One of the most frequently asked questions by a college student is, “How do I have a social life, good grades, AND enough sleep?” Life as a student is busy. There’s so much going on. But keeping organized and staying on top of things can keep stress and anxiety at bay, and help you live a balanced life. It all starts with developing good habits and systems.
Here are 9 tips that will help you become an organized, productive, and effective student.
Develop a general routine
Write down your weekly class schedule and create a plan for when you would review the things you’ve learned, do your assignments, study for midterms and exams, exercise, go to club meetings, run errands, and so on. Of course, life is unpredictable, so don’t get frustrated if something comes up and interrupts your routine; you can always recalibrate and get back on track!
Write everything down
Trying to remember everything is stressful, so make it a habit of writing down all your activities, to-do lists, and deadlines.
Of course, if you prefer to use your phone to keep track of everything, apps like Google Keep or Any.do are reliable and easy to adapt.
Create your own deadline that is before the actual deadline
Having your own deadline reduces stress for you as a student. This way, you’ll have time to proofread and make improvements, and submit your best work!
Don’t multitask. Focus on one task at a time.
It seems like you’re working twice as hard, but you’re most likely losing focus and spreading yourself thin. In fact, you’re 40% less productive. Yikes!
A useful tip is to write down your top priorities (1 to 3 tasks) on a sticky note and put it in front of you when you’re studying – it serves as a reminder for you to stay focused on the task at hand.
Learn to say ‘no’
You only have limited hours in the day (and of course you don’t want to sacrifice sleep), so set a boundary for yourself. To put it simply, decide how many times you’ll hang out with friends, how many evenings and weekends you’ll devote to extracurricular activities, and how much time you’ll dedicate to self-care or self-cultivation (i.e. exercise, pamper time, reading).
Don’t ever feel guilty when you say ‘no’. You’re simply trying to stay sane and be an effective student.
Break down big tasks into smaller ones
Segmenting a big task into smaller tasks will not only make it seem less overwhelming and more manageable, but it will also help you avoid procrastination.
A useful tip to writing a research essay is to break it down into smaller tasks like this:
- Read 10-12 articles on the topic for research
- Create an outline
- Write introduction
- Write the first main point
- Write the second main point
- Write the third main point
- Write conclusion
- Edit rough draft
- Adjust formatting
- Read it thoroughly one more time
- Submit essay!
If a task takes two minutes or less to do, do it immediately
Complete quick tasks that take less than two minutes as they come up. This way, things don’t pile up and you won’t be overwhelmed.
Using a timer can help you increase productivity. It creates a sense of urgency and makes you appreciate how precious time is.
Try setting 30-40 minutes for doing work, followed by a short break of 5-10 minutes.
Review all the new information you learned in school earlier in the day
Make it a habit to do a quick review at the end of the day (or right after class if you have a short break) – about 20 minutes – of the key concepts you learned in class. This will help you reinforce your comprehension of the material, and this is a good time to write down any questions that you may have and ask your professor during the next class.
Take on these habits one at a time and don’t aim for perfection because, like everything else in life, it’s about making progress. Just be a better you because no one is perfect.
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