Organisation Tips for a Successful Semester
Charlotte Lloyd discusses what keeps her motivated and some tips that you can take on to get the most out of your semester.
University is different now, more than ever before. But, it is also different from what is expected when leaving high school. They always tell you when you leave high school that, ‘university lecturers won’t chase you up with assessments, it’s all on you’. When I left high school, I took this semi-seriously. During my first semester of my first year, someone told me two days into the semester that it was ‘way’ easier than high school. I mean it would be gullible to believe it but as each semester starts it is easy-breezy. There is no stress, there are no assessments, but as the weeks continue, the content builds and so does the stress and any organisation that was put into place at the start of the semester goes out the window.
I know we’ve all fallen victim to sitting there the night or even day before an assessment, completing all of it in one sitting before submitting it without a second thought. Cramming study the day before the test is a lack of organisation. I’ve done it, you’ve done it. It kind of comes with the territory.
Below are a few of my major tips on organisation to get you through a successful semester with, let’s hope, very few crammed study sessions and assessments.
- Calendar your due dates:
The most important part of any course are the assessments or exams. All the content you’re learning is for a reason so even if you don’t attend every lecture or tutorial, at least try to learn as much content for the benefit of your assessments. I don’t care what anyone says, but keeping all your assessments in your head just doesn’t work. Having to remember all the dates and weightings will just end up being harder for yourself. One way to do this is to simply write it on your calendar, and if you don’t have a hard copy calendar, at least put it in your laptop or phone.
The way that I keep my assessments in order is I divide them into courses. On the desktop of my laptop I am able to create ‘sticky notes,’ which then allows me to write whatever I like inside it. By writing out the course name and the assessments in order of when they’re due (based on the date) and their weighting I am able to keep track. It is also extremely helpful having them somewhere you’re always looking because everyone is on their laptop a lot for uni which means they’re never out of sight.
- Try to attend as many tutorials as you can:
I know there are people that can defy the norm, but it is proven that the people that attend their tutorials are more likely to do well in the course than those who do not. Sure there is enough content in the lectures, but tutorials extend on this content a lot of the time and explain it in ways that are much more understandable and often more enjoyable too.
There’s no doubt why lectures are also uploaded online – lecturers know that not every single person enrolled will attend – but there is a reason why tutorials aren’t online. It is a much more valuable resource and by not attending its often much more wasted than you would think. This is also not me preaching to be an overall HD achiever who attends all their classes. No, this is to say that by attending more tutorials than not, you’re probably going to enjoy the class, the contentm and your teachers a lot more.
- Keep appointments and other activities in check:
In the past, I have missed appointments and commitments or double-booked with friends when I had something already planned, and this all happens because of stress. It is important to have outlets with friends, especially on a regular basis to make sure you’re no crumbling under the pressure and still staying afloat during the semester. And while appointments, whether compulsory or by choice, also need to be kept in check, scheduling your life down to every minute of the day is the wrong way to approach it, but by not scheduling time with friends and for other things, that is when things like double-booking, forgetting, or running late all happen.
It is so imperative to not be doing uni every second of every day, but just like how you have a uni timetable and scheduled times to study, go to class, etc, the same should go for your other commitments, like sport and errands. A lot of success in semester often comes from routine, however scheduling with friends can be hard – I for one am always on spontaneous adventures or trips somewhere with friends, and those are things you just can’t plan for. All I am saying is that it helps a lot if you schedule the commitments you’ve made to a social sport team or a doctor’s appointment or an after-hours activity, then at least you know you can organise things around it. Doing this not only eases stress but allows also for time to breathe in between a busy social life.
- Take time for yourself:
No matter how much of a social butterfly someone is, everyone at some point or another needs time to themselves. This could be after a full day at uni and the one moment of peace is having dinner watching Netflix, or someone getting lost in a good book is also one of the main ways to forget about stress. Uni can be very difficult and pre-COVID days, any spare minute was almost always spent socialising. The pandemic that seems to just go on and on has brought clarity to some people though, including myself. Not having enough down-time by yourself can often be what is most needed.
Everyone wants a successful semester (well most people do), and this is not a sign to go ahead and bludge and claim it’s going to help you be more successful. This is to de-stress after spending copious amounts of time learning content. This is to unwind and let yourself just be without having to worry about upholding expectations to friends to socialise or whatever it may be.
Successful semesters are not always based on what you do in the course and can be rather caused by time spent socialising, exercising, having downtime when you need it, and even what you fuel your body with to get you through. I am no saint and this is not telling you what you’ve done wrong, but to recognise that with mental health being impacted greatly because of the pandemic, we need to make sure that we are organised and balanced in what we are doing…in order to have a successful semester.
Feature Image: Bea King, Yak Media Designer