Get a Student Diary and Stick To It: Tip Five for the New Semester
Students are notorious for being the most disorganised people on the planet. Being in charge of our own lives for the first time means, in turn, being responsible for it. In that, it involves keeping to commitments, both academical and social. It is not uncommon to see students walking in late to lectures, missing out on club meetings or having to run from one obligation to another because they were scheduled too close together. But investing properly in good student diary can help deal with these issues, and make sure you are constantly on top of your timetable and your life.
First of all, it is important to have one place where all your commitments are written down and decide what that is going to be. It is vital that you have one diary and one only. Very often people have a diary on their computer with one set of dates, and one on their phone with another, and so on, leaving their schedule fractured and meaning – depending on which diary they look at – they never know exactly what they are doing. Choose one form for a student diary that you know you can stick to and invest in just that one – have you considered using a bullet journal? Some people enjoy using a traditional physical paper diary, which can be helpful to those who find scrapbooking and journaling relaxing and therapeutic. However, to the more disorganised student, a physical diary can be easily forgotten, especially when moving around a campus, making it harder to keep to and keep up to date. What is a lot easier to remember is a phone or a laptop, so having a virtual diary is preferable.
To that end, whilst many phones have a built-in diary, it may be better to use an online calendar provider – such as Google or Microsoft – as this means your diary can be accessible from any device, meaning you can never forget your student diary wherever you go. Using a digital or online diary can be more helpful for keeping to that diary than a traditional one, for a whole host of reasons.
Unfortunately, a paper diary can never alert you that there is something coming up that you need to do, whereas a virtual one can. Making sure your key dates have an alarm can keep even the most forgetful student on schedule. Equally, having it to hand constantly, as mentioned before, wherever you are – as students have to move around a lot – means you can keep up to date and never be away from it.
Moreover, there are other things you can do to keep a good student diary and not fall behind. Simple things such as checking your diary in the morning when you wake up to see what you are doing that day can make a real difference. As well as this, check what you have to do the following day the night before, so you are mentally prepared for the events of the day when you wake up. Furthermore, make a point of entering dates and reminders of things you have to do as soon as they are agreed upon with tutors or you are notified about them; rather than just bookmarking the email with the date in, put it straight into your diary. Another thing that you can do is share your diary with other people, such as friends and tutors, so that they can see when you are occupied and when you are available without having to contact you, and can work in dates and meetings around that.
Once you have settled on a diary that works for you, take the time before you start term to add in your lecture timetable. Lectures and seminars tend to be fixed at regular intervals for a set number of weeks, and are usually published online before the start of term, so this should be fairly easy to do. Having a structured timetable will help you keep to your commitments as they will then be at regular times during the week. Equally, if you can, try to organise any other tutorials and unstructured contact hours to be at regular times as well, to add to that sense of structure; if something happens at the same time every week or fortnight, it is easier to know it is coming and plan for it.
Next, make sure you have a rolling to-do list that you have to tick off each day, for things that you need to do but don’t have a specific scheduled time for. These may be things such as doing laundry, going food shopping or handing in work. This can be easily done with a virtual diary by using a reminder or tracking personal goals. When you get there and you are signed up to some clubs or teams, make sure you schedule in any meetings or practices so you are not late to them, and so you know how much free time you have. Finally, once you have an idea of your workload, schedule some structured time for individual study where you can get the bulk of your independent work done.
Now you have invested in your student diary, and you know how to stick to it, it will become an invaluable tool to help you stay on schedule and up to date. When you are living by yourself for the first time, keeping on track of all your commitments can be a daunting challenge, so being as organised and as invested in your own agenda as possible can really help you stay on target.
Make sure you check out the rest of the articles in our series on Tips for the perfect start for the next semester: