When I started college my study space was a post-it note nightmare with disorganized due dates haphazardly stuck to my desk, mirrors and textbooks. My grades suffered. High school had been a easy breezy whirlwind of practicing clarinet, guitar, piano and dancing to Lady Gaga with my friends. This was different. After my first semester, my grades were not the beautiful sparkling A's I was used to seeing. At first, I panicked. Then I pulled it together and got organized.
Here's how I did it! You can do it too!
Write It DownHow you keep track of everything is up to you! You can use your phone, Google Calendars or a planner. Experiment and see what works best for you. Planners are my preferred way of keeping track because you don't have to keep them charged. If you choose to use a planner, invest in a quality one that will not fall apart before the year is through. My planner is from a small leather goods shop in my hometown. I've heard great things about Passion Planners and Erin Condren planners.
At the beginning of each semester I like to look through my syllabi and pencil in important test dates and quiz dates.
At the beginning of each week, usually on Monday afternoons, I sit down and schedule in everything important for the week including boring chores like laundry and grocery shopping. As the week progresses, if I didn't get to one of the tasks, I move it to the next day until I can cross it out.
Work FlowCreate a designated study space and keep it organized. It can be your desk at home, and a space in the library or any building on-campus. Do whatever it takes to make your study session successful: play music, stand up while you study, make that coffee! Also, never underestimate the power of your phones underappreciated do not disturb setting. Don't be afraid to turn on your phone's "Do Not Disturb" setting.
SchedulingMy university actually had a person who worked with students to make daily schedules. If you have a hard time staying realistic with your shcedule, see if there is someone like this at your university, or call upon a super organized friend to show you their secrets. A great schedule helps balance everything out when you have a part-time job, internship and full class load.
In ClassI didn't carry separate notebooks for each of my classes, instead I kept a five section notebook for my classes. I found this worked better because I wouldn't accidentally grab the wrong notebook when I was in a rush. Also if my professors posted lecture notes or PowerPoints ahead of time (rare!) I would print them out, take them to class and take my own notes on the printed copy. This really cut down on writing time and hand cramps.
For assigned reading, I would use sticky tabs to keep track of what I had and hadn't read. For example, if I had a history book section to read before class, but didn't get to it all the night before class, I would mark where I left off and where I needed to read to with sticky tabs. That way I wouldn't forget to finish my reading prior to the exam.
I never took my laptop to class. The temptation of Pinterest, Reddit, Twitter and blogging were too strong to resist.
GoalsSet goals and don't tell anyone about them until they are accomplished. This is the secret to life. If you don't know what I'm talking about, watch this video.
PrioritizeMan down, man down! What do you do when you have too much to do? Know what is important to you. For this you can look to your planner for the week and create a list of priorities from there. This is what mine probably would have looked like on a Tuesday night.
- Analysis due on Friday
- Articles and media lists due on Wednesday
- Paper due Thursday
- Volunteer hours (at least 4)
- Proofread Paper
- Finish analysis
- Submit articles and media lists
- Put in some extra time at work
- Extra volunteer hours
AppsThere are several apps I used in college, and still use to stay organized.
Mindly- Mindly is a thought mapping app. I used it for research paper brainstorming session and for keeping idea lists for my blog.
Quizlet- Quizlet is a study tool. You can make your own flashcards and play games to memorize information. I used Quizlet to study vocabulary for four semesters of Spanish. It was also really helpful when I had memorize cases and laws for my media law and ethics courses.
How do you stay organized?