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How to Organize Your Studies and Get the Most Accomplished

By Karin S. Ryan, M.A. and Kelly Machan, M.A.

Be proactive in your planning!

  • Read the syllabi for all of your classes after the first class and highlight the important due dates, see how much reading is required for the class, and note big projects/papers/presentations.
  • Write down ALL of your tasks, assignments, and activities in one place. A planner or scheduler is made for this, and you can look ahead to see what is coming up.
  • Know the details about the class and assignments. Do not be afraid to ask for clarification or specifics (pages, timeframe, number of references, working with others, using notes).

Use your planner, calendar, or scheduler.

  • Write both your social and academic activities in one place, that way you can see when there is a scheduling conflict, when you will be busy, and when you have time to relax.
  • Break down big papers, projects, presentations or finals. Set deadlines for yourself and write them in your planner. For example, you may want to read chapters 1-7 by Oct. 1st and chapters 7-17 by Nov. 15th, and then start studying for the final on Dec. 8th. For a paper, you can set dates to complete the outline, references, rough draft, final draft, and dates to edit.

Figure out what is most important and most urgent.

  • Determine what is most urgent, what is due tomorrow verses next week.
  • Determine what is most important, which is worth the most points or biggest percentage of your grade.
  • Create a prioritized list based on what is most urgent and important. This will help you recognize when you are procrastinating or doing things less important to avoid the more difficult tasks.

Study in the right environment.

  • Study in a room/location with good lighting, minimal noise distractions, a comfortable temperature, and a positive atmosphere.
  • If you study with others, choose people who are motivated and focused on studying. If studying with friends is distracting, make plans to meet up with them after you get your work done.
  • Schedule your study time when you are at your best: morning, afternoon, night.

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How to Organize Your Studies and Get the Most Accomplished (pdf)