Artful Advice

How to get organized as a student – 10 productivity tips

Our guide for building study habits using an academic planner

How to get organized as a student – 10 productivity tips

Knowing how to get into helpful studying habits is a life lesson that will set students in good stead. With our ten top tips on how to get organized for school or college, you’ll sail through those corridors and classrooms. Using your time more effectively means you’ll get through work quicker, with more time to relax and hang out with friends.

1. Plan your whole academic year at a glance

Get yourself a coffee and a comfy spot, then fill out all of your important academic dates for the next 12 months in an academic planner. Think exam periods, vacations, essay deadlines, revision classes and post-exam celebrations. By dedicating time to write everything down, you can rest assured that you won’t forget anything important. Plus, when it comes to sorting out your study schedule, you can work backwards and figure out when to start revising or planning that essay.

2. Stick your timetable to the inside of your academic planner

We always suggest printing off your timetable for the term or semester and attaching it to the inside cover of your planner. If you’re feeling creative, you could even design one by hand and color-code it for ease. With your lesson, lecture or workshop schedule always to hand, planning your time day by day and week by week becomes simplified. You can expect what homework’s going to land on which day and which nights you want to free up for socialising or relaxing.

3. Write things down as soon as you hear them

As soon as you’re given any information that you need to remember, write it down. You never know when you’ll have a stressful day and suddenly forget your locker code or the library’s Wifi password. Make sure to ask questions about any exams or tasks, jotting down all the important details. Ensuring formatting is correct and you’ve hit all your requirements will help you get the best grades possible.

4. Create a study schedule

A study schedule is there to help you and make you feel a little more calm. Even on days when you don’t feel like studying, sitting down with your planner and seeing your schedule on the page can remind you of what you’ve got coming up. For tasks that need more time, like essay writing, give yourself two deadlines – one to have the first draft done, and the other as your final deadline when all editing, proofing and referencing is complete. A double deadline means that you have a bit of breathing room in case it takes longer than expected. Remember, your schedule is just a guide. It’s natural that some things may take more or less time than you think. So long as you stick to it most of the time, you should be able to get everything done.

5. Take notes by hand to better remember them

If you write something down by hand, you’ll remember it better. Writing down notes from your lectures or classes – even if the teacher gives you a handout or does a digital presentation – will also make it so much easier to start revising when the time comes.

6. Color code your notebook

By pairing each subject with a different shade, not only will your notebooks and planners put a spring in your step, but it will be easier to understand and remember the information. Looking for your homework tasks? Block out the other colors and just focus on blue. Wondering what’s going on next week in French class? Let your eyes dart for anything in green. It’s the paper-based version of the filter function on a spreadsheet.

7. Have a "done" pile and to-do list

Having a ‘to do’ and ‘done’ system is a top organization tip. When you sit down to start your homework, create a pile of what you need to do on one side, moving it to your ‘done’ pile when it’s completed. A to-do list gives you the same sense of achievement. Write down everything you’d like to do, ticking off tasks as you go.

8. Take strategic breaks

Planning to give your brain a break makes people more efficient. Plotting in those breaks (instead of taking them when you feel like it) means that when you get to your allocated break, there’s a real sense of achievement. Give your downtime structure too, so you can remain in the zone. A quick five-minute breather here and there is perfectly reasonable, or a longer break when you need it. Make sure you totally switch off, even if it’s just for a few minutes of breathing or a walk around the block.

9. Location, location, location

Some people need to be surrounded by books and silence to study. Some may hate the library, preferring the home comforts such as a sofa and slippers. There are no rules, it’s all about working out what suits you. Maybe you need a bit of both and changing up your location keeps your mind ticking along nicely.

10. Reward yourself for hard work

Don’t forget to celebrate your wins. Whether you’ve improved your grades, just finished a huge essay or simply studied when you said you would, it’s important to show yourself some love. Studying can be stressful, so make sure you look after yourself. Write a list of things you can do to show your self appreciation – cook a favorite meal, watch an old TV show or catch up with friends. You deserve it.

Ready to get organized? Explore our collection of academic planners.

Other stories we think you'll like