Now that I’m seriously getting ready to head back to school and packing up my bedroom, I’ve started to think more critically about the types of organization systems I want to use for this semester. In the past, I’ve written a slew of posts about how I use my planner, Google calendar system, iPhone and various apps, notebooks, and binders to keep me organized and in touch with all of the work I have to do.
Yet, somewhere, a small 7th-grade Sivani is still freaking out because no matter how organized she thought she was, she’d always forgets to bring the right paper or correct notebook to class. Yup, I was notorious for losing things. It wasn’t necessarily forgetting major assignments and was more like me forgetting to complete one homework assignment per month (especially when the semester got really “busy” for me).
Senioritis was AWFUL, and I feel like I’m still battling it at some times—the mindset of “it’s OK to forget homework because I’m already accepted to a college program” is so hard to get rid of and a terrible habit to fall into! I ended up realizing that when the semester would actually get BUSY, with musical practice ending around 9 p.m. and still having to study for AP exams (my first taste of late night studying), I managed to do quite well if I remained on top of my time management systems.
Without further ado, here are some tips and tricks I’ve picked up over the years about getting and staying organized.
- Assignment Notebook Format – 1) Planner and 2) GoogleCalendar
Google Calendar, or some other online cloud-syncing program, will be indispensable to your time in college. I’m able to plan out my whole week—seeing which times I’m going to be in class, in lab, in my research lab, working for AED, and volunteering.
Because I’m able to also see this on my iPhone, I always have my availability ready whenever someone asks me to meet up to study at the library or join them in office hours. Not only does this system keep my peace of mind, but I recommend a successful time-tracking strategy to all students who plan on entering the professional world—a strong first impression has done me wonders when it comes to shadowing physicians and attending interviews!
I also realized that I needed a more tangible assignment-notebook style way of writing down a to-do list for homework and other commitments. I need to maintain a day planner, along with my Google calendar, to effectively accomplish all of my work. With my recent dive into the Passion Planner (I don’t own the real-life version, but use the free downloadables and also have the free 2015 pdf form), I learned to schedule the assignments into my time table so I know exactly when I’m completing all of my homework and studying for each exam.
This system helps me keep track of myself so I don’t let time get away from me in the library when I head in to complete one practice exam and come out four hours later with only three pages completed.
- Syllabus Reading
I cannot stress the importance of properly reading your class syllabi! All courses are required to hand you the syllabus or make it available online, and it is pretty much the Sparknotes of the whole course! It tells you what each lecture is going to be about, when all of the exams are, when the homework assignments/group projects are due, and if there are any extra credit opportunities.
However, students overlook the “boring parts” about the course grading policy and absence handling until they need to skip class because they are sick and have no idea if it is excused or not, or are trying to calculate their grade at the end of the course. Save yourself the embarrassment and avoid emailing your professor, because he or she already gave you all this information on the FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL! I am insane about going through my syllabi and writing the important dates in my planner. I also had to use the course absence policy readings extensively for missing class for an excused absence last semester!
- Binder/Notebook/Computer Notes
My freshman year, I didn’t really take notes on the computer because I was used to handwriting notes during class periods in high school. I really liked that style, but noticed that it was dying because of how popular computer notetaking has become. I’ve converted over the semesters, but still think about switching back for some courses.
It’s all about accessibility—the professor will usually put up course slides in a powerpoint or pdf format. I’ve taken notes directly on the professors’ slides, but also converted them to a notetaking software like Evernote or Microsoft OneNote to take notes in the program itself. I like using Microsoft OneNote because I can see all of the course lectures on the right side of my screen at all times. Plus, it also has an app that I can access on my phone to see my notes on-the-go.
However, I noticed that when it comes time to study for an exam, I end up printing out my notes to re-listen to lectures while writing down important points. I get worried because if I write notes in class, I might miss something my professor says, so I just type everything down quickly. I think I might revert back to a binder or notebook for some classes this semester, because although I love my digital work, I also like writing and highlighting my notes for school. I also really do not like reading from the computer for an extended period of time, and prefer to read printed lecture slides to avoid the computer glare-induced headaches.
How could I let winter break escape so easily? I’m going to miss it a lot, especially when I’m in the library studying for an exam and all of the words start to blur together on the page. It’s getting time to head back soon, so let’s make the most of what we have left!
Happy End of Winter Break!