I finished writing this.

On Academic Intersections: Knowledge Stacks

One of my favorite things about taking multiple classes in different disciplines is how everything still manages to link up in ways that I did not expect. A large part of why I chose the Comparative Humanities program is because throughout my time at Brandeis I have noticed and enjoyed these intersections, and so as a graduate student, and to some extent I did this even as an undergraduate, I seek out these intersections and do my best to think about them critically.

An example of how I did this last semester is that my final paper for my Queer Readings course was about how three different translations of the myth of Iphis and Ianthe, each translated in distinct centuries, represented the queer themes of the story. I could not have done this were it not for my previous readings of Ovid’s Metamorphoses in both my Classical Mythology course and Classical Myths course, which each used a different translation of the text. I found myself further qualified to talk about comparative translation from the Literary Translation course that I had taken in a previous semester. I would have found myself more qualified if I had taken Latin the semester before writing this essay, rather than the semester after, but so it goes.[1]

 As another example, I do not think that I could have written my essay on Dante’s representations of Limbo and Paradise for my Modernity course last semester were it not for the course I took on Hell, the afterlife, and poetry in my junior year. I could go on, but my point is that at some point or another, every class that I have taken at Brandeis has informed at least one other class, creating what I strongly believe to be a richer experience.

Two weeks into my career as a graduate student, I am finding that even in the short time since the semester has started my classes are already starting to connect. My course on Witchcraft and Magic, for example, at first glance might not seem at all connected with Millennial Latin American Fiction for someone who is not familiar with either topic, but in actuality our readings on the theories of magic and its connection to religion and science are very much informing my fiction course, due to the fact that much of what we have been studying is magical realism, and in fact the first text we are reading for the class is titled El mago  (The Magician) by César Aira, which, as one might imagine, is about a magician.

My courses of study at Brandeis also inform my general interests outside of the classroom and vice versa. As readers of this blog well know, I enjoy writing book reviews, and thus I enjoy reading books. One of the great things about reading broadly is that I get to engage with topics and perspectives that I might not have otherwise had the opportunity to experience. Each book that I read varies in a multitude of ways, but a common factor is that in reading diversely I often come in to contact with vocabulary that I then need to add to my personal lexicon. I’ve always said that my life would be easier if I learned Latin, and even with having just attended four Latin classes and read two chapters of the textbook, I’ve already lost count of the amount of times that I have found use in understanding vocabulary that would have confused me not even a month ago. That said, what I find amusing is how my previous knowledge of what may seem like extraneous vocabulary is doing the reverse, in that I am remembering my Latin vocab better because I know English words that are derived from the Latin originals that I am currently studying.

In a similar vein, my personal interest in mythographic and pagan traditions has led me to being prepared for my Magic and Witchcraft class, as even though I have not studied Mesopotamia with much depth, I am familiar with how to approach this field of study. What little I did know about Mesopotamia prior to this class is enhanced by having taken a course a couple years ago regarding the Ancient Silk Road. That particular course, in conjunction with my Historical Linguistics course and my general interest in languages, enabled me to grasp with greater clarity my readings which discuss the translation of the ancient mesopotamian texts, as well as appreciate the difficulty in doing so.[2]

I suppose what I am ultimately saying here is that knowledge stacks. I could not be in the place that I am today were it not for all that has happened in my past, and while my four years as an undergrad were tough, I do feel that they, and all the years of schooling I had before then, have prepared me for my current environment as best they could. If you’ll excuse me, that environment includes reading a whole bunch, so I’d best be off working through my to be read pile.

Happy Friday!



[1] I am not unaware that this would have been a better point had I studied Latin earlier in my life but, alas, this is but one of the many reasons why I have frequently stated that my life would be easier if I knew Latin.

[2] If any of y’all are interested in how deciphering dead languages can add to historical knowledge you might also be interested in reading my essay about how the discovery of Tocharian languages has contributed to historians’ understanding of some of the migrations and changes throughout the Silk Road.

Words of Wisdom: Sh*t My Professors Said in 2016

I pride myself on being a dedicated note taker, capturing every last detail, and over the course of my time at Brandeis, I’ve sat in a whole host of Lectures. I decided that in addition to sharing some of what I’ve learned about my course subjects, I would also share some key words of wisdom shared by professors both current and past. This is the first post in a series, and includes words of Wisdom from professors that I took classes with in 2016.

Fall 2016

What if in 10,000 years people thought that American Idol was literature?

We are not as judgmental as Russian intellectuals.

Dropping Tibetan names makes things sound much more beautiful.

People often ignore Hellenistic influence on Romans, which is stupid because it’s the period in between Greek and Roman.

Never think that all of the work has been done.

If you don’t know what it is, it’s probably religious.

If you are into philosophy you will like Manichaeism.

Annoying as in they put up a pink flamingo, or annoying as in they are going to kill you?

Spring 2016

I’ve decided to give up my job as a Professor of Shakespeare to write 50 Shades of Grey.

If you know how to have a good time why don’t you?

Would a Roman call that unfaithful? No, they’d call it Tuesday.

It will kill me, and I will take you with me.

I am the grammarian about whom your mother warned you.

I maintain this to the death (and I mean yours). I’m old and sneaky and fat.

Why don’t you just shoot yourself in the leg? It seems kinder in the long run.

He was writing a paper on the Aeneid and misspelled it five times.

I actually sat in my TA’s office and whimpered.

Let this be a lesson about being a philosopher and trusting German kings.

Since everybody dies, I don’t think of it as a punishment … We’re all kind of sinful, so I guess we deserve it too.

How many times do you have to be forgiven before people say no? That’s a logical solution which no one ever goes for.

There’s no logic in religion.

The poor man’s just trying to do his job, why are you trying to make him kill you?

They used to write home and say “please send socks.”

Golf is a good walk spoiled.

What’s mine is mine, what’s yours is not.

He was wearing a suit, why does it matter?

Doesn’t even give frequent flyer miles for the guilt trip.

Any sentence that starts with “if you love me” you don’t want to hear the rest of it.

Like my father says “opinions are like assholes, everyone has them and they smell.”

You need to make sure that they are old enough to not kill each other, or torture each other, or whatever they do at that age.

Monks had way too much time on their hands.

He really needs to get out more.

Do you like poetry? Would you rather be nibbled to death by ducks?

The Romans were like “yes, blood, good.”

“Kids these days” has been going on literally since 2300 BC.

Usually the person who says “gather thee rosebuds while ye may” is the one who wants to have wild passionate sex with you.

Sometimes when I talk about the 60s, I really mean the 60s. Nero.

Purple and Cerulean Blue Sheep, just what I wanted.

I have brothers, why would I fight fair?

There’s a guy whose got his shit in a pile.

External Book Review: The Great Passage by Shion Miura

Happy Monday! I’m switching it up and posting on Monday, Wednesday and Friday this week instead of the normal Tuesday/Friday schedule. Why you may ask? Well because, what some of you may know, and others don’t, is that Word-for-Sense isn’t the only place that I publish book reviews. I also write occasional reviews for Three Percent, a resource for international literature at the University of Rochester which is affiliated with Open Letter.

My most recent review for Three Percent is of The Great Passage by Shion Miura, which can be read here. I cannot post the full review here of course, that is what the link is for, but as for a snippet of what the book is about, The Great Passage is a book that centers around a fictional book, also called The Great Passage, which is to be a groundbreaking new dictionary of the Japanese language. The Great Passage (that is to say, the real-world book I reviewed) is an excellent novel, and while I am unable to read the Japanese original, and thus could have very well missed much of the nuance that comes with editing a Japanese dictionary in particular, Juliet Winters Carpenter did an excellent job of making the text feel just as invigorating as I image the original text would have felt.

Please do read my review, linked above as well as here, and let me know what you think, either on the comments here, or on the original post on the Three Percent site.

Happy reading!




Complete URL for the review:


P. S. Be on the lookout on Wednesday for the 2016 edition of a new type of post I’m creating called Words of Wisdom: Sh*t My Professors Say