Keeping Organised at University

Helping you ace your year!

Univeristy combines studying, house care, socialising and sleep all in one jumbled up pile that you’re left to organise and sort for There’s no two ways about it, university can be at times, stressful and overwhelming but it’s nothing that you can’t fix by keeping your life and study organised and happy!

After three years of university, it’s safe to say I’ve picked up lots of tips and put them into practice in order to see what gets me the best results; the below six tips are what methods and practices I use to keep my university life on track and as stress-free as possible!

This post is part of my 2016 Univeristy Series! See also: So… You’re Going To University (Tips & Advice) and University Advice: Surviving Freshers

Keeping Organised at University

01. Create A Weekly Timetable

Every Monday I like to sit at my desk and work out my weekly study timetable. From this, I can then break down my daily tasks (more on this in my second point!). I like to have something I can visualise over the week and massively helps to keep me on track and on task. I use a a printable weekly planner (will link below) and spend around 15 odd minutes every Monday morning filling it out, I then stick it above my desk so I can always see it and study it if and when I need too. I’ll add my lectures, seminars, decide what times I’ll spend in the library, dedicate hours to reading, writing etc.

From this, I can then see how many hours that week I’m spending on studying roughly, I can see what free time I have left to socialise (I like to keep my evenings mainly free), blog, Netflix binge and also fit in other stuff such as food shopping and general chores.

For me, this is such an essential step in staying organised and on track whilst at university and it doesn’t take too long to do at all. Leave the first few freshers week’s out and once your modules are underway and you have an idea of what is required of you each week, your lectures and assignments etc, start to fill your planner in and you’ll be surprised at the difference it will make when it comes to studying!

I use the Weekly Planner Printable from The Organised Student for this, it’s ideal!

Keeping Organised at University

02. Lists, Lists & More Lists

It’s pretty much time to go list crazy! Every day, I set aside ten to fifteen minutes to write out my daily to-do list. And I list everything, oh yes, everything. Your basic tasks such as washing up, laundry, hoover all get put on there if they need doing, I’ll add the food shop if I need to pop out and do that, and of course, study related activities. What section of work I’d like to complete for that day, what reading I’d like to do, if I need to print or email anything… I keep everything on track.

This way, you’ve got a very clear task-sheet and from that you’ll be able to brainstorm all your time- management, have a clear idea of what you’re doing and, of course, it helps you to stay nicely on track. It allows you to break everything down which is essential at univeristy when study, work and personal tasks all become intertwined.

I also write out my food shopping lists (helps to stay on budget), reading lists, budget-tracking, all sorts. Basically, if it can go in a list form, it most certainly will. After all, there is nothing more satisfying than ticking or crossing off the task you’ve just completed!

Something like this beautiful multi-list book from Paperchase is perfect for this!

03. Get those digital (and paper) folders

A key to keeping organised at university is to make sure all your lecture notes, assignment notes, reading notes, handouts, actual assignments are all kept somewhere you can find them, somewhere that makes sense and somewhere where they are all together.

Above you can see how I organise my digital folders, there’s a folder for every year, Semester 1 and 2, then I have the Module and then inside the module I have whatever is needed to go in there. I like to keep everything separated so lecture notes have their own folder, any assignment related documents have their own folder and vice versa. Everything is suitably named and accessible. See example below!

Everything is kept together and just so easy to find. When it’s coming to deadline season and you need those week eight lecture notes for the last paragraph of your 3,000 word essay you’ll thank yourself for spending a few minutes organising all your folders.

With physical copies, I have a folder, again, for each module and every week is kept in order alongside the readings etc. Some tutors do everything in paper, lecture notes, hand-outs, readings whereas others will keep it all digital (yay) so it’s up to you how you best see fit to organise everything!

Use an app like CamScanner to transfer paper copies to digital copies so easily! You simply take a photo of the document and the app will transform it into a PDF, image (etc) in near-perfect quality saving you scanning everything. Life changing!
Keeping Organised at University
Keeping Organised at Univeristy

04. Create a Productive study area

You’ll probably find that your student accommodation is uglllllly. Don’t get me wrong; some universities and landlords have got it right and given us students some decent places to live but nine times out of ten I guarantee that where you have to live for most of the year is just a little bit ugly, but unless you want to spend 24/7 in the library, it’s a good idea to make sure that your desk area offers you the productivity and inspiration you need.

I like to keep my study area as clutter free as possible but I do try to make it a little bit pretty. A few motivational prints here and there (Etsy is peeerfect for this), a nice pen pot, perhaps some fake flowers to spruce it up, a nice lamp. Don’t forget some pretty notebooks to keep the desk looking lovely.

Landlord depending, you may be able to stick stuff on your walls (always ask, most prefer pins as Bluetack can rip the paint off) so get your weekly planners up there, perhaps some photographs and some inspiring prints to keep it pretty yet practical.

The point is; a tidy, practical desk can help with your concentration and whatnot; keeps your mind happy which is what you’re going to need for that 5pm deadline!

Keeping Organised at University

05. Set Reminders

Even if you’re one hundred percent focused on what you have to do to reach any deadlines and whatnot, there still may be a small chance that you’re forgetting something.

I like to set myself reminds to just give myself that little extra help when it comes to remembering and juggling everything. For the first two weeks or so,just whilst I’m getting back into a routine, I’ll set an reminder for my lectures so that it tells me what room I’m in, what module it is and if I need to bring anything.

When it comes to later in the term, I’ll set reminders about assignments. For example, one week before an assignment is due I’ll set an reminder just to help me work out how much time I have left; you’ll be surprised at how easy you forget. I’ll do this as soon as I get the assignment just to help me out.

Anything else important; tutor meetings, if I have to email someone at a certain time etc all get a reminder too.

It maaaay sound slightly excessive, but ever since I started to do this at the end of last term, I found I was so much more aware of everything going on and wasn’t caught in a last-minute panic if I barely remembered something!

The Reminders app that comes with your phone is good enough for this but if you have an iPhone you can also set your calendar to give you alerts whenever you want/need them. This of course ties everything together. But have a look on the app store and see what best fits you!

06. Backup Your Work

This is the most valuable lesson that you will ever learn at university. Oh, that and the fact that 9am lectures are killer. Please, please, please don’t be that person having a university stress related breakdown in the library an hour before your deadline because your computer crashed and you lost the essay you just spend a month researching and writing. It happens. It’s happened to a few of my friends. It happened to me when Microsoft Office crashed. We’ve all had a piece of work lost after something has gone wrong with one of our devices, or an tragic accident.

Save your work constantly and make duplicates of everything. Thanks to the Cloud and Apple being so wonderfully integrated; I can upload documents into the cloud as a back-up. They get stored and I can then access that document from my phone, tablet or laptop, which also means if my laptop decides to ever crash and burn on me, all is not lost.

I also save copies of my essay and notes onto a separate hard drive. But, of course, a pen drive or USB stick is fine for this as well.

The message is simple: ALWAYS have atleast two copies of your work and not on the same device. If you have an Apple device (or several) I would 100% recommend uploading your important documents to the Cloud. Not only are they safe there, you can access them from any other Apple device using your iCloud account. It’s genius and I wish I had worked this out before!

What are your number one tips for keeping yourself organised? 

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