Self-organization in studies
Many students don’t realize it, but self-organization is one of the most important skills you need to successfully complete your studies. Many universities even offer courses that teach you the most important basics of self-organization.
Most things are taken care of for you at school. You get a fixed timetable, the options are limited and you always know when the next exam is due. Things are different at university. Here you have to think about what subject you want to study and what your day should look like. Do you go to every class or just look at the summaries? In which semester do you write which exam? What topic do you cover in your homework?
During your studies, you can plan your day yourself so that you can also plan things that are not directly related to completing your studies: Part-time jobs, hobbies, social life, volunteer positions and much more. Or if you have decided on distance learning: This usually takes place part-time and you have to find time after work to practice and study. You have more responsibility than when you were at school and you have to take responsibility for what you find important. At the same time, this is also a great opportunity to organize your life the way you want it.
Every course of study is different – think about which type of structure suits you best. We will give you some general tips that will help you better organize your studies so that you always have fond memories of your time as a student.
Self-organization for beginners: Keep a calendar and to-do lists
A well-maintained calendar is an important tool for planning your everyday life. Even if it seems banal: You should remember to put every exam date, every library loan or assignment deadline, and every important party on your calendar. This way you can make sure you don’t worry about missed appointments.
What your calendar looks like is a matter of taste. Depending on your preference, you can do it either traditionally on paper or digitally on your cell phone. With a digital calendar you have the advantage that most calendars synchronize across different devices via the cloud and your entries are not lost if your cell phone dies. However, if you find a printed calendar clearer and easier, there are many different formats you can choose from.
Another good tool for self-organization are to-do lists. Just create different lists for different periods of time: What do you want to do tomorrow, within the next few months, by the end of the year? This makes it easier for you to prioritize and keep everything you set out to do.
Lectures and seminars: Take good notes!
Most events at the university will be lectures or seminars. Studying before exams or writing term papers will be easier if your documents are well sorted. In many cases, you will receive a script or the teacher’s presentation in advance of the event. It may be useful to use these as a basis during the lecture and add your own notes during the event, either printed or in a digital format, depending on your preference.
Self-organization is also important on your computer. Create a clear folder structure so that you can always find important files. Also consider whether you want to use cloud or local backups to prevent losing important files. This is particularly important when it comes to homework! Despite general digitalization, you will still have to deal with a lot of handwritten documents and printouts.
Many students like this because they don’t want to read and write everything on one screen. Organized filing becomes even more fun with a beautiful folder: Buy a nice folder or order a folder in your desired design online.
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During exam phases: Make a plan!
As the end of the lecture period and the next exam phase approaches, you should plan time to study early. Especially at the beginning of your studies, don’t try to pass as many exams as possible in one phase. Learning at university is different than at school and you first have to learn to correctly assess the workload. So don’t overwhelm yourself.
Talk to other students in the course about what they want to learn and what techniques they use. Maybe you can get some good tips here. But it’s also important to remember: Don’t let it drive you crazy or stress you out – different students use different methods that work best for them.
When doing homework, be sure to plan time to have your work proofread. Especially at the beginning you have to learn how to work properly with academic papers. You will see that with each term paper you will be able to find a topic more easily and work on it across many pages. Your smartphone can also help you with your self-organization if you use an app for your time management or an app for your class schedule.
Find the right learning method for you
Every person learns differently. It may be that you remember content best if you recite it, read it, listen to it, or write it down by hand. If you don’t like studying alone, you’ll definitely find someone in your course of study who can do the exam preparation with you. The start of your studies is a good time to try out a few new methods and find your optimal learning method.
Your workspace is also important for proper learning. This can also look very different, as long as you can concentrate here. Try out what suits you: Sitting in the library, finding a place to study outside, listening to music – there are a lot of options when choosing and setting up your favorite study place. When trying to concentrate, try not to allow yourself to be distracted, such as by your smartphone.