How to Stay Organised and Productive as a University Student

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,

Mol x

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The Ultimate University Guide: Advice on Moving into Student Accommodation

All those of you who are starting university this year will be moving into your student accommodation in a few weeks’ time so I thought this would be the perfect time to start my university series here on my blog, as I was in the same position a year ago! I am now going in to my second year at the University of Birmingham, where I study English Language.

It seems like a good idea to start with the first main part of the ‘uni experience’ now that you have got your place confirmed, and this is moving in! Looking back now, it is actually quite a strange concept, moving to a brand new city, into a flat you’ve never seen before, with several people you have never met before, so it’s perfectly normal to feel like this is a very daunting experience!

I’ve put together 5 tips for moving in that ensure your moving in experience will be as easy and enjoyable as possible…

1.Get the move in date in your diary NOW

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This was the view from my room!

Firstly, make sure your move in day is in your calendar and that whoever is taking you and all your stuff up to university has it in their calendar too. Your university accommodation should have emailed you to say what day you can move in from, there may be a specific time frame too as this makes it easier so not everyone moves in at the exact same time! If you are anything like me, and who ever is taking you does not always work in the country or on a 9-5 schedule, then make sure as soon as you know your move in date, you tell them when they need to be around! You want to make this process as stress free as possible and you don’t want to realise at the last minute that you have enough stuff to fill a large 4×4 car (lol I did) and nobody to help you get there! Most people I know didn’t take their cars up in first year, if you are near the centre of a large city like I was, then it’s probably more of a burden than a help, but consider this before you go.

2. Pack your stuff up as logically as you can

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We split up all the stuff I was taking into the different rooms it would be going in: kitchen, bedroom and bathroom (I was lucky enough to have an en-suite). This just makes it a lot easier, as you won’t be having to go between rooms with loads of bags and wondering why you packed your toothbrush in with your fairy liquid, and your salt and pepper in with your pyjamas. Laundry bags or Ikea bags were what we used to bag it all up, would 10/10 recommend you use these! They are big enough that you can fit lots in them, but don’t fill them so full that you can’t lift them. My flat was on the second floor of my student accommodation and because this is student halls we’re talking about, there isn’t a lift so bear this in mind in case you have a trek up a lot of stairs. Your halls should have parking very nearby so it shouldn’t be too far a distance to carry everything.

3. Bring the personal stuff as well as the practical stuff

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Obviously you do need to bring all the practical things for your student survival, the pots and pans and laundry detergent and stationary galore. But also remember that this little space is going to be your home for an academic year (I say academic year as we know it’s not an actual year, because uni holidays are long WOOHOO). I printed off so many photos, and luckily there was a big pin board in my room when I got there which I filled entirely, throughout the year I also ended up sticking them on my walls and I also had a lot of postcards up on another wall, so take anything like this that you think will make the space feel like yours!

If you are also in two minds about taking too many little bits and bobs for your room, for example I took picture frames, my mini cactus’s and various other trinkets, take them! I took a few too many as my room was very small (don’t expect your room to be big!) and my parents just took them back home again in the car after we had unpacked. It’s better taking too much than not taking enough and then feeling like your room is bare and not your own.

4. Socialise!

You are likely to be moving in on the same day as your flatmates so make sure you speak to them and introduce yourself! Everyone will be busy unpacking and saying goodbye to people but you can all chat and start getting to know each other once you feel like you’ve got yourself organised. If you are nervous about meeting your flatmates, just remember that everyone else is in exactly the same boat! It will make you feel a lot better if you start introducing yourselves as it will make you start feeling a lot more comfortable after your parents (or whoever has dropped you off) leave, as you’ll know a little bit more about who you are living with. Even if you are feeling nervous, be polite and friendly and it might help to tell people that you feel a bit anxious, it is likely they’ll be feeling it too! Also it sounds a bit odd, but if you leave your room door open, when people are walking past or arriving it shows that you’re not shutting yourself away in your room and means people will tend to look in and it’s a very easy way to start chatting to people!

5. Familiarise yourself with the area you will be living in

After I had unpacked everything, before my parents drove home we decided to go for a little drive around the area. We drove from my accommodation to my uni and back again, which was about a 10 minute drive each way, this was so helpful because it meant that I knew how to get to uni and also where the bus stops were, both for getting to the university and to the city centre. Also, something I found helpful was that when we did this drive, I filmed a time lapse of where we were going on my phone so that if I forgot the first couple of times where I was meant to get off the bus, or if I was walking the right way, I could just look back at the video and check! Luckily there was an Aldi a couple of minutes walk away, and a few other shops opposite our halls, but if you want to do the same for seeing where your closest shop or doctor is etc. then go for a little explore! Feeling a bit more familiar with the area you are can make you feel so much better. I know for me, moving from a village to one of the UK’s biggest cities, it felt very overwhelming but familiarising the area makes it somehow feel a little smaller and a lot more manageable.

Thanks for reading, if you are heading off to university then good luck, I hope this was helpful!

Hope you are having a fab day wherever you are,

Mol x

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