Enjoyed Part 1 of our Organising your Studies blog? Definitely check it out if you haven’t already, as we gave lots of handy advice and suggestions to consider when planning your studies and routine.
Without further ado, we’ll now take you into Part 2, that will give you a whistle-stop tour on study techniques and technology you can use to help you organise your studies…
Make use of student apps and websites
Here are some highly recommended student-related applications to help make your life a little bit easier.
To organise your studies, check out some of these virtual planners and To-Do list makers –– Any.do, my Homework Student Planner, Studious, Clear.
For taking notes, play around with apps like Evernote and Office Lens.
If you need some help with referencing, save yourself some time with EasyBib, ReferenceMe, and CiteThisForMe.
For exam revision, you might find it easy to use IMindMap and Quizlet
Save your work!
So simple, but often overlooked! It is so important to keep track of your studies and progress. Organising your work into folders are by far the easiest and most efficient way to keep things on your desk nice and tidy. Whether you keep folders on your computer device or have ring binders to store printouts and your handwritten notes, folders are the key to keeping your stuff well-organised.
Most importantly, remember to save AND back up your work on your computer (and USB or external hardrive). You’ll be surprised to know how many students lose their work due to technological malfunctions so it’s really important that you make sure that you save your folders on Dropbox, Google Drive, or an external hard drive/USB.
If you decide to make use of ringbinders, make use of binder dividers to keep your notes from lectures, readings, and classes separately. You should also try and keep some kind of technique to keep things in order, whether you decide to do things chronologically or thematically.
In terms of taking notes, you need to make sure that you are able to go back and actually make sense of your work. Depending on whether you write on paper of type on your computer, it usually takes some time to figure out your most efficient note-taking system.
Generally-speaking, students often find it useful to write in multi-level bullet points as this will also allow you to divide points into subsections which are really handy in terms of visualisation and organising your thoughts.
Whether you are writing on paper or typing on Word, you can also try and make use of colour-coding (i.e. font colour, highlighting) to help tie together some themes and topics for revision purposes. Remember to also make use of the font formats (i.e. bold/italics/underline) to help highlight key arguments or words for future reference.
Bearing in mind that you will be making a lot of notes in lectures, on readings, and seminars, it is important to find a way to piece things together in a way what enables you to best make sense of the course content (you will figure this out yourself).
Account for your learning style
While creating your schedule is a key part to organising your studies, you also need to figure out how you are going to approach your studies. For instance, if you are a visual learner, colours and drawing might help you when making notes on lectures and readings. If you are more of an auditory learner, listening to podcasts and recorded lectures may be more beneficial than simply reading and taking notes.
Some students find it very useful to have small support systems whereby readings are split between two or three and reading notes are exchanged between one another. This may be a good system to try out initially in the first few weeks of term as you can learn how your fellow course mates take notes on the same course materials.
Later in the term, you can decide to continue this system or, if you’re feeling more confused (due to the differences in learning styles), reflect on what you’ve learned and settle on what technique that suits your learning best. Nevertheless, it is really useful to have support groups to discuss your lectures, readings, and exam revision with people on your course(s).
A good headspace and workspace
One of the most important ways to boost productivity while studying is to ensure that you are in tip-top condition. From being well-rested to being fully hydrated, it is key that you are in a comfortable headspace so that you can make the most of the hours you are putting into your studies. For some students, this can include having a comfortable study spot and having a pot of coffee or tea to keep you going with your readings.
Rewards and being realistic
We've said it before and we'll say it again! Why? Because it's one of the most important things you can do when organising your studies.
Remember to also organise some time apart for non-academic activities, like sports, socialising, and winding down. Throughout the week, try and organise some virtual dinners or activities with members of your household or bubbles; it is important to give your brain a break, so try and organise some time for play!
If you’re in the middle of a long reading or writing session, the same applies – take several breaks (at least two an hour) away from the computer. There are countless studies to show how this can actually boost your concentration and brain capacity, ultimately resulting in a better output – and let’s face it, we all want our hard work to pay off the best it can!
Finally, it is vitally important that you only fit in what you can. Don’t try and be that person who crams too many things in during the week – it’s not sustainable, productive and it certainly isn’t healthy. Balance is key!
At the end of the day, university for some is a once in a lifetime experience, and is about much more than what you learn in the classroom. Make sure you are enjoying LSE and getting the most out of your time here, by taking steps (like the ones we have outlines) to ensure your work-life-study balance is a good, healthy and happy one.