I know you’re probably dreading the start of the semester. You will need time saving tips on how to prepare each semester. The more you know about what awaits you, the more you can get ahead to help you be less overwhelmed during the process.
Here are time-saving tips on how to prepare every semester.
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Get your materials ready even if you don’t study:
You can print everything and arrange them in a binder. It does not have to be perfect, as long as they are an organized pile by subject (you are welcome to go a step further by punching holes and actually putting them in the binder). Label your assignments in order of priority. Go over the syllabus, mark whatever projects and activities you see.
Get a new planner in preparation for the whole year:
Write everything down in your calendar/planner. This will be an extension of your brain. I like the monthly view ones so I can see what’s ahead a month at a time. This is what I found to be effective in organizing my study planner. This will help you on how to manage your time.
Write in your planner when exams are due. Backtrack and schedule study time for that exam to include the topics even page numbers over to study for. The time to backtrack maybe two weeks prior or however long you think you need, depending on your other commitments.
Papers and projects:
Look for any big papers or projects. If you need to find a partner go ahead and use this time to look for one. It is vital that you and your partner are on the same page as far as time commitment. Keep lines of communication open. My partner is now my best friend even after grad school. We are ever so grateful to have found each other.
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If you have any big presentations at the end of the semester, knowing this now may prompt you to create an outline of the project. Creative Market has templates that can help you get started. Also familiarizing or even memorizing bits and pieces of what you need to will help.
Look at your school’s syllabus. Look to see which assignments have the most significant percentage of your grade. If it is a big project or a paper, start getting your outline and getting things in line for that project at this time. This will eliminate you rushing or panicking the last minute and then trying to study for an exam. I know how hard or painful it can be to juggle many things especially if you have a child to care for our work to attend to. Trying to chip away one thing at a time before things get busy will be a value for you during this time.
This will be an excellent time to check your supply of printer ink and paper. Actually, test your printer to see if it is still functional and can last another semester. If not, be on the lookout to see what may be on sale. Make sure you have enough printer ink, paper, highlighters, pens, and binders. This will eliminate extra trips to the store which just eats away your time. You need to remember to indulge in anytime saving measures. Any free time you have can be better spent either studying taking care of yourself for spending time with family.
If your a mom or have to care for children, It would be beneficial to have helped set up or lined up. Such as babysitters or daycare. Make a note of how early you can drop off your child. Daycare hours pretty much dictate my study time. I drop my kids off as soon as they open, and pick them out the latest (not proud of this, but it’s my sacrifice while I was in school). This enables me to help manage my time for daily study.
You will especially need proper nutrition while you are in a rigorous program. As tempting as it is to live on soda and junk food, which by the way your body might crave during times of stress. Your immune system will benefit if you have the proper supplementation on top of proper food, snacks, while you were studying all while you are rushing to either get to work or pick up your child.
Schedule family time and time for yourself:
I know how it is to want to spend every waking moment, going through the material and doing your best to get good grades or pass your program. However, resolving to take one day off a week not to think about school or even look at your books will be good for your mental health.
Save time with appointments:
Get appointments done before you start the semester. Schedule dental and wellness visits any other household or family appointments that you think might need to be done before the start of the semester. This will eliminate stress from you taking time away from your studies to for you to go to your appointments.
Know your learning style and study skills:
If you are a visual or audio learner etc. Knowing where you learn best. As a visual learner, I’ve invested in a small and large whiteboard with different colored dry erase markers. Additionally, finding a quiet corner of your house and not be distracted may work for you. Or you may be the type that needs to be somewhere, away from everything to prevent distraction. Know your library hours or look for a coffee shop where you can park yourself have a good set of noise canceling headphones and study. I must confess, I have spent a lot of time and money on coffee and have claimed my own table at a nearby coffee shop :).
In summary, your best tools to have lined up before you start the semester are:
- Big monthly calendar so you can map out exams, due dates, study times and appointments
- Printing, organizing, and labeling
- Meal prep and supplementation
- Supplies (household and school)
Whatever way you decide to prepare, study or organize your time; I hope you find what will work for you and the program that you are in. Good luck!