How to Make a Study Plan for the Quarter

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*My fall quarter starts on September 24th. Professors started posting textbook information, test information, syllabus, etc. on the course websites a couple days, so I thought it would be a good idea to prepare for each class before it starts *

Once you have your textbooks, a little bit of information on the website, and the syllabus, start preparing your study plan for the quarter.

1. Read the course syllabus. Professors know exactly what they will be teaching, how big the workload will be, exam schedules, reading material, etc. Once you read the syllabus, you are already mentally prepared for the class, and it won’t seem as overwhelming on the first day. 

** Important information to take away from the syllabus: 

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Click here to save $10 on your first Erin Condren purchase!

PENS

The most important purchase you can make, after your planner of course!

I’ve decided to round up some of the most popular colorful pens I’ve seen Erin Condren fans use to brighten up their weeks. I will link each pen to a place you can purchase it but don’t forget to look around online to find the best deal! Some of these, which I will point out, can be purchased in store, keep in mind I am US based. Lastly, depending on what I link each pen to, there are options to buy smaller or larger packs of one style, again, do your research before buying! 

  1. Paper Mate FlairsThese are the ones I use! So many fun colors with a medium felt tip. Can be found in stores (Walmart, Staples, etc)
  2. Bic Cristal Bold Fashion Pens: A ballpoint pen thicker than other pens discussed below but the color range and price cannot be beat. Thinner pens make me feel like the pen is scratching the paper so these are perfect if you feel the same way! Can be found in stores, I personally saw them at Walmart. (hmmm, can’t seem to find a place online to buy but I promise I’ve seen them in store.)
  3. Erin Condren Colorful Markers: Medium felt tip pens
  4. Japanese Frixion Markers/Pens: Here is a link to the markers, and one to the pens. I want to try out these babies so bad! There are frixions made in the US but they do not come in the same range of colors. Are you ready for the best part? THEY ARE ERASABLE. 
  5. Stabilo Point 88 Fineliner Marker Pen: Just the color range of these are amazing! Definitely check these out if you’re looking for a really fine line. 
  6. Staedtler Triplus Fineliner Pen: Even finer than the Stabilo these are extremely popular among EC fans I’ve met, and the case they come in are A+ for storing them at your desk or in your bag. I believe these are available in store (I have only seen them at Staples but they may be available elsewhere)
  7. Sharpie Pen, Fine Point: Everything you love about the color and quality of Sharpies but a guarantee they wont bleed through the page. Can be found in stores (Walmart, Staples) 

I love my Erin Condren Life Planner, do you? If you haven’t purchased yours yet be sure to click here to save $10 off your first purchase! (if you have already created an account you will not be able to use this $10 credit, but if you use the link provided to make an account using a different email you will be able to use it!)

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THE IMPORTANCE OF SCHEDULES

I know I’ve talked briefly about this before, but I thought it deserved a longer post.

WHY?

[THE BENEFITS]

  • gives your time structure
  • no time to lay around & worry, sulk or obsess!
  • helps to limit problem sleeping
  • helps you balance your life activities
  • you won’t be double booked!
  • makes sure you have self-care time
  • helps you figure out priorities
  • gets your studying & classes on track!

Basically, there are dozens of reasons why schedules can be good. It all depends on your issues, or why you want to start.

For me, I was napping all the time and sleeping my life away. Now I only take about one short nap a week, when I really need it. 

If you’re having problems in school, schedules can help you make and stick to a study schedule. If you’re always late and double booking yourself, schedules can help. If you feel you have too much going on in life and you can’t figure out your priorities, schedules can help. If you feel like you have nothing going on and life is pointless, schedules can help!

HOW?

[THE PROCESS]

  1. Set up your medium - Use a piece of paper, grid paper, a preprinted calendar or planner, an Excel spreadsheet, Google Docs—anything. Whatever works for you. Block out days of the week, morning/afternoon/night, hours—be as exact or as approximate as you want. Again, just make sure it makes sense to you.
  2. Block out your have-tos and priorities - Things like sleep, family dinners, work schedules, school, classes, concerts, etc. These are the non-negotiables. 
  3. Determine your categories - What areas do you need to balance? School, home and job? Stressful, peaceful, social? I have two sets: High, medium and low priority, and achievement, connection to others, enjoyment, and self-care. These can be anything, as long as they make sense to you.
  4. Find balance -  Once you’ve figured out what in your life you need to balance, it’s time to balance it. Mark your have-tos and priorities in the category(s) they fit into. I like to do this by color-coding, because I’m a visual person. You can easily use little letters, shapes/symbols, different fonts. (Again, whatever makes sense!) Now look at your schedule. Do you have an overabundance of one thing? Is your schedule overwhelmed by the “stressful” category? Do you have nothing but family and school obligations, and no social engagements?
  5. Fill it in! - Fill in your schedule based on your answers from #4. If you find you have lots of stressful activities, schedule in lots of relaxation between them or in the evenings. Balance out school and family with social engagements and fun. 

Ta-da! You now have the bare bones of a schedule! Play with it until it meets your needs, and you will never regret it!

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BUT…

[TROUBLESHOOTING]

What medium is right for me?

Look at your life. Are you on the go? Do something that you can a) carry with you or b) access from your mobile phone. If you’re tech-savvy, find an app or a program that syncs to all your devices. If you prefer the feel of paper, use grid paper or a planner.

Experiment til something feels right, works and is convenient!

In my opinion, the best of both worlds is to create the schedule in Excel and then print it out. It gives you a remarkable amount of control—my current schedule is the 3rd picture.

The template I use is here, if you want to give it a test run. (I do alter it a bit)

My schedule is full after step 2.

Whoops! Looks like you’ve got too much goin’ on there. Check out this page for some tips.

I can’t figure out categories.

What do you need to balance? Do you find yourself always forgetting homework for one class and studying all night for another? Maybe classes are one set of categories.

You should have between two and six categories, and perhaps multiple sets. But too many categories will confuse you and derail your schedule!

Here are some sample categories:

  • Achievement/connection to others/enjoyment/self-care
  • Family/school/social/personal
  • High priority/medium priority/low priority
  • High stress/low stress/relaxation
  • Short-term goal work/long-term goal work/enjoyment

How do I achieve balance?

Recognize the opposing “pulls” of your categories, and use them to balance each other out. For example, relaxation “opposes” high stress.

If you color-code your schedule, the colors should reflect a balance. You shouldn’t have all high-stress or all relaxation. It’s more of a science than an art. Just go with your gut and play around a bit. You’ll get the hang of it.

What do I fill in?

Anything!

I tend to fill in “small” things. That is, I’ll fill in television time, crochet time, painting time, and grocery shopping trips. Things I want to do or need to get done eventually.

If you find your schedule has a deficit of things to do, check out my 365 Things post. Do something fun off it. Or try a new hobby. Or call up a friend!

I hate schedules, I prefer spontaneity.

Here’s the thing: you can have a schedule and still be spontaneous. I know, I know, that’s just crazy!

The thing is, schedules help you with priorities and time life management. A schedule can help you make sure that you don’t spend all your time being spontaneous and miss a huge book report, or that you don’t hop on a bus to Chicago the same weekend as your family reunion. It can make sure you’re heading towards your long-term goals and taking care of yourself while still having time to go crazy and unplanned.

What do you do if you want to have a “spontaneous” schedule?

  • When you go to “fill it in”, don’t get specific. Instead of saying “see a movie with Brittany”, you can say “hang out with friends”.
  • Leave your categories as your activities. That is, you know you’ll be doing something enjoyment-related—you just don’t know what yet!
  • You still need to define some things. But you were never going to be spontaneous about studying for that test, were you?

That’s all for now, folks. Contact me about other schedule questions or comments.

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Love these two! They are very cute, spacious and help me keep my assignments organized. I keep them on my pin board. You can download them and print them for free. Hope you guys enjoy these.

Note: I edited the title of the hourly schedule in photoshop to fit me but her font is waaaay cuter! 

Calendar: Download Here 

Hourly Schedule: Download Here

Tried everything to organize your priorities better, and still end up scattered? Try these outside-the-box ideas for sorting your day.

The hardest part is getting started.

When there’s a long list that needs tackling every day, the hardest part is tackling what needs to be done first. You may feel intimidated to start your next big project or pull your colleague aside for an awkward, but much-needed confrontation.

And prioritizing isn’t getting any easier. In his book Present Shock, Douglas Rushkoff blames this modern-day condition on our “continuous, always-on ‘now’“ world which has made us lose our sense of direction.

Successful people know that planning, organizing, and protecting your time is no easy feat, but if you don’t have your priorities straight, who will? Below are four unconventional methods that keep the brightest minds focus on exactly what they need to:

Read More>

Fall 2014 Schedule

I shared my schedule from last semester and people really liked it. You can see that post here. In addition to just the picture of the schedule I also explain my “schedule rules” and have a template available, as well.

I have 18 credits this semester. 3 sciences (2 with labs). 1 math. And 1 core. Apparently I’m not a tutor at the moment, though, which sucks. This year academic support decided to try something new and hire a few tutors at a time as the demand increases. That makes sense, but I would’ve liked to know that before the semester started so I could have gotten a second job. The two chemistry tutors right now are seniors, so of course they got first pick. But even they only have 2 hours a week. So the tutoring hours on there are what I plan to have. Apparently the notetaking I’m doing as well will be paid. I was told I would have “compensation” so I hope that’s what that means.

Aside from the classes, this schedule is my plan, yes. But it doesn’t always happen. Shit happens, you know. So I like to think of it as a “goal” schedule. Ideally this is what I’ll be doing with my time. There’s always a grace period in the beginning of the semester that I give myself to get used to the schedule, so it’s still coming along. But I’m confident it will happen.

Thursday and Friday are pretty nice, though. Two classes on Thursday, only one class on Friday (science seminar is optional, not a class, but I plan to go to it every week). Most people see that as a time to sleep in or chill. I see it as a time to study more. You know, get it done now so I have less to do over the weekend.

Good stuff.

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