Getting a degree is hard work. There are no two ways to say it. The trick to success is all about organising your workload and staying ahead of the game. But you’ve never had to organise work at this level before have you?
Don’t worry. We have put together the ultimate guide to staying organised while you work towards a degree.
The desk in your room, whether it’s halls or a shared house, is going to be the hub of your working life. If it’s cluttered with files, fag ends, and empty beer cans, it won’t induce a working attitude. We recommend that you keep your desk as clean as possible, but we understand that some people have method to their madness and work in organised chaos.
There are a few desk essentials to help keep you organised:
- Keep a whiteboard above your monitor to keep track of deadlines, work that’s been complete, and ongoing projects to glance at on the fly.
- Store snacks like fruit and nuts on the desk for when you’re working long stints on projects. There’s nothing worse than trying to work on an empty stomach.
- Buy a nice lamp for the desk. You will be working at 1 AM and you’ll want some decent lighting to read you textbooks in.
- A new chair. Halls will provide you with a chair for your desk, but it won’t be a comfortable one. Remember, you’ll be spending long hours studying in that chair, so make sure you purchase a comfortable one.
- Hang a clock next to your whiteboard. It’s good to monitor how long a certain piece of work has taken you. Plus, you’ll want to check the time and you shouldn’t have your smartphone to hand. It’ll only act as a distraction.
It might be tempting to try and juggle all of your university projects at once. We recommend against this. Most professionals agree that multi tasking actually has a negative impact on your work. It’s best to block your time and work on one project in its entirety. Finish it. And then move on to the next.
This also ensures that the work you’re completing for one project has your undivided attention, guaranteeing a higher standard.
Buy a planner
There’s a lot to remember when it comes to university. From lecture times to tutor names and emails – it’s all easily forgotten. Purchase a planner and map out each week. Keep note of deadlines in your planner too, checking it every day.
They’re a great way to stay on top of your deadlines!
Don’t want to carry a physical planner round? Use your smartphone or tablet’s calendar.
Like we said, your workload is going to get on top of you at some point. When it feels like it’s becoming too much, take a day off. These breaks are vital when it comes to staying fuelled and motivated to do the work you have.
Take breaks when working over longer projects too. If you sit at your desk for eight hours straight you’re going to become stressed and rush through tasks. Go out for a run, nip to the pub with friends, watch a film – just get away from work for a while. It can make a huge difference.
Download helpful tools
Organising your university life doesn’t have to be difficult. There are an incredible amount of tools available to help you stay on top of your work. Some are bad, some good – you need to find which ones are a best fit for the way you work. Some good ones include:
Evernote: This is a free app that can be downloaded to your phone, desktop, and used on the web. It’s essentially a virtual notebook, allowing you to store research articles, pictures, news pieces and anything else you think you might want to hand. Evernote shines in the organising of this information, allowing you to tag each item so that you can find it almost immediately.
Noisli: Halls are often loud. Don’t let your drunk flatmate put you off your flow. Plug in your headphones and put Noisli on. It offers a range of ambient sounds that you can mix and match. It has a timer too, so you can keep track of how long that research article has taken you.
Super Notes: This is just one example of a voice recorder that you can download for your phone. You pick whichever one you prefer. Why do you need a voice recorder on your phone? So you don’t have to frantically write down everything your lecturer is saying!
Google Keep: This is a great app for writing down notes on the fly. Think of some wonderful topic for your dissertation? Come up with a great research topic? You can have it written down and saved in a matter of seconds with Keep.
Know that we’re not all the same
Remember that these are tips for staying organised at university. Most people have their own methods and routines that work for them. Use your first semester to experiment how you’re going to keep on top of your workload, trying the things we’ve listed above. Also remember that your university will help offer advice when it comes to staying organised with work and even your money!