College can be difficult, even if you have prepared. Below are some tips to assist and potentially improve study and organizational skills.
Establish Healthy Habits
Set a routine for yourself. It’s been said it takes about three weeks for a new routine or habit to ‘stick’ or become a natural inclination. Be patient with yourself, but remain disciplined. Some things to think about when establishing your routine:
1. Allow yourself at least 6 hours of sleep each night. This allows your brain and body to re-charge.
2. Eat healthy meals. (Yes, that means fruits and veggies too!) A local resource is the Purdue Extension Office.
3. Take breaks. Productivity is important, yes, but you also need time to decompress and rejuvenate. Some studies have shown that short breaks throughout your day actually increase productivity.
Plan ahead. Give yourself enough time to complete the tasks assigned to you.
Maintain a motivated attitude. One of the best ways to ensure you remain motivated is to find an accountability partner. Choose a friend, mentor, or classmate to help keep you on track. Ask them to hold you accountable to your plans by answering these questions:
1. What will you do… (what’s the next step, planning or prepping needed, what’s plan B if plan A falls through, etc.)?
2. By when will you… (complete your assignment, clean your room, schedule that appointment, etc.)?
3. How will I know… (when your task is complete, you’ve been successful, accomplished your goal, etc.)?
How to Schedule a Calendar
Find a calendar or planner in a format that works for you. Perhaps a simple weekly planner with boxes for each day would work best. Another option would be using a white board to write in obligations for a week or two at a time. It’s a great, quick visual.
- First, start scheduling your calendar with fixed appointments. Fixed appointments are those obligations you are unable to change. Examples would be classes, times to pick up your kids, job schedules or events/appointments you are committed to such as a support group, volunteering or church.
- Secondly, fill in the time with those things that are non-negotiable, but somewhat flexible in scheduling. This would be responsibilities such as your homework, studying for exams, grocery shopping, paying bills, or potentially appointments with the doctor, dentist or hair stylist.
- Finally, schedule the items that you would enjoy, if time allows. Perhaps you would enjoy spending a weekend with your friends or family or have a hobby you enjoy in your free time. It is always good to take time for breaks. Remember to allow yourself to enjoy and decompress from the ‘to-dos’ vying for your attention.
Creating ‘To-do’ Lists:
There are many different strategies to creating to do lists. Stick to pen and paper or try one of these options:
- List with check boxes. This is a standby. If it seems too overwhelming, perhaps keep a small notebook and create lists based on projects or assignments. Tasks will then be organized by project.
- White board or Poster Project Managers—using a cork, poster and white board, divide the space into columns labeled: Plan, In Progress, and Almost Due. Use notecards or sticky notes to track assignments, tests and projects. Move cards as the assignments progress through the stages.
- 3-2-1 Prep Planner—the idea is to work backward from the end goal. If you know the end result, but aren’t sure how to start, try this strategy by working step-by-step backwards.
Resource: David R. Parker, Ph.D. (CRG, 2011)
Task Management Assistance
- Track assignments using a paper or electronic calendar. Seeing responsibilities in writing can assist with visualizing your week. Still having difficulties remembering? Make time each week to set alarms or reminder notes for all your appointments.
- Set up automatic alerts on mobile devices or calendars (Google, Outlook, etc.)
- Use virtual sticky notes on your computer for reminders
- Record information on your phone/tablet to remember later. Voice recording, typing a note or taking pictures are good ways to do this.
- Create a filing system that works for you. Use file folders or notebooks to organize each course. Color code to help visually see which material is paired together for specific projects, homework or research.
Resource: Beth Waite, MA-CCC/SLP-ATP (Children’s Resource Group)