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10 tactics that have helped me become a more organised student.
Reading the outline for each subject is the simplest way start organising your uni session. The subject outline contains important dates for assignments, exams, homework tasks, and readings. After a quick read, you’ll have a better understanding of the weekly expectations for that class. Referring to the outline throughout the session will help keep you in front of the deadlines.
Whether you’re working digitally or with paper, having an efficient filing system is just as important as reading the subject outline. Beyond just keeping course notes organised, starting a research log can help you keep track of the articles, books, and chapters you’ve read throughout your degree and where you’ve filed that research. This makes referring back to previous years’ work a breeze. Additionally, you could consider writing lecture summaries to make locating important information easier. Writing short lecture summaries not only helps to revise the information but makes it easier to identify which lectures are key to upcoming exams, quizzes, and assignments.
Finally, keep lots and lots of backups: hard drives, thumb drives or an online drive. It’s possibly the most important thing about having a filing system that never fails, should your computer ever crash.
This sounds obvious but it does really impact your ability to stay on top of things. With online uni, it’s also good to remember there’s more than one place to receive messages. Email and SOLS are the go-to for most academics and UOW announcements, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep an eye out for sneaky Moodle posts. Checking these places regularly can keep you up to date on changes to your class schedule and key days during the session, as well as keeping you in the loop with opportunities hosted by the various UOW services. For the social events of clubs and societies, it’s a good idea to check their preferred social media platforms used by the clubs you follow. Instagram, Facebook and Discord are the popular ones to check.
Having a productive routine can significantly increase your organisation for this uni session and keep you on track from the first tutorial enrollment to the last exam. The right routine will allow you to have a work, uni, and social life balance that is durable and sustainable without one portion feeling neglected. Plus, having time dedicated to a specific task will help with time management and let you relax during your down time without an overhanging sense of doom. Don’t fret if sticking to a schedule isn’t your strong suit, you don’t need to have a minute-by-minute routine scribbled down somewhere. Chances are, even if you aren’t aware of it, you’ve already developed some sort of routine. The goal now is to fine tune it so that you’re benefiting from the time you put in.
To keep that ever-growing laundry monster under control, it’s a good idea to schedule your chores to ensure nothing is being forgotten about. If you know its usually something you tend to put off, then breaking up household chores and scheduling them throughout the week might be just what you need. On the other hand, you might find it more beneficial to set aside a whole day for chores and errands to tackle that laundry monster in an epic battle.
Have you ever forgotten where you left that really big textbook that should be easy to find and just isn’t? You probably need a study area. It will be a lot easier to keep notes and textbooks in a safe place if you’ve got a dedicated area. Having a physical zone can go along way in setting up a mental zone to boost focus. While you should be comfortable in your study area, a bed is not an effective zone as your brain associates that place with sleeping, not with uni work.
How a planner is used is unique to the individual. Some people might find that a rigid study timetable is just what they need to thrive, whilst others might feel restricted by the same approach. Chances are, if you’re the former, then you’ve already got a planner of some kind. If not, then start small with an overall calendar to help you keep track of deadlines and important dates. You can start with a digital calendar like the one on Outlook which connects directly to your uni email or go old school with a printout on the wall. Keeping track of the dates somewhere other than in your head can free up some brain power so you can maximise time and set your own deadlines.
Setting your own deadlines to finish an assignment earlier, and meeting that deadline, can help balance uni work around other obligations such as work, or save you some stress when a sudden cold steals your brain power. Working to your own deadlines also allows you time to review and edit your work so your best version is the one you submit.
If planners aren’t for you, maybe to-do lists are? Setting up a do-to list allows you to outline your goals for the day as well as prioritise tasks to make sure all the important stuff gets done first. Organising your day with this method also requires you to set a time limit on your tasks. For example, when planning out a list, break every task up into hour blocks. This will accurately show exactly how much work is being set for the day. This becomes quite useful when you’re trying not to overload your days.
Goal setting is an important part of keeping yourself organised and on track. The UOW Career Hub recommends using the SMART strategy for goal setting, which involves making your goal specific, memorable, attainable, relevant, and time-bounding. You can set up goals for each day like a to-do list, for each month, or goals that you work towards for the full session. When the deadline for your goal has passed, it’s a good idea to take some time to reflect on how you were able to reach your goal and how you could re-use these techniques. Or if you weren’t able to meet your goal, think about how you could either change tactics or change your goal to make it more obtainable.
The second important part about setting goals is setting yourself rewards. The rewards will keep you motivated and build positive habits. It is important to keep in mind the relationship between the goal and the reward - you should ensure that your reward is equal to the energy put into achieving the goal.