Task Preparation – Didem Ekici

Didem Ekici

Supplemental Instruction Graduate Intern

Didem is the Learning Center Graduate Intern for Supplemental Instruction (SI) and she supports USF undergraduate students in their roles as Supplemental Instruction Leaders. Didem earned her Master of Education with TESOL concentration at Salem State University in Massachusetts and moved to the Bay Area a few years ago to pursue her doctoral education in International and Multicultural Education at University of San Francisco, where she works as a teaching assistant now. In addition to 9 years of teaching experience with linguistically and ethnically diverse students, she also worked with ESL students and immigrant families in different projects. Didem is currently the Director of Coordination in a non-profit peace building organization, Applied Ethics/Pax Populi.

“What is the chief way in which you prepare for an important task? What person, thing, or situation
influenced you to prepare in the way that you do?”


Two things really affect the way I get prepared for an important task; the amount of time I have
and the importance of the task. I will walk you through the steps to the preparation of an
important task but please keep in mind that everybody has a unique personality which also
affects the way they approach tasks. Therefore, it is very important to know about yourself; in
other words, become more self-aware. For example, if you are a very detail oriented person
and spend extra time on details, your steps might be slightly different. Therefore, it might be a
good idea to consciously observe yourself and note down the things you spend more time on,
the things you are good at and you do quickly. Here are the steps that work well for me;

1- Figuring out what we expect from this important task as an outcome is the most
important step since it determines the rest of the preparation process. In other words,
you should set your goal first while working on an important task. For example, at the
end of this presentation, “I would like to persuade my audience to…” or “I would like to
get an A from this final exam”. On the other hand, if your goal is to only give information
about a topic in your presentation or if you need only a B on your final exam, then the
way you get prepared for the tasks would be different. Therefore, please decide on
what you want and set your SMART goals first before moving forward.
2- After you decide on your goal, you should think about how much time you need to
achieve this goal. The amount of time you have determines how effective and practical
you should be. For example, you can get ready for the same task in seven days or in
seven hours. If you have seven hours, you have to be more focused and work on it more
intense. On the other hand, if you have seven days, you can spread the preparation time
throughout the week but the outcomes and the consequence might be different
depending on how you prepare. Therefore, please keep in mind how much time you
have and whether you can achieve your goal in that time frame.
3- Now that you have a goal and time frame, you can decide on the tasks that need to be
done by the deadline. Breaking down the tasks into more manageable pieces is very
important at this point since these smaller pieces make the tasks seem more achievable
and prevent you from procrastinating. For example, if you have a presentation and if
you do not know where to start, it might be intimidating and prevents you from sitting
down and doing the task. However, if you break it down into smaller pieces such as;
a- Decide on the important topics you will touch on (how much information
you will share with the audience),
b- Prepare the power point with short notes on each slide
c- put your visuals on each slide and
d- Finally, rehearse, rehearse rehearse…

You can also set a time frame or deadline for each task. You can apply this technique for
everything. Believe me, after you complete each task, you will feel better and more
determined to finish the whole task 

4- Review! Always review what you have done before the final outcome and go back to
your goal to see if the final version of your task aligns with your goal(s). If not, ask
yourself which parts need to be changed. After making the necessary changes, you are
are done.
Just relax and enjoy the feeling of achieving an important task. Rewarding
yourself with an ice cream might be a good idea 
In this process, please always remember Benjamin Franklin’s words; “By failing
to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” Good Luck!

Jamie Capetillo

America Reads Graduate Intern

Jamie is pursuing a Master’s Degree in Higher Education and Students Affairs at USF. She got her B.A. in Women, Gender, & Sexuality Studies and Ethnic & Racial Studies from the University of Wisconsin La Crosse. As the America Reads Graduate Assistant, Jamie coordinates K-3 literacy tutoring at various school sites in San Francisco and trains undergraduate tutors working with the program. Advocating for equitable and accessible education for marginalized students is what brought her to the America Reads position. In her free time Jamie likes to explore the city, find new coffee/tea/smoothie/yogurt shops, read novels and poetry, listen to music and spoken word, and enjoy other forms of art. Come find her in the lower level of


“What is the chief way in which you prepare for an important task? What person, thing, or situation influenced you to prepare in the way that you do?”


When I left for grad school, my mom told me that it was very important that I stay organized and on top of things so that my life wouldn’t become a huge mess. My mom is one of the most organized people I know, without even having to try. She stays on top of things and never fails to get her stuff done. So this semester I tried to channel her, and I think I’ve been pretty successful.

Soooo….. I’m going to share some of what’s been working for me with you because I find that for me, the best way to prepare means organizing myself before I even start that important task!

Some of Jamie‘s “Major Keys” to being organized in school, Planner Edition:

1. Get yourself a planner!!!! My planner is my life. Planners are different for everyone, some people like to physically have their planner so they can hold it and see, others need to have their planner on their phone and or computer. This can simply be utilizing your google calendar or finding an app that works for you. My friend swears by Wunderlist, I personally haven’t tried it but it works for him. For me, my dream is to invest in a Passion Planner. It’s an interactive planner that allows you to map out your month and week, reflect on things, and most importantly create TO DO LISTS! I love those things.

2. ACTUALLY USE YOUR PLANNER! I’ll be honest with you… this was the hardest part. I’ve always been given a planner from my schools, but I never used them. Then I would go and forget about appointments, meetings with friends, or that I had a project due. Looking back on my first few years of undergrad, I could have saved myself so much time and stress if I had been organized and utilized my planner. Right now, I find myself gravitating towards my google calendar when it comes to a planner. I really like that it’ll buzz a reminder on my phone or on my computer so I am forced to remember things.

3. Schedule in your assignments from your syllabus!!! Sounds super easy right? Take it a step forward and in your planner, use a red pen to mark the day an assignment is due. Write it out in blue pen in the two days ahead; black for three to five days ahead; and green for six to nine days ahead (doesn’t have to be those colors, I read this tip in a different blog once, and I’ve done it this way, you don’t have to.) By doing this you’ll always see when your assignments are coming up! Also, you won’t be caught off guard let’s say when your friend tells you your practicum materials are due tomorrow. Just a fictitious example!

4.  While you’re at it, schedule in everything. If you’re one of the few people I’ve shared my calendar with, you’ll see that literally everything I do is on my calendar. I have when I’m going to workout, when I’m going to run errands, when I’m going to have fun, and when I’m doing homework. I also set myself reminders throughout the day and when it comes close to turning things in. Ex. I’m a procrastinator, so on the day that our reading summaries are due for one of my classes, I’ll have multiple reminders pop up on my phone and computer, to keep me on track, and make me feel bad if I’m actually on facebook or something.

5. One final tip I have for y’all is color coding can save your life. For me, In my planner, I have everything color coded. My work is = purple, Homework time = red, optional events = default color, my side hustle = yellow…. you get the picture. For me, this helps me see a balance, and also know what is coming up. For classes, I also color code. My theory class is yellow, so I highlight in yellow, my notebook is yellow etc… My student development class is green. This helps me know how to organize things in my binder, and when I’m looking for something for a class, be able to find it easier. This way for instance, if I’m in a rush and all my readings fall out in the middle of an airport, I know exactly where each of them goes.

Please know that what works for me isn’t necessarily going to work for you. And that for me it took a lot of trial and error to find what really helps me stay organized and on top of things. Find out what works for you by trying different techniques! Also be honest with yourself when it comes to your effort and things that are getting in your way. By doing this you can adjust small things that you could be doing better. Now go prepare, you got this!

Task Preparation – Haley Rietman

What is the main way in which you prepare for an important task? Was there a specific person, event or situation that taught you to prepare in this way?

This blog post was written by Haley Rietman.

Haley is the Program Assistant in the Learning Center. She started in June of this year and has immensely enjoyed working in higher education. By working in the Learning Center, Haley feels that she is able to contribute to the success of students and help them achieve their goals.

“When I have an important task, event, or project I am working on, I believe that preparation is key. I have learned through experience that time management and planning are important to my personal methods of preparation. I like to use what is called Eisenhower’s Decision Matrix to determine what tasks I should put more of my focus into before moving onto the next.

When I was a student in high school, my father always stressed what he called the important/urgent method. This is what I now know as Eisenhower’s matrix. It is a way of using your time efficiently and effectively. After making a to-do list, I decide whether a task is important, urgent, both, or neither. An important assignment would entail something that contributes to one’s long term goals and values. An urgent task is something that should be dealt with in a quick manner. Tasks that are both important and urgent take priority, whereas tasks that are neither can be saved for another day, and tasks that are important will take precedence over tasks that are solely urgent. Therefore, the order of prioritization would be:

  1. Important and Urgent
  2. Important
  3. Urgent
  4. Neither Important nor Urgent

Prioritizing tasks by using this mechanism has benefited my preparation methods far more than anything else I have ever used to prepare.  Below is a diagram that further explains how the matrix should be used and I encourage anyone and everyone to try out this method if you are looking for a new tool to help you manage any and all aspects of your life.”



March’s Monthly Tip!

Happy March, Dons!

We’re almost halfway done with this school year! Can you believe it? This month has been full of midterms and a much needed break. Finals will be coming up before we know it!

Here’s a tip from your friendly LWC staff:

Take Advantage of Office Hours!

During exam season, stress is high and cramming always tends to happen, even if we try not to. Utilize the hours your professors set aside for you. Not only will you gain extra support on questions and concepts that you feel unsure about, but you will also be able to have one-on-one’s with professors who will dedicate time to make sure you pass. Rather than working with the needs of your entire class, the professor will take the time to work with your needs as a student. Even so, these opportunities will help you set time aside for extra study time. Don’t let these opportunities go to waste!

We hope the rest of your March goes swell, Dons! Make sure to make an appointment when you need extra support! We’re here to help!

January’s Monthly Tip

Welcome back to school! We hope your Spring semester goes well and always know The Learning and Writing Center is here to assist you whenever you need us!
This semester is filled with lots of events so make sure to manage your time well. Since this semester is a little shorter than last semester, many assignments and exams may come up sooner than you expected.

As we start off the school year, the LWC is here to provide you with a short tip to help you get this semester rolling.

Set up small, specific goals.

While it’s easy to be energized and ready to go as this new semester begins, there will be times where you may begin to procrastinate and lose motivation. When these things begin, learn to set up small goals! In order to keep yourself on task and to prioritize your time, setting small goals can help you meet deadlines better and help create less stress on yourself. You may get run down when things get stressful but setting up goals can help motivate you.

Good luck, Dons! You got this!

November’s Monthly Tip!

Happy November, Dons! It’s almost time for Thanksgiving break! I hope you’re all ready for good company and good food! This month’s tip is:

Learn Time Management!

I know we’ve all heard the familiar phrase about balancing our time and prioritizing our interests but it has always been easier said than done. In order to avoid last minute cramming, use the free time you have to set realistic goals for your study times. Always try to review your notes each day as doing this will allow you to retain the content you’ve learned. As college students, our lives are hectic and our career goals are our main objective. Sometimes, we become so involved in our extracurriculars and work that we forget to leave time for studies and anything of the sort. Just the same, sometimes we prioritize our studies more than the things we have dedicated ourselves to on campus. Creating a balance between the two can be a daily struggle but it is always something that can be grasped. Not only that but being able to manage time for ourselves is difficult. Use the free time you have to plan out how to effectively manage all your activities. In addition you can also do a few of these tips to help you know where to start with managing your time and studying effectively:

  • Read your notes
  • Make a To-Do List
  • Make flashcards
  • Rewrite your notes
  • Review highlighted information
  • Make up examples

Have a great November, Dons! It’s almost Christmas time!!!

October’s Monthly Tip!

Happy October!

Halloween is upon us and midterm season is finally dwindling down. This month has been filled with countless studying and numerous drop-in’s for the Learning and Writing Center! (Just know there’s always room available to make an appointment if you need some help!)

In honor of this stressful month, the tip(s) of the month are:

Try to give yourself plenty of time and always evaluate where you’re at, (don’t let yourself get run down). 


It’s easy to let yourself get behind on your work because you think you have more time but try not to! Before you know it, finals and midterms can come up unexpectedly. Take advantage of the material you already know and review it daily, or even weekly. This way, you’ll feel more confident on your tests and be ready to answer all those questions. Utilize the centers provided for you on campus and keep up with your studies. Don’t let yourself get too stressed out by the amount of work you are likely to get and start by reviewing early.

Additionally, always take a second to evaluate where you’re at. As college students, we get heavily involved and forget to prioritize. Be careful of stretching yourself too thin and always consider the amount of workload you have. Don’t forget to take care of yourself and prioritize the things that are the most important. It’s easy to get run down and tired due to the amount of things you have to do, but be mindful of how you’re handling it. Time management is essential to be able to thrive and do your best!

Have a wonderful rest of your October, Dons and an even better fall break!!!