I am about to go in to my final year of studying BA English Language at the University of Birmingham. I’ve found that certain habits and choices certainly make me much more motivated to get my work done and help me to do it in less time. Here are my top tips for being productive and organised as a uni student!
Create a Weekly Plan and Daily Plans
I create a list at the beginning of the week with all the things I need to get done and commitments that I need to attend. It might also be helpful to include social time on here if you struggle with time management. This then lets see you how much you have to fit in to one week and a rough idea of what days can be allocated to what tasks. I then create a daily plan each day so you can change anything that needs adding/you’ve done early. It also helps as this daily one can be more specific, which I find helps me stay focused. Writing tasks such as ‘Finish paragraph three and four of essay’ is easier to stick to and achieve than ‘do uni work’.
Having an academic planner is a new thing for me this year, but so far I am finding it really helpful for remembering events and things I need to complete week to week. Mine is from ‘Ink Outside the Box’ and is a lovely design and also has a great layout inside.
Download the App ‘Forest’ to Avoid Your Phone Distracting You
I absolutely love the concept of the Forest app, and I use it frequently when working. The app allows you to set a timer for how long you’d like to focus for (it can range from 10 minutes up to 2 hours). The app shows a tree growing for the amount of time you have chosen, and if you leave the app then the tree ‘dies’ and indicates that you’ve broken your focus. I usually set it for an hour at a time, and have a 15 minute break between if I have a lot of work to get done. It’s also great because each time you grow a tree, you earn tokens. Once you have 2500 tokens, you can choose to put that towards the app planting a real tree for you. So the app not only helps you concentrate but also helps with reforestation!
Use Study Playlists for Working
I find it very difficult to work for any length of time doing notes or essay planning without having some quiet music on in the background. I find playing classical music or film scores really help me to concentrate and help me stay motivated whilst working.
Have a Folder for Each Module on Your Course
At the start of each term, I use a different ring binder for each module. So for my final year I have five folders; one for my dissertation and the others for the four modules I am taking this year. This means that all the work for one module is one place, whether it’s lecture material, essay feedback or seminar notes. This means you are also unlikely to forget anything if you have something on like a seminar discussion, because everything is in the one folder that you can just pop in your bag. It might also help to have each folder look a bit different so you can easily identify them and not get them mixed up. I try to use different coloured ring binders so you know which one is which. You can also label the spine of them if that helps too. Dividers are another great addition to your folders if you are wanting to separate your work out in to sections.
Use Colour Coding in Your Notes/Essay Plans
I find that using highlighters for specific things in my notes not only makes them look better visually, but also helps me find information for essays. For example, I use an orange highlighter for key words and turquoise for the names of scholars/references. This then makes it much easier if you are planning an essay and are skimming through pages of notes to find a specific scholar or key word.
Use the Bookmarks Bar on Your Internet Browser
I have a folder for each year at university stored on my browser, the modules in each year, and then also additional folders for specific essays within those modules. This is helpful when trying to find and refer back to scholarship so you don’t lose all the links that you are using for a piece of work.
I hope these tips were useful if you are about to head in to another academic year!
Hope you are having a great day where ever you are in the world,