Now’s the time to set yourself up for success this year!
Being a student means juggling exams, finals, labs, and papers—all at the same time. Every term, you probably think to yourself, how am I going to fit in all this studying? Believe it or not, there are some life hacks and tricks of the trade that might help you.
The name of the game is to get organized. At the Salter School, many of our students have developed great ways to organize their studies. These strategies help them whether they are training to be a professional medical assistant, a massage therapist, or a medical billing specialist.
No matter what your program, an organized approach to your school year means using your time well so you can focus on your priorities. Try these tips to up your organizational game:
1. Organize yourself into folders
Keeping your paper materials organized is key, and so is staying on top of your hard drive, email, and browser bookmarks. Folders make it easier to find items you need—when you need them. It’s a breeze to organize your electronic materials into categories and sub-folders.
2. Keep your calendar straight
A big part of being a good student is juggling a bunch of different deadlines. It’s not always easy to keep them all straight. When a professor gives you a syllabus at the beginning of the term, it should have all the important dates on it. If not, double check with him or her, and then record all the dates on whatever online calendar you use most. (Maybe it’s Google calendars, Any.do or Sunrise.)
Tip 3: Set yourself some reminders
For the most critical tests, deadlines, another other events, set your smartphone to send you a nudge, an email, or an alarm. With the help of technology, you’ll never forget again!
Tip 4: Make (and update) your “to do” list
Some people like to make these on paper, and rewrite it every day with new information. But you can also keep it with you always by using an app such as Wunderlist, Evernote, or Todoist. A “to do” list is most useful if you check it frequently throughout the day, so see if you’re getting to the items that are most important.
Tip 5: Give yourself a morning head’s up about your day
Do you find you have so much on your plate that you often hit the ground running as soon as your alarm clock goes off, without looking back? Starting the day that way can make it hard to think strategically. Set your alarm earlier to give yourself an extra 10 minutes, so you can take a little time to plan your day. It will also help you to feel confident that you’re prepared for whatever lies ahead.
Tip 6: Get a handle on your electronics addiction
Do you routinely let your phone or texts interrupt you? This can be okay, depending on whether you can spare the time. When you’re under the gun, however, try putting away your devices. It’s a good skill to be able to ignore your pings and notifications for just a few hours. Usually these are huge “time-sucks” that also distract you from the goals that will move you forward in the long term.
Tip 7: Do less multi-tasking
Smartphones and social media mean that we all multi-task more than we used to. This might seem an efficient way to go, but too much multitasking can cause you to be inefficient. There’s a systemic way to break this down. First, look at your workday in detail and notice how you are spending your time. Experiment with focusing on one assignment at a time—exclusively, with minimal distractions or other tasks—and see if you complete them quicker that way. You might be surprised. It can feel good to cross one thing off your list before you tackle the next one, and see how quickly you move through the list.
These tips are a starting point to help you begin to organize yourself. You may not be surprised that being organized won’t only help you as a student—it will also take you far in your career.