Realistic Study Schedule

Creating your detailed Study Schedule – And keeping it realistic

I’ve seen a handful of bloggers post a study schedule planner on their blogs or even on Pinterest. A lot of them are great; however I find that some of them lack the realistic portion of it all. Sure we’ve pretty all said “I’ll never get this done” or “I don’t have time” or my personal favourite “Here comes exam time, the days where I have no life whatsoever.”  I’ve used this one once or twice, and by twice I mean about a thousand times. Until I actually got my priorities straight and discovered what managing my time really meant. Let’s face it, if Beyoncé can do all that she does and STILL rule the world, you can manage your personal-school-work balance.

These next steps may not work for you, and that’s totally fine, but they do work for me, and probably will for some of you.

Step 1 – Knowing your exam schedule

MID-TERMS: Check your syllabi. Every single syllabus will have all those dates marked. So take note of it in whatever planner system you use.

FINAL EXAMS: I know for our university, the exam schedule is up on the website in October and February, which is a whole 2 months before the exams even start. So write them down and keep looking about every two weeks to make sure that it hasn’t changed. Again, write these down in the planner system you use.

Step 2 – Create a typical week

This is the part where you’ll write down everything that you normally do in a week. I usually break my days down in 30 minute increments. Obviously add your classes, but also add your work hours and extra-curricular activities (dance, workouts, guitar lessons, etc.), add your normal sleeping hours, homework time, lunch hours, TV shows you usually watch (you’ll see why soon) and other responsibilities.

Step 3 – Know yourself

Probably the most crucial part when it comes to actually building your study schedule which I feel a lot of people forget to put emphasis on is to know yourself. Know when you’re most productive and the least.

For example, I know that I’m at my productivity peak from 10:30 am to 1pm and from 3pm to 6pm. Now, it doesn’t mean that I don’t retain information at other times of the day; it just means that I tend to be way more focused during those times. Knowing this is pretty much key to creating my study schedule because I’ll arrange my study sessions (as best as I can) according to those times.

I also know that I’m least productive from 8:30am to 10am and from 8pm to 10pm. This means, I get ready for my day in the morning and at night, I sit back, relax and get ready for bed.

Once you know all of this information, insert blocks that you will reserve for studying within your current weekly schedule

Step 4 – Setting your priorities

When you get closer to your exam dates, make sure that you set your priorities straight. That invitation for a shopping date with your friend or those three parties happening this weekend, they can be declined. If you really feel like focusing on something else for a little bit, choose an activity that will benefit you in one way or another.

I’d suggest to study according to which exams are coming up first and also allotting yourself more time on the subjects in which you have more difficulty.

Also, if you work part-time and feel like you need more time to concentrate on your studies , ask your boss for some time off.

 

 

There you have it guys! Like I said, this may not work for everyone, but I’m sure it will for some of you. It’s definitely a method in which you need to get yourself in gear and create some self-motivation.

 

 

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Best websites for students

It’s official! Class is in session! I thought for this week’s post I’d let you guys know the websites I usually use during my school year to get things done. I’m sure that you’ve heard of most of them, but if not, click on the links and discover for yourself why I do.

Easy Bib: Hello simplicity! I love this website! Whatever type of bibliography your prof wants, they have it on EasyBib AND they generate it for you! Simply enter as much information as you possibly can, and voilà!

Amazon: Some of you might wonder why the hell I use Amazon for school. Well my answer is pretty simple: textbooks and  school supplies. As a student, you’re entitled to some perks (like 2 day shipping) and I love it!

Pinterest: I. Love. This. Website. Not only does it keep my sanity in check with a bajillion ideas on how to stay organized, but it also allows me to search items that may not come up on the first few pages of google. You’d be surprised what can come up when you enter “Political Science” in the search bar.

Google Scholar: This is website that I use predominately for research. It allows you to skip the unnecessary babble that would be on the normal Google page.

Tomato-Timer: If you’re looking for a way to stay focused for a certain amount of time, I’d definitely recommend the Pomodoro Method. It gives you a timer set at 25 minutes which in turn gives you a 5 minute break afterwards. For me, this method helps me truly focus on one task, and when the timer ends, I move on to something else. I go back to the previous task if need be.

Keep me out: I like this website because it works on any type of device you have. It gives you a warning if you go on different types of social media used on a regular basis and allows you to really concentrate on your task at hand.

Youtube: Perfect for learning a new language, viewing the most recent news for that political science class, or reviewing cases for your law class. Or even just as a break, Youtube is a great place to have especially if you’re a visual person.

Songza: If you didn’t know already, the music app on your phone is also available online. When studying simply go to the concierge key, click activity and select work/studying. You’ll find a great selection of music or sounds to have as a background noise if that’s what you need.

Rate my Professor: Not sure what to expect for your next class? Want to warn people about a certain prof? This is the place to go! Whether you loved you prof, hated them, this is where students gather to release information about classes they have taken. Let’s just hope that the profs you get are the good ones.

Linked In: The professional Facebook. Need I say more? Connections people, connections.

Pocket: Forget the bookmarks on your computer. Download Pocket to be able to access any file you save on any device at any time.

Mint: Want to make sure that you don’t go over your budget? Want to know if you can splurge on that doughnut, or those shoes? This is the website that allows you to have all your bank accounts managed and alert you of any purchase you’ve made, what you’ve saved, if there’s been any unwarranted activities, etc. This site is awesome! It’s also an app, so you have all the info on the go.

 

I do hope that these websites help you through your school year! If you have any recommendations, I would love to hear about them. You can email me at lipsticklabels@gmail.com or leave a comment below.

Study Breaks

Study Breaks
September is fast approaching and for some of you (including myself) that means back to school. I wanted to share with you some of the studying breaks that I do to get my mind off of school work so I can refocus afterwards on the topics at hand.
Food 
This is a break I think that a lot of students turn to when they get fed up with what they’re doing. I find that it’s super important to take a food break, but make sure to take a good food break or you’ll feel lazy and possibly find yourself in a food-coma if you eat the wrong things or just eat too much. I like to prepare my “brain-foods” before I start studying and keep them in a separate area in the fridge or in the pantry so that A) my family members don’t take them and B) I don’t wander aimlessly in front of the fridge and look for something else that may be more appealing. Like that last slice of chocolate cake perhaps.
Napping 
I may be slightly obsessed with this study break method. I love to sleep (is that bad?) and I love to feel refreshed. So this works great for me. It’s really important for me to make sure that I set my alarm though or else I’ll be out for hours if not the night. I usually sleep between 30 minutes to 1 hour depending on the time of day and what I’m studying. If my exam is the next day, I’ll stick to a half hour nap session.
Exercising 
This is probably the best break you can take. Whether you do some stretches, some walking or running, or even a little gym session if you can, it’s a great way to release some stress but also a great way to get your cardio working and get your brain stimulated.
Entertainment
I’m a big fan of this one also! Whenever I feel a bit overwhelmed and absolutely need to take my mind off of things I get lost in a different world by watching YouTube tutorials or videos, catching up on my favourite TV show or reading 1 or 2 chapters from my current read.
Getting Creative
Some people release stress doing some exercises, others do it by creating. Paint, sculpt, write, sing or have a dance party. It’s your break. No one will judge you. Just make sure to keep track of the time so you don’t get too carried away.
Freshening Up
A hot bath or a hot shower always helps me recharge and makes me feel refreshed after a long day.
These are only a few examples of taking a study break. What are yours? I’d love to hear some of your breaks! You can do so by commenting below or emailing lipsticklabels@gmail.com
-D

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Congrats! What now? The post grad life and how to deal.

You did it! You still have a hard time believing that you achieved your goal, you finished your studies. You are now surrounded by people full of congratulations and well wishes, promptly followed by inquiries in regards to your future plans. Surely, now that you’ve been released from your educational handcuffs, you have your whole life mapped out!

I feel as though I’ve just checked off my biggest accomplishment on my “Life list” yet. It’s the goal I’ve been aiming for since I can remember, graduate university. It’s a value passed on by my parents, they insisted on us being educated, doing what we have to do to reach our dreams. I agreed and went ahead through a 3 year advanced college degree in Child & Youth work, only to graduate and attend 3 years of university for an advanced honours bachelor in Social Work. That’s 6 years of post-secondary education, 6 years during which my responsibilities have been focused on reaching my goal.

Now that it’s over, I can’t say that I miss it. The student life is one I chose due to opportunity and value. I did not for a moment enjoy the studying, the projects, the essays, any of it. Although I understand why it’s all necessary, and that everything I’ve learned (hopefully) will contribute into making me successful in my career, I hated every minute of it, always looking forward to it being all over.

Any plans I had past this goal seemed silly,  far-fetched and unnecessary to reflect on, life started after school. I’ve had this mentality since I can remember, promising myself happiness and adventure. I’ve looked on as fellow schoolmates went on trips, traveled the world, started families and bought houses, while I remained, what felt like the same.

So I stand now, diploma in hand, a job starting Monday, and I’m completely overwhelmed by the amount of choices, opportunities, and big decisions in front of me. Financial, social, relationship, family. All of a sudden I have time for things, I can afford them and there are so many that I’m faced with constant choice, which I’d been without, using the student label as an excuse to not have to decide. 1d654561b4f60c639d514ca03fdfc72b

I suppose it is time for me to put on my big girl pants and start living this post grad life, acknowledging that the decisions I make define who I want to be and  who I will become. As for the inquiries in regards to my plans, I say that I’m just going to go with it. Cars, houses, husbands, children, trips, jobs. I’ll welcome them as they arrive, and make the best of what I have.

I’m currently the happiest I’ve been in a long time, surrounded by family, true friends, love and stability. I’ve reached major goals and am currently basking in the aftermath of it all. Soaking it in for a rainy day, because we all know things get tough eventually.

Enjoy it post grads, you deserve it.

-C

Binder Organization

University is quite different than college, or so I’ve learned this past year, and the experience will be different for everyone. In college, I had a binder for each and every subject and I was okay with that. I took notes by hand, received hand outs by profs and made sure everything had it’s particular place.

My method

This time around, I still make sure that everything has it’s particular place, however, I have much more use for my computer and even though it’s true that very little hand outs are given to me during the semester, I still have a lot of pages to print out like typed notes, PowerPoint Presentations and reading material. This year, I decided that I was going to use one (1) binder to file all my notes and print outs and transfer the notes in a magazine holder when the semester is done to re-use the binder again.

 binder organization

 

About the binder

The binder is a 2 inch binder with clear covers on both sides which allows me to insert my school schedule. Inside I added five (5) dividers, 1 for each class. Instead of naming the tabs with the name of the classes, I simply tagged them as Class A, B, C, D and E so that the dividers can be re-used without having to waste a bunch of tags. (Side note: I assign my labels in order of my classes. For example, if Chemistry is my first class on Monday, then the label will be A)  I chose the “pocket dividers” to be able to place handouts, evaluations, projects and syllabi in them.

Each section will hold my class notes, some PowerPoint presentations, notes taken from the assigned book and my project or assignments.

All in all this keeps me quite organized and I know that everything is located in one spot.

Also, instead of bringing a 2 inch binder to school with me everyday, I have a 5 pocket folder that I picked up at the dollar store that I labeled the same way as my binder. This allows me to simply bring what I need with me to school, should I have some studying to do, or if I have an assignment to give in, without carry the heavy load of the binder.

Fall semester pep-talk

Hello to all my fellow students! How ya feelin? Tired? Overwhelmed? Unmotivated? Me too!

The Fall semester is officially in full swing; essays, mid-terms, quizzes, group projects and more! By now you should be a little more settled in, got the whole routine figured out, classes mapped and teachers…well they’re pretty much just always confusing. Don’t know what they want? It’s okay, neither do they.

It can all feel fast and scary, what with due dates approaching and stress levels sky rocketing. Take a deep breath, let’s go through this together.

1. Prioritize. I promise you, this one can save your sanity. It’s all about making decisions that benefit you, and sometimes, that two hours of trash TV really is more important than re-reading your class  notes. Check your schedule on a regular basis and make sure that your needs are met. Do I have time for a much-needed nap? How about some time with loved ones? Will you be getting enough sleep tomorrow if you procrastinate that study session? Be honest with yourself and make sure you understand your learning needs and what you specifically need to do to succeed.

2. Time management. Dom has a great post on how she organizes her time. Some people, like her, like to micro-manage their time and have every minute planned out. Other people, like myself, need a little more breathing room. I tend to plan ahead according to set deadlines and give myself some room to move my schedule around. Neither one is better than the other, it all depends on what works for you, as long as you reach your deadlines and have quality work. You can also prioritize by assignment, leaving the more important or difficult papers for the end, or vise-versa! This can relieve a lot of stress for students when it comes to choosing where to start.

3. Use the resources available to you. Most college and university campus’ offer an enormous amount of student support services, from mental health to essay writing. You don’t have to feel alone and helpless, there are people on campus whom are entirely there for you. Most institutions also offer great low-cost or free activities including group sports, fitness and interest based gatherings. I can’t say this enough, use these resources, they exist to benefit you and your college experience.

Hang on, you can do this!

Tic Toc – time management

Ah time. It’s a beautiful thing, isn’t it? We all have the same amount of hours in a day, but what you decide to do with it is really up to you. I mean, the time will pass whether you do great things or simply sit in front of the TV all day. [Disclaimer: OH MY GOD, I knew University was going to be intense, but seriously, I’m running out of hours in a day here! ] There are many ways to make sure that you stop procrastinating and make the most of your day. All it really takes is about an hour on a Sunday night to get it organized.

Personally, I use two methods: A planner and a weekly time sheet.

My Planner: Oh my goodness do I love this thing. I’ve been searching forever to find the perfect one and to make sure it would meet my requirements. I needed a monthly and weekly planner that was big enough to write down my homework, brain splurge, meetings, assignments and important dates. I got my planner at Indigo and I absolutely love it. It’ll last me until December 2015 which is great. To me, the only downfall is that all the months are at the front, followed by the weeks. I would have preferred that it all follows suit, but it’s the best one I found compared to what else there was out there.

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Bi-weekly view

 I absolutely love the fact that it’s bi-weekly! This way, I can see what’s to come without having to flip the page every time!

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Monthly view

    Weekly Time Sheet: This is the main part of my one hour on Sunday nights. I’ve put into an spreadsheet the days of the week with the times from 7am to 9pm. Then I blocked off all the fixed times such as my classes and my blog time. Once that was done, I printed two copies, one that I keep to photocopy every Sunday to fill and one to fill immediately. By Sunday, I already know what my work schedule is going to be like so I can simply color those boxes in.  I also block off my studying time, my fitness time, appointments and my already made social events. Everything is already inserted in my planner, but the hour by hour time sheet helps me have a better look at what I have to do and when my downtime is.

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Typical Week

So this is really a typical week for me. Blue: my class time (I’ve been really lucky this semester!) Yellow: my work schedule (I also work at times on Fridays 12pm-9pm and on Thursdays from 5pm-9pm) Purple: my blog time (yay!) Orange: my study time, Green: my social time *

*Social time: I use this time to Video Chat M (we do talk every day though), to sit and watch my recorded shows, to hang out with friends and to just have some time for myself. It’s not a lot, but it’s really the only time I can afford away from my studies.

Now some of you might ask, Dom, why didn’t you just get a planner with the weekly hours instead of having both. Well, dear friends, here’s why. My writing is massive. And I felt like I didn’t have enough room to write all my homework in the little boxes. So I write all my homework and my appointment dates in my planner, and in my weekly schedule, I block off my time (appointments, class, studying time, social, blog, etc.) to see what’s available and what isn’t.   I hope this helps! Please let us know what your time management tip is. We’d love to hear from you!