Steps to Help You Get Organised and Ready to Study (Part 1)
How to become Get-it done-Guy or Gal!
Over the next few blog posts I’m going to take a look at the importance of being organised in your approach to your studies. I’m also going to be giving you some great hints and tips to get you the best possible start to the new academic year. With that in mind here are the benefits of being organised.
Here’s what you gain from having an organised approach to your studies
- You will know where you need to be at any given time
- You will know what you need to be doing at any given time
- You will know when your deadlines are for the BIG goals (assignment due dates, exams etc)
- Because you know when the BIG deadlines are you can create a series of mini-deadlines of your own to help you hit the BIG deadlines on time (I’ll be publishing a deep-dive post on how you can do this very soon- watch this space)
- Because you know which lectures are happening when, you can plan to do any homework or pre-reading that you need to complete before you attend the lecture
- Because you know when that pesky group presentation is due (hands up, who else hates group presentations?), you can schedule meetings that accommodate everyone else’s timetable as well as your own
and the biggy…
Because you know all of the above and you have them under control, you can relax and enjoy your downtime!
Doesn’t sound too hard does it?
Well no it doesn’t seem too hard. On the surface it does seem to be fairly easy, but unfortunately there are many obstructions to the path of true organisation, and that’s why I’ve decided to produce the next few posts to help you find your way through and past these problems.
The truth is there are a thousand time management gurus out there, each with a different theory about how you can best organise your time. I don’t profess to be one of those experts, I just know what works for me. Plus, I’ve found a few new ideas that I’ve tried out while setting up my website that I’m going to share with you (see, I told you the skills that you develop during your time at university are just as useful in the ‘real world’!)
It’s tough when you’re starting out
Whether you’re just starting your first few days at university or whether you’re entering your final year, you’re beginning to settle into a whole new routine. Everything is different and it’s natural to feel a bit confused and disorientated.
There’s a lot going on. You’ve walked three marathons across campus to get to all of the orientation classes. You’ve met a gazillion new people; students you like, others you’re not so keen on – yet. Then there’s the lecturers…
and they go waffling on about something that you don’t really understand. So you just add it to the pile of other “one things to take away” and hope that it all becomes clear at some point, preferably before you graduate!
What you need is a place to start
The first positive thing to do is to not panic. Pretty soon things are going to settle down and you’ll gather the copious snippets of information from orientation week that will, if assembled and organised correctly, form your academic schedule for the semester.
Now, as tempting as it is to stuff your schedule in a drawer and forget about it – please don’t. All that will happen is that you’ll end up being in the wrong place at the wrong time and you’ll start the semester on the back foot. Once this happens you’re on a constant treadmill of trying to catch up.
This is not good!
Instead, spend some time gathering all of those snippets of information (a bit like you would if you were doing a jigsaw puzzle) and sort them out to build your schedule (again more on this very soon in a blog post near you).
NOW you have a place to start creating your own bespoke timetable for the semester.
Here are five things you can do to help yourself get organised from the getgo
5 Easy Ways to Get Organised and Ready to Study
- Get into the ‘organised student’ mindset
- Set up a timetable planner
- Create a deadline schedule for assignments (with the facility to create mini-deadlines)
- Have a rockin’ ‘to do’ list
- Prepare your notebooks and folders
Before we move on a bit of housekeeping…
a) there’s a lot to cover in the 5 methods set out above, and
b) because I know you’re busy, and
c) because I want you to really take on board the methods I’m going to be talking about,
I will only focus on the ‘organised student’ mindset in this blog.
But, rest assured I will be giving you loads of useful tips on how to set up a timetable, a deadline scheduler and organise your to-do list in my next blog post, so make sure you keep reading folks!
Organisational skills are for life not just for college!
Well, think about it. Everything in life works better if it is properly planned and executed (even surprise birthday parties have to be organised by someone). Good organisational skills will be useful throughout the rest of your life, whether you’re planning your wedding, purchasing a house, designing your home decor or simply buying a laptop, you will get better results if you’ve thought it through and planned how you’re going to get the outcome that you want.
How do you get organised?
Now, some people survive and even thrive in chaos and if that’s you, I’m jealous…seriously jealous! Me? I am (as one of my mentors used to describe me) so anally retentive that I have to-do lists to remind me what to put on my to-do lists.
Folks, I’m not suggesting that you adopt my way of planning, if I’m honest it’s not a very efficient way to work. Too much time is spent in the planning and not enough in the doing (this is definitely a case of do as I say not what I do).
BUT, I don’t recommend pantsing (a term used to describe writers who adopt a fly-by-the-seat-of-their-pants strategy to get their novels completed) either. In this instance too much time is wasted doing the work, deleting the work, doing the work, deleting the work – you get the idea.
So, what we’re looking for is some middle ground. A way to work efficiently (or as the Gurus say, a way to work smarter not harder)!
Okay, let’s take a look at how I got into the ‘organised student mentor’ mindset by tackling my chaotic home life (hint: it’s the same process as getting into the ‘organised student’ mindset)!
Haven’t got time to watch the video right now? No problem! You can download a copy of the transcript of the video right here and read it at your leisure!
Recap on Today’s Training
Right, let’s have a look at the “take-aways” from this post. We’ve seen that it’s a good idea to:
- Do one small thing at a time
- Don’t try to multi-task
- Prioritise (but remember sometimes it’s best to get the jobs you hate out of the way first – IF you have the time!)
- Don’t try to get everything done – set small, achievable goals
- Take regular breaks from a task that’s taking longer than you anticipated
- Reward yourself for what you do get done – don’t punish yourself for what you didn’t do
- Try to get into the habit of doing a few small things that will carry you towards completing your BIG goals every day
A little time invested now means more free time for you later
Now I know none of this is particularly sexy, and that there are a lot more fun things to be doing in your first few weeks in college, BUT if you get this right now you are going to free up loads of spare time to go out and have some fun right throughout the semester.
Okay, that’s about it for now.
Just one last thing, don’t forget to watch out for my next post where I’ll be taking a look at some pretty cool tech that’ll help you get even more organised AND increase your efficiency.
If you want to get more done in less time you can sign up to receive my blog post notification emails so you don’t miss out- the form’s on the right hand side of this post.
Thanks for reading and I hope it’s helped clarify a few things for you.
PS Feeling a bit isolated and overwhelmed? Want some help to get you motivated to study? Why not join my free Study Buddies support group on Facebook?
PPS I also have two brand new communities on Pinterest that I’m really pleased to be able to tell you about. They are both super-supportive communities where students can have a chat with fellow students, ask questions and talk about their study skills experiences.
Even better, one of the groups is specifically set up to help returners and mature students build their confidence in their ability to learn again after a break from the academic scene.
I’d love it if you joined me in there! Here are the links: