Being at university we all know the struggle of finding what you need and having all the information and material ready exactly when you need it. Some use email to give you information, some use some kind of platform and last but not least others just assume you just know anyways. Of course, some courses are well organized but it gets messy when you have to rely on lecturers to give you the structure for your materials. That’s simply why we wanted to give you some tips on how to improve your organization for all university related things.
First and foremost, create a digital space for all your materials. Since everything is digital (even more so since we are all “enjoying” distance learning right now) we recommend creating a system for all your files. Just as an example you could first sort by year (or semester), then by the different subjects or courses and if you want to get even more detailed you can still create folders inside your courses for presentations, exam preparation and reading material (or any other way that is reasonable for you). It almost doesn’t matter which kind of folders and sub-folders you add to your system as long as it’s clear for you what to find where. Once you have your system, stick to it and it will make it so much easier to find the materials you are looking for.
Since different courses might be using different means of communication (email, Moodle, Microsoft Teams, etc.), the easiest way to stay on top of all the materials, readings and presentations is saving it right away to your own laptop once something is uploaded or sent to you. Getting used to always saving everything might take some time but it saves a lot of trouble when looking for materials which you need for assignments or studying. Using this trick, the question “Where do I find the reading list for this exam again?” will no longer be your problem because you’ve already saved it to your own device.
One thing we find super useful is saving the material on a cloud service. This makes it extremely easy to work on different devices like on your laptop, you tablet or even your phone. A service which we like is MEGA since you have 50 GB free and just need to create an account an that’s it!
So now we’ve got a system for all the “external” materials, so let’s get on to your notes. It can be difficult to keep all the notes from your lectures together and organized. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a person who takes a lot of notes or you’re the kind that only takes down bullet points, keeping all the stuff in one place is helpful for exam prep later on. So, the key is finding the right way (for you) to take down your notes and then keeping this way until the end of your course. Programs like Word (one document for one course or something like this) and OneNote work on tablets as well as on laptops, Notability (works on Macs as well) or GoodNotes are apps for tablets and great each in their own way, basically you can choose which advantages you like best and pick the perfect fit for you. Working on a tablet and a laptop we’d like to suggest you use a program which allows for you to work efficiently and have a smooth workflow. From there on you can (if that’s something you enjoy) work on making your notes themselves more structured and using the tools of the program you are working with in the most efficient way possible.
Deadlines, Exam and Presentation Dates
Now the above-mentioned tips and tricks are all concerning digital resources, however, if you want to, you can transfer the following two to an analogue version as well! So here we go: firstly, having a dedicated space for all your deadlines, exam dates and presentation and so on. Ideally, it’s the same planner or calendar where all your other appointments are noted down so you have everything at one glance. A very practical version is using the calendar on your phone, since you can create different sub-calendars each with their own color. Like this you can see right away which entries are presentations, exams and so on. Again, here you can use whatever refined system fits best for your studies. The analogue version would be a classic paper planner which is especially fun for creative people who love to individualize their planners as much as possible.
Secondly, is a dedicated place for all your to-do’s. It really doesn’t matter where you keep track, but it can be really helpful to write them down. Written on a post-it or somewhere else you get visually reminded of the things you still have to do. But what is even better, is that you can put a huge checkmark in front of the task once it’s done! And who doesn’t love checking off tasks? Some ways we like to keep track are post-its, regular paper-based lists, apps like Microsoft To-Do, the notes app on your phone or just a little booklet if you like to step up the analogue version a little. Again, the way you do it is completely up to you, as long as you can visually see all the things you’ve accomplished. Visualizing your success is great for your motivation and will always lift your spirit a bit!
Now that we’ve told you about some of our secrets to stay on top of your stuff, we hope to have inspired you to try some of the mentioned tricks out yourselves. Most importantly however, enjoy your studies! We all know the feeling of being unmotivated and overwhelmed from time to time and not really knowing where to start with the huge amount of reading, writing and studying. But always look where you want to be once you’re done and it will hopefully spark some joy in you. You’ve got this!