Monday, 19 March 2012

My University Experience... - Part 4 - Organisation Tips

Hey Everyone!
This is going to be the final part of this little feature, I hope you've enjoyed it!

Tip Number One - Get your own study space!
 This is my desk. Not the most organised or tidy, but you have to make do with what you've got. I do have another desk in my room (I have an attic room) but it is right at the top of the ladder so I can't get a chair under it - my books live there instead. Halls already have desks built in, and most student houses provide desks as part of the standard bedroom furniture.

I don't actually do too much of my essay writing here (I don't have any exams this year), I find it difficult to work at home as there are too many distractions. I mainly write in the library, which is also easier when it comes to sourcing books as you don't have to carry them around with you. It's an odd thing, but if I'm in the library I feel guilty about procrastinating, even though I know that nobody is going to 'tell me off' so I get a lot of work done in there.

On the left hand side is my printer. I would seriously recommend having your own printer when you go to uni. Most uni libraries are on campus and in the second/third years if you don't have the luxury of living on campus, there is often a mad rush to get work printed for deadlines. The computer rooms are always busy. Printers are relatively cheap - mine was £50 - and so worth it. 

On top of the printer are books that I will use for essays/dissertation research, notebooks and folders in which any handouts or lecture slides are kept.

The right hand side is my make-up, deodorant, skin care stuff etc. As I don't have anywhere else to store it.

Tip Number Two - Organising Your Work
When it comes to note taking I am a neat freak. I underline (titles twice with a red pen), highlight and have been known to rewrite notes if they are too messy. I also only ever write in black ball point pen (Bic Biros are my favourites). 

I currently have 3 notebooks on the go. The one on the top left is new (yay!) and I bought it specifically for dissertation research. The notebook on the top right is my general notebook where I plan numerous essays, write down things I don't want to forget, make lists in and copy down things that I think are lovely and want to keep. This goes everywhere with me.

I write lists everyday. I write down what I want to achieve each day, often I don't complete the list, but then I know what needs to be done. List writing is the only way I actually get anything done as, although I do work hard, I am incredibly lazy and rubbish at getting myself motivated.

The Pukka Pad is my notebook I use in lectures and seminars in order to keep all the notes in one place.

These Project Books are, for me, the best way for me to take notes and keep them neat and in one place. The divider tabs make it easy to have all my notes for all of the modules I am taking in one place. I tried different ways of note taking - I used refill pads and put my notes into clear wallets in lever-arch files, but for me it just didn't work. I didn't like having messy notes. 

I also prefer A4 notebooks; my housemate uses one small A5 notebook for all her notes, which I guess is more convenient as it's much smaller but it would drive me up the wall. 

When it comes to handouts and lecture slides I store them in plastic wallets like these - colour coded to each module. I find printing out lecture slides really helpful as that way you don't have to rush in lectures to scribble down each piece of information.

Most universities have online learning sites - MMU uses Moodle, and tutors will often post the lecture slides on there. I find having a paper copy helpful as that way I can write notes on the slides as, during lectures, lecturers often ramble and expand on points on the powerpoints, so having a paper copy means I can write down what isn't on the powerpoint.

Tip Three - Organising Your Time

Bit of an obvious one but buy a diary. I keep all of my deadlines in here, alongside my shifts at work and other meetings/places where I need to be.
I never kept a diary until I came to university, but it is the easiest way to keep organised.
You can see in black and white what you need to do, and then what spare time you have. 

Other tips:
  • Sleep and eat well. It's easy to get caught up in late nights, but especially near a deadline, you need to sleep
  • Work out when you study best. For me, it's the afternoon, from 12-6pm. I have never ever been a morning person, so I only do serious essay work in the afternoon and use the mornings to read over notes or books. 
  • Don't work on your bed! I am guilty of this one too. It's just so comfy! But when I try to work on my bed I end up napping 100% guaranteed. Which results in waking up stressed and more often than not, not getting any actual work done.
  • Go to lectures/seminars! I know I've said it in a previous post, but it is the only way to get the most out of your modules. You're paying for it, you may as well attend
  • Organise a budget. I'm guilty of being a bit crap with money; everything is always tight towards the end of term. It can be simple though, just work out exactly how much rent and bills you'll be paying each term, and see what you have left. Jade has a feature on her blog called 'Frugal Fighters' which is full of tips to help with saving money
  • This a newly discovered tip for me - when it comes to essay writing, leave at least a couple of hours between writing the main bulk and writing the conclusion. Clear your head, get something to eat and relax. Then go back to the essay, reread and conclude. If needed, leave it another day and print it off, read through it and make sure that the structure is correct. My tutor gave me that tip and it has helped me massively.
All finished! I hope these posts have helped in some way.
If you want any 'study tips' then Meg has a video which may be helpful (it was to me!) especially for English students!

Thanks for reading x


  1. Hi Nicola

    This post really stands out to me. I really like how you organise yourself. I have been trying different ways to organise my uni work, but I am still yet to find one that works for me.

    Keep up the good work!


    1. I've only just seen this! Thanks very much :)! It took me ages to figure out a way that works for me, especially living out at uni with a small desk. Keep trying, because once you figure it out, it works wonders!

      Thanks you again :) xx

  2. Hi, I found this post today and I think it`s really useful! Thanks :)


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