Blog & Insights
Tips for organising your study
Feeling a bit disorganised with your studies? Interested in finding out how to be more efficient with your time? At exam time it’s even more important to have all your ducks in a row so you can get your head down for some serious study sessions.
But what if you haven’t? What if your desk is actually covered in papers, you have no idea when your next deadline is and those swanky folders you earmarked for filing are currently housing last night’s leftovers in the fridge?
All is not lost. Fortunately, there is still time to get your house in order this exam season so that you will not just be running to the finish line, but you will be way ahead of the game. If you’re reading this article, you’re already halfway there.
Keep a study diary
It sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised by the amount of students that struggle on without one. Whether it’s a real live retro paper affair that can cosy into your pocket, or an app on your phone, use it to jot down all your deadlines, exam dates and assessment requirements as well as any key moments that will need attention. Having a helicopter view on your entire schedule will further help you plan out your time, understand where the opportunities are for studying and give you a realistic sense of approaching deadlines. Combine this approach with setting a weekly study schedule – and stick to it. Identify the gaps and set that time aside each week for working and recapping. You will quickly settle in to a routine and it’s a great way to establish good study habits going forwards. Try the free cross-platform planner app My Study Life or myHomework to get you started.
Organisation is absolutely crucial to keeping study effective and ensuring you make good use of your time. If you spend valuable hours searching around for lost notes each time you want to work, that is time completely wasted. The tried and tested solution is to keep a filing system both online and on the shelf. Real life tangible folders are the perfect way to store your study notes, lecture notes, gathered information and anything that will be useful come exams. Compiling a digital filing system on your computer serves a similar purpose. Separate out the folders by subject and use tabs or subsections to indicate important information that may be useful to find quickly later. Everything has a place and you know exactly where to find it.
Back up back up back up
It’s hard not to emphasise this enough. In the digital age it’s easy to forget that things can sometimes go wrong, that technology can fail, that you may just have that water spillage. And you’re work is way too good to take that risk. Ensure you have an external hard drive for regular back ups, or set up Google Drive or Dropbox to store in the cloud. The benefits are enormous.
The to-do list
Whether you’re happier keeping it digital or prefer to see your piece of paper stuck on the fridge, get it written down. The physical act of determining the next course of action, as well as the ability to check it off as you achieve each one keeps your mind feeling organised and reassured that events are under control. Break each task down into achievable tasks. If you were asked to clean out the fridge, it would be a daunting task that is easy to avoid simply because it is not clear where to begin. Repositioned in 4 stages: Remove items from the top 2 shelves and clean; remove items from the bottom 2 shelves and clean; remove items from the door and clean. Bingo! The task is perfectly clear and you can easily perform it in stages, or in one go. Get in the habit of compiling a to-do list the night before, and be sure to transfer forwards any unfinished tasks to prevent them getting lost along the way.
Have a place to work
If possible, create a designated study area in your room. This would be a quiet place where you can happily leave your work and papers out ready for you to return and pick up where you left off. Ensure it is well lit, well organised with everything you will need and has few distractions. Take regular breaks from your study space and keep yourself moving around to refresh your mind. Some people actually prefer to work out of the library or other public places. Find out what suits you the best, and stick to it.
Life is definitely more fun with other people in it, and that includes studying. Revision can be a lonely task and it’s easy to get stuck in a study rut. Buddy up with other students on the same course to create a study support network so you can share notes, ideas and workshop solutions. Have a regular meet-date in the diary so you always have something to break up the rhythm. Group work is always beneficial in that you have other people to bounce ideas around with, as well as reassurance that you are not alone in your tasks.
Seriously, do not worry. Nothing is insurmountable and if you are having feelings of anxiety or stress, worrying will simply exacerbate the problem. Lean in on your social support structure and voice any concerns you are having. Everyone is going through the same experiences and sharing coping strategies can be a good way to manage your symptoms. It may be that you have simply taken on too much and need to step back from some activities in order to get the work done. If you feel this is not enough, and that your symptoms are worsening there are always people to talk to at Iglu – your property team or resident leaders – or seek support from your University.
Photo by Lacie Slezak on Unsplash