When it comes to exam season, it always feels like there are too many things I have to do to prepare myself. It can be disorienting deciding where to start and how to keep track of everything, while also making sure that I am not behind on my revision schedule. I have tried several times to keep a physical planner, where I would write my to-do lists and make notes of important things. But since I’d always opt for leaving it at home because I didn’t want my bag to be too heavy, it never really became of any good use in the long term. I really struggled with staying organized with exam revision last year because it was a very stressful time for me.
A friend of mine told me about Notion, which is a free software that allows you to keep track of things you want to do, any goals you are working towards, or information you want to keep in one place. At first it can be a bit intimidating, but there are a lot of videos and articles with tips and tricks on how to make Notion useful to your needs. There are also countless templates for budget tracking, agendas, recipe books, etc. that others have created, and you can duplicate them to your Notion and start using them without going through the trouble of figuring out how to create a template from scratch. Since I started using Notion, I’ve noticed that it has become much easier to stay on track of my to-do list every week, and all of the cool features of the software have even inspired me to try out new things that have helped me in both the personal and professional aspects of life. Notion is very useful when it comes to exam prep because you can hide certain information while you write your own answer to the question, for example.
Another thing I have found extremely useful as a university student is Google Calendar. Whether it’s a lecture, a group project meeting or even just plans with friends, I like to put everything on Google Calendar, so that I don’t double-book myself and I can always have a clear idea of how much free time I have and how I want to use it. It has also helped me be on time for meetings that I had forgotten about and has also saved me in situations where I was working on an assignment and lost track of time until the reminder notification appeared and prompted me to run to office hours or join a zoom meeting.
The last thing that I do to stay organized is using post-it notes to have a visual reminder of deadlines without having to open my calendar or Notion. I usually either stick them to my laptop near the trackpad or somewhere around my workspace in my room where I can easily see them. This helps me prioritize my tasks better and remain focused on what I need to do.
These are the main things that have helped me stay organized both during exam season and just in general. There are many different versions of the same tools, so it is a matter of trial and error to find what really works best for you and your work style. The tools that help you stay organized can also motivate you to complete your tasks and stick to new habits. Sometimes when I have a slow day and not that much motivation to tackle my to-do list, the feeling of checking something off the list is enough to push me to start an assignment or a reading.
The tools that help you stay organized can also motivate you to complete your tasks and stick to new habits.
My advice is to take some time before starting revising for the exams and come up with a system to stay organized and accountable to yourself about your progress.