Being a student is tough. Our schedules are constantly filled with classes and hours in the University library, and not to mention squeezing in a time slot to prepare meals.
But that doesn’t mean we can’t be organised about it. Below are my 5 tips on how I stay sane with my mountain of workload and crazy study schedule.
1. To Do List
I cannot stress enough on how this is the key to being organised. Something as simple as a list of things to do can definitely make a huge difference.
I like to write out a numbered list priortising the important ones first. I also include a little checkbox at the side of the list so I can put a tick on it once its completed. I personally like to carry around a notebook with me as it also includes other things such as important reminders and appointments.
Bare in mind that your list has to be realistic, there’s no point writing down ten things to do when you know you only have time to do five of them. You should write out the list based on your pace. This brings on to my next tip, time management.
2. Scheduling your time correctly
For friends who know me, they would have seen my colourful schedule/timetables by now made by my huge collection of Stabilo coloured pens. I recommend making a weekly schedule. This is an excellent way of having a rough idea on how much revision you get done after each week.
I also like to accommodate a time slot for my cooking and study breaks (Netflix sessions are also just as important haha). I also keep a slot for an hour gym session usually at the end of the day 3-4 times a week.
3. Maintain a good diet (most of the time!)
I cannot stress how important it is to have a well balanced meal. Trust me! I’ve tried skipping through meals to get more work done but I just find myself unable to concentrate and getting tired easily. There lots of different ways to prepare your meals. A lot of my friends like to prepare weekly meals every Sunday, so all they have to do is heat it up in the microwave and they’re good to go. However, for me I prefer to make meals fresh on most days.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not asking you to take 3 hours out of your schedule to prepare gourmet meals (I’m a horrible cook!) but there are simple recipes I like to follow online and books that guide me through making delicious and simple meals. Most only take up to an hour to make – max! I also know its tempting to skip through breakfast to sneak in extra hours of sleep before a long day of classes. But, in my experience, I am able to study and concentrate better after a good breakfast. My personal favourites are avocado on toast or a simple smoothie. These can be prepared in less than 30 minutes.
4. Staying up to date with lectures
No one likes to have a piled up workload waiting for them, staring at them as they procastinate. To prevent this, I make sure that I stay up to date with my lectures. I personally like to type out my notes as this saves a lot of time. Here is my routine:
- Before each lecture: I type a rough outline on the lecture, including learning outcomes and the important details. This is useful as it gives you an idea on what the lecture is about rather than seeing the information for the first time in class.
- During the lecture: I add in extra information or highlight the important details following what the lecturer says. (By this time you would have run through your notes twice now, see how efficient it is!).
- After the lecture: I then print out my notes and run through them at home, reading and annotating them to make sure I fully understand the course material.
5. Focus on learning outcomes
One thing I have learned that really works is writing my notes based on learning outcomes. This is so useful as not all 50 slides of material is important – some may just be extra information or graphs/pictures. This helps me breakdown the lecture properly and makes revision before an exam a lot easier. It also allows me to make flashcards (another extra tip!) on the module/subject. Flashcards are probably my best friend during exam season. This is a great way to memorise certain material and remembering quick information a day before an exam. Definitely a better way that flipping through copious amount of notes and trying to remember every last detail of the subject the day before an exam.
However, everybody studies differently with varied methods and at their own pace so it is useful to try out different ways at the beginning of the academic year and see which ones suit you the best.
So here they are, my top 5 tips for staying organised. I hope they do come in useful and benefit you as how they did for me.
Written by Dawn Kaur
Currently studying Medicine at Royal College of Surgeons, Ireland