Friday, October 5, 2012

Day 5: Study Successfully: Get Organized for School

Today's post is a little different. My goal is 31 days to an organized LIFE, not just a more organized home.

 Today I want to focus on the one thing that causes me so much stress....School. I realize that this post is not going to be applicable to everyone, but I bet you can all think of at least one student who could benefit, whether it be your child, a friends child, niece, nephew, etc..

For those of you who do not personally know me, I am in my final semester of  my bachelors in kinesiology with an emphasis in exercise science. I go to school full-time. I also work part-time so my fiance can be a stay at home dad. We decided when I was pregnant, that we didn't want to put our daughter in daycare if we could avoid it. The only way to swing that, was for me to both work and go to school. It is incredibly hard.

Last semester was almost unbearable and my grades suffered...a lot. I had so much going on, was constantly in the new parent, zombie, exhausted haze (I went back at 2 weeks postpartum), and was so incredibly disorganized that I was just setting my self up for failure. Luckily I passed...barely..but I passed.

This semester has been better..but not by much. I have still been missing deadlines, staying up late trying to finish an assignment I didn't realize that I had until the day it was due.

My online classes are the worst. I never think about them... I know, I know, I have already heard the "That's why you shouldn't take online classes" lectures. But by taking online classes, I have made it possible to spend 4 days a week at home, with my baby. I was away from her for 40 hours a week for the first 7 months of her life, I didn't get the average 4 months of maternity leave, and missed so much because of it. But it was a sacrifice I made for my family. I don't want to miss anything else, and she is only this little once.
Now, the ways to go about getting organized for school, seem so obvious to me. Its all common sense, but for some reason I have had the hardest time executing what I need to do, and sticking to it. This challenge, and  this post particularly, are going to be what I use to hold myself accountable to stick to this and to stay organized.

Step 1: Get a planner!
I love my planner. It has plenty of room to write everything I need down.

Step 2: Fill out the planner!
At the beginning of the semester, my professors hand out syllabi with every homework due date, test date, even the date and time of the finals.
I sit down that first weekend and fill it all in. I have a record of every due date from now until December. Granted, deadlines may be pushed, but isn't it  better to have a few extra days to do something, than wait until last minute because you had no idea the due date was coming up?

This is what I have the hardest time doing.. yes, everything is there, but what good is it going to do if I don't look at it? The answer..NONE.
From now on, I will put forth the effort to look at my planner every Sunday night.

Taking it even further..

Scheduling is one of the organizational keys to succeeding, but all of the scheduling in the world doesn't make a difference if you cant find the handout you need, you don't have the materials you need for class, or you just plain cant find your homework.

1. Get a binder AND a notebook.
Some of my professors post PowerPoints of their lectures, others don't. Either way, there is always extra information I need to write down that is not on the lecture slides.. That is what the notebook is for. Likewise, there are going to be plenty of papers handed back that you need to hold onto...queue binder.
In my opinion BOTH are needed.

2. Dividers....
They sell them for a reason. They make life so much simpler. I divide everything by unit....a unit being the information that will be on a specific test. It lets me know what I need to study, and helps me focus my attention on what is important.

3. Be Prepared...
If the teacher assigns a it. If a teacher tells you to print out a handout and bring it to class... print it out and bring it to class... These things may seem mundane and you may think that you can get by without them, you can just follow along the conversation or look off of your neighbors handouts. You are wrong. There is a reason the professor assigns these things... believe it or not..THEY HELP!

4. Do not procrastinate..
Easier said then done. Things come up. There are other things you would rather be doing than an assignment that is due next week. Well before you know it, its going to be the night before and you haven't started. Insert panic, cramming, and lack of sleep. If you just START, that is that much less work later. For me, when I start a paper, I usually realize it would just be easier to finish it then. Think of all of the time you will have, and the lack of stress that you can experience by simply doing something in advanced.
I know, life comes up, and it doesn't always work that way...but isnt it worth a try?
I am really going to start working on getting assignments done early.
This way I will be able to savor rocking my baby to sleep, rather than rushing because I have an assignment due in a couple hours.

This is day 5 of a 31 day series. To see the rest of the series, click here.


  1. Hello I am visiting via the Nester's 31 days series. Your series is so inspirational and full of great tips!

    I too am participating in the series. My topic is "Decor To Adore~ finding your style". I would like to invite you to stop by anytime.

    Have a beautiful day and a wonderful fall season.

  2. Thank you! Your topic sounds wonderful! I will definitely check it out!