How to be a super organised student

18th September 2014

Organised student

When ever I am asked to describe myself in an interview the first word out of my mouth is “organised”. I wouldn’t say that I’m obsessed about organising but I do think it helps to make life a little easier. And if ever there is an important time in life to be organised it is when you are a student.

Here are my tips for being organised as a student. It’s all about knowing what you are suppose to be doing as well as where and when.

Write out a detailed copy of your timetable for the year

Some may find this extreme and perhaps a little over-prepared but I found that when I had a detailed copy of my timetable for the year it things a lot easier.

Due to the way my timetable works, some weeks I have lectures for a particular module and sometimes I don’t. Some times I have additional lab work or GIS practicals. It’s good to have a plan of everything so I know exactly what is going on each week and each day.

This way I’m ready is someone asks if I’m available for a certain day or when I’m trying to organise appointments at the doctors etc.

To make this timetable I take all of my timetables for the year (I have one for each module) and put them together so there is one table for each week. I include details regarding the lecturer’s name and what type of session it is i.e. practical, GIS, lecture.

This is what my detailed timetable looks like for this year. I printed it out for quick reference. I also made additional notes and alterations as the year goes on.

Organised student

Use a diary to plan out your week

On a Saturday or Sunday before the new week begins, I take my detailed timetable and write all relevant details into my diary. I also include extra notes such as deadlines and meetings.

I use a colour coding system in my diary. For example, field trips are marked with green, holidays with blue, deadlines with orange, etc.

Organised student

Here’s a good example of a busy week from February. I use abbreviations for modules (i.e. G&D is globalisation and development) so that’s why it looks like gibberish.

If you aren’t a fan of using a diary, you might prefer to use a weekly planner like these ones available from Paperchase.

Plan out your day

So, we’ve been breaking it down one step at a time: year, week and now day.

Take a few minutes out of your morning (or the night before if you’re not a morning person) to look over your day in your diary or planner. It’s a good idea to know exactly what you are going to be up to for the rest of the day. It might help you to plan travel times, meals and what to wear.

You can also see when you have time free to get on with other daily tasks such as cleaning, food shopping, assignments, etc.

Use alarms and timers

This won’t work for everyone but using alarms on your phone can be a great way to keep you on track. You can set them to remind you to attend lectures or meetings.

When I study I use a timer. I usually set the timer for 30 minutes. I work for 30 minutes then take a 5 to 10 minute break to walk around, snack or browse the internet. It’s no good over working yourself. Working in small intervals is so much more beneficial.

Make sure you give yourself a break!

This tip won’t get you organised but will help when everything becomes a bit too much.

I find that students either don’t give themselves enough breaks or give themselves too many. It’s important to find the right balance.

Every now and then you need to give yourself some time to relax and to forget about your worries. University/college can be a stressful time so you need to let go and live a little. Whether you prefer to go out and socialise with your friends or stay in with a good book and a bubble bath, do something that takes your mind off your everyday worries.

Having an organised life as a student will help you to find time that you dedicate to yourself.

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  1. I wouldn’t say I’m an organised person though I can be one sometimes if I wish to. Most of the time, I’m messy (judging from how occupied my study slash computer table is) and I get really anxious whenever someone tries to change the position (or, in this case, the “mess”) of my things. I guess I’m kind of OCD. I tend to freak out when someone moves my things because I want them to stay where they’re originally placed, even if it’s a messy environment haha

    I think it’s good, how you arrange your timetable. I stopped using notebooks the moment I entered college. weird, huh. I rely on my gadgets’ notes now because I’m lazy like that :P and design students don’t really keep a notebook with memos and stuff so I stopped using small notebooks to keep track of stuff. All the important dates are left on digital or physical post it notes instead.

    now that I think about it again, in fact, I don’t really use stationery anymore…except for pencils for sketching concepts and such. I forgot the last time I used a pen to take notes hm.. used to keep a diary/planner to schedule things but it didn’t work out because I’m lazy. in the end I rely on digital reminders.

    a break is definitely necessary though in some cases, i don’t give myself break too especially when i’m web coding. once i gave myself a 5 minutes break in the middle of web coding and i end up procrastinating for hours. another time i end up forgetting what html code i should be typing. hence, i tend to web code for 12 hours straight without break else i’ll lose my ideas.

    sometimes i fail to give myself a pause to breath from all the college mess that i tend to disturb my stomach and fall ill due to stress :( it really is a tough job to balance everything like that. haha

    • Holly

      I don’t like people moving my things around either. I just like knowing where things are.

      It’s weird because I can concentrate on coding for hours on end, even if it stresses me out. Like you, I always think that I will lose my ideas.

  2. What a great post, I won’t say I’m as organized as you are, but I do keep a day planner up to date, and a week planner for setting out experiments in my lab.

  3. B) Super-organized person here .. and since ever. I find this post interesting and helpful as I know for a fact, those who are not organized, may value this very much. Agendas, journals, stickers, are very helpful and good to keep up with things and not to forget them. Weekly and even daily ideas, plans? Write them down! I even write down “smaller” things, thoughts, ideas, as at the end of the day, who can remember everything right? :}
    Oh, I also am obsessed with polka dots .. so this post definitely caught my attention, haha..
    PS: the alarm system is a good idea!

  4. Cat

    I’m a pretty organized person too. It’s kind of how I got a team lead position at work because they noticed I was organized enough to make sure things were on time, haha.

    I used to use a planner/diary all the time when I was in school. It helped a lot to write everything out. Now everything is digital for me since meeting invites come through email.

    Using an alarm or timer is a good tip! I found it kind of motivating to time my study periods and breaks because it gave me something to look forward to. Planning out your day is a good idea too. It helps make sure you have time for the important things :)

    Is that a Paperchase planner by the way? It’s cute!

    • Holly

      I’m hoping that my organisation skills will really benefit me when it comes to getting a job when I graduate.

      Yep, the planner is from Paperchase. I have a real addiction to that shop. It doesn’t help that my brother is a designer for them. ;)

  5. I am not so organised – while I was in school I was…but now not so much. The only thing I have organised and keep notes on would be my crafting business…which is something I have to do.

    I do like the idea of making a weekly timetable. I think I’ll have to make one for next week because it’s my last full free week before a huge festival…which means I’ll be sitting behind my sewing machine to catch up on things I should have totally finished. Ugh.

    At some point I would like to be as organised as you are, just in general. I’m just bad with putting things off until last minute.

    • Holly

      I was the opposite in school. I think I’ve just learnt to be organised over the years as I’ve had more things in my life to manage.

  6. Being organized is the best thing to be because it really ease your time in the future because everything is there instead of having to scramble around having to find what you need to find. This year, I finally used my planner for more than school stuff and it really helped me! And it’s a good practice because it shows you’re reliable and it’ll force you to be on time.

    I use a coloring system for my planner as well; it helps seeing what different things are happening at a glance.

    And breaks are definitely useful! Being burnt out = no good.

    Good luck with the contest!

  7. Being organised is something I’m pretty good at, too. In my uni years, I used this one monthly planner that helped me see things in a wider perspective, but I’ve stopped using that. Now, I use ToDoist, HabitRPG, and Google Keep to keep track of what I need to do, and I find those to be helpful, but I also tend to keep track of a mental to-do list for that day :)

    Colouring system is what I also try to use, but I just learned the other day that when I do a colouring thing on my timesheet, it drives my boss crazy LOL. Soooo, I guess for some people being too organised can be a distraction! XD;

    • Holly

      I’ve tried to move on to apps and more digital methods of managing my time, but I still think paper based diaries are the best for me. :)