Yipe! School is hurtling at us like a ton of hurt. What to do? How can you prep now to kick massive academic kiester? Here are five quick and easy ways.
Get a calendar you’ll actually use. I like gCal (Google’s calendar that comes with a gmail account) for its ease of use on most any device. Going old school? Cheap paper calendars rock. Don’t waste loads of time or money getting the perfect planner. Go for calendars that allow you to see at least one month at a glance–a semester at a glance is even better–and has room for ten to twelve items on each day. Avoid calendars that cost more than a cheap date or that feature pictures of soopah cutie-wootie kittens in sweaters. Or Justin Bieber. Or any Cardashian.
Start using that calendar now. As soon as you have dates to put down, get them inked in; holidays, burfdays, road trips, class meetings, study groups, all night yarnbombing raids, end of semester dates, test dates, project due dates, colonoscopy dates, date dates, etc. Anything that will take more than thirty minutes should go on your calendar. The sooner you get it on there the better.
Bust up big tasks into smaller chunks. Got a twenty-page research paper due in November? Break it down into small chunks–get research sources, write rough draft, bake brownies for prof, and the like–and put those chunks on your calendar too!
Write down daily to-dos each and every day. Take five minutes in the AM or just before bed to transfer the next day’s calendar crud onto a to-do list. Assign each to-do a time–attend PHYS201 4:30-5:45, practice waxing w/ Mr. Miyagi from 6:30A-7A–so you’ll not only remember to do it, you’ll know about how long it should take, and what’s next on the agender.
At the start of the week, map out the week. Sit down with your calendar once a week to look over upcoming commitments and revise, remove, and massage to make e’erthing fit.
These five easy steps–if you will make them part of your daily routine–will have you sailing through school all la-dee-dah while your roomies panic over missed assignments, cram and jam for their next exam, and generally muck it up.
I’ve written elsewhere about using a daily to-do list in conjunction with a calendar to make your schedule bow down before the awesomeness that is you, but does your to-do list get to “done”? Here are five simple ways to put some serious smack-down on daily tasks by pimping your to-do list.
1. Make sure you can do ’em. Having a hulking, obnoxious, hairy task sitting on your to-do list glaring at you is a recipe for procrastination. Chop that beast down to size. No single task on your list should take more than an hour. If it takes longer than that, you need to break it down into Continue reading 5 Power To-do List Tweaks→
School approacheth, and that right soon! Time to get organized and aggressive. Don’t make the mistake sooo many students make and wait until three weeks into the semester to get started. Here are some things every student should do (this means YOU)…
Get cracking. Mom ain’t looking over your shoulder (for most of us at least). Take responsibility for your studies. Be proactive. Make a todo list. Get a calendar. GET IT DONE before crunch time.
Organization skills cover a multitude of academic sins. Check out www.rememberthemilk.com which is oh so much more than a to-do list. You can track your daily to-do’s, categorize them, set them to repeat, and much more.
BONUS: it integrates seamlessly with gcal and gmail!
Really thorough article on organizational skills and using daily planners. It’s specifically for those with ADHD, but the principalswill work well for anyone…
Using a day planner is one of the most essential coping skills that a student with attentional issues or disorganization struggles can develop; however, it is also a skill that they must practice and develop over time.
Actually, using a day planner is not a single skill, but involves a set of skills that can be worked on one-by-one. —By Michelle Fattig – 2007-07-20
Establishing a routine for your study session is a valuable study skill
Pet owners know that pets quickly learn routines. Your dog starts bouncing off the walls when you put on your walking shoes; he’s anticipating checking his p-mail at the local park. You fire up the electric can opener and your cat leaves claw marks in the linoleum as she races across the kitchen to belly up to her bowl. Even my beta fish figured out that when I moved my hands close to his bowl, he was about to get fed.
Our bodies are pets too, in a way. Routines are a powerful study skill. Establish a routine for your study session (and make sure it ends with a reward), stick to it for a few days, and pretty soon your body will learn the pattern and come a-runnin’.
Here’s an example study session routine to get you started. As I step out the door of my Chem class I keep my pen and notebook in my hand and walk the 200 meters to the library. I find my favorite study carrel on the fourth floor and sit down. I carefully spread out the materials to be studied in front of me, take off my watch and set it in my line of sight, turn of my cell phone, and close my eyes. I take a few seconds to think about how good it will feel to be done with my study session an hour from now, how I can feel proud of myself for getting it done, and how I can then reward myself with a big scoop of my favorite ice cream at the campus snack bar. That’s a study skill I can get behind (and can get me a big behind).
If I do this study session routine after my Chem class every time, it soon turns in to a fixed routine, and just stepping out the Chem building door with my notebook in hand leads me inexorably to studying in the library.
BONUS: Make this study skill routine follow some basic cue or stimulus. For the pets, the cues were putting on walking shoes or hearing the electric can opener. For you, the cue to study might be closing your eyes and rubbing your temples or maybe taking off your watch and setting it in front of you, or stepping out of the classroom door with your notebook in your hand. Do this every time you start a study session, and pretty soon the action itself will lead you into that study frame of mind.
CAUTION: You MUST end with a good reward or you’ll just learn to hate the cue. When my dog saw the pooch shampoo come out from under the sink, he quickly found a bed to hide under. The less you enjoy the activity (statistics homework, anyone?) the more sizable the reward at the end needs to be. “Okay, thirty minutes of stat problems, and then I’ll take that week long trip to Aruba.” Aruba; a study skill to kill your ills.