Triple majoring? This Rutgers grad designed a planner to organize her life
When her busy schedule demanded more than a conventional planner, Sarah Waxman took matters into her own hands.
The 2016 Rutgers graduate created her own paper-based system to manage her responsibilities as a triple major, resident adviser and Aresty Research Fellow.
"I needed to be very organized,” said Waxman, who majored in Food Science Research, Nutritional Science and Biology. “I found that by explicitly blocking time in my schedule to take care of specific to-do items, I knew that I would not double book that time and that the specific work items would get addressed.”
The simple technique of assigning a time for specific tasks resulted in the METIS Planner, an organizational system that treats each daily responsibility as a scheduled event.
Waxman, who graduated Summa Cum Laude with 187 credits, began designing the planner with her father during the summer of 2013.
“We went through an iterative design process and even tested various versions with other students before we arrived at the current design,” she said.
The final version of the planner is divided by semester and includes two pages for each week, one for scheduling daily tasks and one for tracking weekly to-do items. Each of the six to-do lists allows students to list the required amount of time for each task, along with its due date, priority level and completion status.
“Developing good time management skills will not only help students succeed in college, it’s one of the most critical skills for success in the business world,” said Harvey Waxman, Sarah’s father and the former vice-president of software architecture for Avaya, a major telecommunications company.
In addition to the printed planner, the Waxman duo constructed several other organizational tools ranging from a finance tracker to sleep log.
The supplemental content, which is available online for registered users, transforms the planner into a complete system, Sarah Waxman said.
When brainstorming names for the product, the Waxmans drew inspiration from Greek mythology. Metis is a Greek goddess, the first wife of Zeus, who is known for wisdom, planning and deep thought.
“In a sense, it was both a literal name and a creative name,” Waxman said. “A goddess of wisdom, planning, advice and deep thought just seemed to fit our vision for a complete planning system for any college student.”
The Waxmans launched a Kickstarter campaign during the summer of 2016 to raise enough money for a print run. The campaign, which is set to end July 15, has already met its funding target of $1,500. The campaign has raised nearly $2,000.
“Now the objective is to see how far we can exceed the original goal to get the METIS Planner out to as many students as possible,” Harvey Waxman said.
Some might question why the two chose a print platform in an ever-expanding digital age. The younger Waxman's reasoning: technology has its limitations when it comes to organization.
“There is a limit to what you can see on a small phone screen or even a larger laptop screen at any one time,” she said.
She said a paper-based system allows students to keep track of details without losing sight of the bigger picture.
“And let’s face it, there is something just so sweet when you finish a task and can scratch it off your list or place a nice completed check next to it,” Sarah Waxman said.
At the end of this summer, Waxman will begin working as a food scientist at Mondelēz International, the parent company of major brands including Nabisco, Oreo and Halls. She also plans to return to Rutgers to pursue post-graduate work in food science.
If the planner is successful, Waxman envisions it as being a nice side business and—more importantly—an act of gratitude.
“I had an amazing experience at Rutgers and was looking for a way to share with other students some of the organization techniques I learned during my college years,” Sarah Waxman said.
The Waxmans are offering a free print-at-home version of the planner so students can enjoy it even if they cannot afford to buy the bound version.
“It’s a way of giving back,” she said.
Manya Goldstein is a School of Arts and Sciences first-year student majoring in journalism and media studies and political science. She is a contributing writer for The Daily Targum. She can be found on Twitter @ManyaG18.