It’s almost time to start preparing for the fall semester! Who’s excited?!
Today, I am going to try to explain something that is super helpful to me. I’m not sure how effectively it will translate into a blog post but I sure am going to try! Let me know if y’all still find it difficult and I may end up making it into my first video ever! (eek)
I recently received a request from one of my most charming readers asking how I utilize the Semester Spreadsheet. Which I have decided is an absolutely brilliant question. Immediately, I realized that I left out the step between How to Create a Semester Spreadsheet and Organized Study Time.
And that step is this: How do you decide what to study and when?
Here is what works for me:
Create your Semester Assignment Spreadsheet. This is a single piece of paper that contains all of your assignments for all of your classes in chronological order. Kind of like a checklist for the entire semester. It keeps you on track with your next due date. Your next assignment. And it does it all without forcing you to check multiple syllabi on a daily basis. Once you have created this oh-so-helpful step, you will be ready for step 2! (or you could skip this altogether… toootally up to you).
This is something that you’re (hopefully) already doing! Go through your planner and write down all of your due dates for all of your classes (I told you it was something you were already doing)! The only thing that’s special about this is to use the same color for all of your due dates (I use pink because it grabs my attention the most easily). I write my due dates into my monthly view in pink, then I move on to the daily view of my planner…
So, I’m just going to use this Content Exam as an example. I would go to the date that the Content Exam is due and write it in pink. Then I would go to the 1-2 days before it’s due and write it in purple. Then I would go to 3, 4, and 5 and write it in blue. Then I would go to 6, 7, 8, and 9 days before and write it in green. Once I see an assignment written in green, I usually know it’s time to start on it (think “green light”). The 10, 11, 12, 13, and 14 days before something is due, I write it in orange. When I see something written in orange, it just reminds me that it’s in my queue, on deck, or upcoming.
Use different colors to prioritize upcoming assignments. This is the color-coding system that I use. If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you may recognize these colors because I also use them to organize my personal planner. That’s the main reason that I usually like to keep a separate calendar/planner somewhere for my schoolwork. Those little dated notepads from Target’s Dollar Spot are pretty ideal. Because, even though the big, important dates are in my personal planner, I don’t want to clutter it up with mundane things like “read chapter 3”.
Is that too OCD-ish sounding?
Let me draw you a little picture (literally)!
Let’s just say that the picture below depicts the “life cycle” of an assignment on my calendar. It first shows up in my planner two weeks in advance, as a low-priority task (orange). If I get started on it then, I have a head start. If not, it’s still in my subconscious… beginning to create that nagging “I need to do this” feeling. By the time it “turns green”, work on the project definitely needs to be underway.
Most (not all) assignments can be thoroughly completed in a week or two!
Any Normal Person: “You seriously write each assignment into your school planner 15 times?”
Me: "Yes. Yes, I do."
Any Normal person: “But why on earth would you waste your time doing that?!”
Me: "Because I know it’s the beginning of the semester and there isn’t much else to do. I also know that there will soon be a time (mid-semester) when there will be everything to do. All at once. And on those days, it is so incredibly helpful to sit down, open my school planner, and know exactly where I should start!"
THE FINISHED PRODUCT:
Eventually, every day of your schoolwork planner should look something like the picture above. You will have every day’s study time planned out and will be ready to get started. You will open the planner and know exactly which assignments take top priority, what takes second priority, and what is in your “queue” for the next couple of weeks. There are no surprises this way. And you’ll totally forgive me for making you write it all out at the beginning of the semester (hopefully)!
Now, don’t think that I haven’t noticed that this is completely obsessive and insane. Oh, I have noticed. But it is so incredibly helpful to me that I couldn’t imagine starting a new semester without it! :)
How do you keep up with what you need to study and when?
Do you keep a separate planner for school assignments or just put everything into one?