Organizing your life can be a bit like trying to herd cats. Your efforts, no matter how well-meaning, can seem futile. In this 3-part series, we will break down a few tips for staying organized while studying, job hunting, and in the office. Here’s a quick snapshot of our series:
1. Organizing for effective studying
2. Organizing for an effective job search
3. Staying organized on the job
So let’s jump right in to our suggestions on how to organize for effective studying…
Make or get yourself a whiteboard/chalkboard calendar. Hang this calendar somewhere in your office space where everyone can see it.
Letting your support system see your schedule is going to help keep you organized and focused. Whiteboards and chalkboards are fantastic for organizing your thoughts and to make sure you don’t miss anything. They aren’t permanent so you don’t have to feel bad if you need to erase something and move it elsewhere.
Set up a weekly study schedule and convey it.
In my experience with students, a weekly study schedule seems to be more effective than trying to set up a monthly schedule. A month is a bit too ambitious, and you will often need to make significant changes before you get too far in. Keeping the schedule to a week allows you to plan according to your activities, which helps you be more successful. And as you succeed and are able to hit your goals you will be more likely to continue following through.
Write that study schedule up on your whiteboard calendar, computer calendar, or mobile device (whatever you feel most comfortable with). Planning it out and writing it down are two things that many students often forget to do. Making a mental schedule is fine, but you likely won’t keep to it very well. Remember, a goals that isn’t written down is only a dream!
Make to-do lists.
I love to-do lists. My to-do lists have to-do lists. While you don’t have to be that extreme, a to-do list each day can help keep you on track. Also, studies have shown that ticking off an item on a to-do list releases endorphins. Endorphins elevate your mood. This tip, therefore, serves two purposes: it keeps you organized and makes you happy!
Keep your to-do list in one specific area. Keeping to-do lists on receipts, Post-it notes, gum wrappers, etc. is all well and good, but it can actual increase anxiety because those things are inevitably lost or damaged. I would suggest getting a good physical planner or writing them up on your whiteboard. I don’t have a whiteboard in my office, so I use a Planner Pad (www.plannerpads.com) to keep track of my schedule, to-dos, and brainstorming.
What tips do you have for staying organized while you’re studying? We would love to hear what works for you! Leave your suggestions in the comments below, and check back soon for the next installment in our series: organizing for an effective job search.
CS Student Support