Visual Notes: Crash Course

How much more likely are you to read an infograph than an actual article or research study? Probably a lot more likely, right? In fact, 90% of info transmitted to our brains is visual! “Yeah, so what?” you might be asking. So… have you ever considered using visual notes for studying instead of just writing out a bunch of words? You know, a little like creating your own infograph? I started doing this for two reasons:

  • #1: When I was in high school, we had a teacher who would allow us to create a 1-page study guide that we could use on our tests. I know, I know… sounds so easy, right? And you are right, it was easy. But here is what our teacher knew: He knew that we would spend SO MUCH time analyzing and evaluating what information to put on those study guides, that we would secretly be learning more information the whole time we were creating them! Pretty sneaky, huh?
  • #2: I am a visual learner. And you probably are, too. In fact, 65 percent of us are visual learners! This is why we may get overwhelmed when we open a document/e-mail/textbook that just has dense paragraphs and paragraphs full of words. And I don’t mean for that to sound as bad as it may sound (like we’re too lazy to read a book or something). It’s just that images, like charts or graphs or illustrations or photographs, can make it easier on our eyes and our brains because they improve a document’s readability.
In fact, when I was in my Educational Psychology class a few years ago (favorite one ever, btw), our professor told us that one of the jobs within that field is to create those little images and tables in textbooks! I just thought it was pretty cool… I never even thought about why they were in there! Now I notice them all the time (AND I actually pay attention to them)!
Now, whenever I’m feeling particularly overwhelmed by a topic, I try to put all of the most important info onto ONE PAGE using a mixture of bullet points, charts, drawings, keywords, whatever I think will help! I created a study sheet of visual notes for my most recent certification exam (the last one ever. YAY!). Luckily, I took photos of this one because, as you know, studying is a little like working out: If you don’t photograph it, it doesn’t count.
As you can clearly see, stick people are my specialty. Just look at Jean Piaget’s glasses.
Remarkable talent.
So, how about this: How about if, the next time you’re studying for an exam, you comb through your notes and your textbook and create an infograph-style study sheet. One sheet (or poster) with pictures to quickly trigger certain concepts in your brian with a few keywords or major facts to remember! Then hang it up somewhere where you will see it frequently throughout the day (like above your desk or on your mirror to look at while you’re getting ready).
Maybe you’ll be able to get a little more into studying using a method like this than you would if you had to sit down, pull out your notes, and flip back through pages and pages of your own handwriting! I have included some examples of “visual notes” to inspire y’all! Also, there are links to several different sites that mention them (and other things) as well!
Of course I love this one by Liz Cazaly because it’s about education, too! Win-Win!
This one is by Austin Kleon (of achieves what I was TRYING to do in the photo above.
And this one by Guilia Forsythe makes it easy to scan through the categories of the topic!
Here are some links to sites that are
not drawn by Kindergarten teachers
actually informative on this topic
talented at drawing visual notes
Remember, it doesn’t have to be good to be effective!
Thank goodness! 🙂
Do you take visual notes or have you ever tried? How do you typically create study guides? Have you tried that trick of putting them on your mirror (or somewhere in your home)… if so, did it help or not help? 

Back to School Shopping List


This post brought to you by Brita. All opinions are 100% mine.


You know that commercial that was on a few years ago with the dad skipping through the school supply aisle, while his reluctant kids trail behind and “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” plays in the background? Every year, when it’s time for back to school shopping, I totally feel like that guy!


And everyone knows that the making of a school supply list is almost as fun as the shopping for the school supplies themselves! SOOO… Here is a list of my essential back to school supplies (alphabetically, of course)!



Fall Semester Essentials:






I know. I know. I’m like the only person in America who didn’t have a water filter yet. But let me start by saying that I live in Memphis… which is known for having pretty good water… so, I didn’t think it would make a big difference. However, in an effort to keep myself hydrated and feel more energized this summer, I bought my first Brita® filter water bottle (available at Target)! Oh my gosh, y’all… it makes a huge difference!


The filter reduces impurities, so the difference between drinking water through the filter and the faucet is incredible. Plus, I’m saving a TON of money by not having to buy bottles of water all the time while I’m running around (and reducing waste)! Not only that, but I can put anything in it, which is awesome. My husband has literally been filling this bottle up with water then pouring it into his glass before dinner… so I guess that’s a subtle hint that we should get the pitcher, too!






Last fall, I wrote a post on how I color-code my planner. And I was all about these Cosmo pens from the Write Dudes. Well, I still love those but one of my Kindergarteners gave me the Paper Mate Flair pens as an end-of-the-year gift last year and I have become 100% obsessed! It’s like writing with a super thin, super pretty, little Sharpie. I am just all about these pens right now! If you want to check them out, I’ve seen them at Target, Office Max, and Office Depot!






Over the summer, I mentioned that I left my old flash drive in the USB port at FedEx Office. Saddest day of my life. Luckily, I keep backups of important things in my computer and online, so I didn’t really lose anything too critical. Regardless, I’ll need one for this semester and I typically find the best prices on Amazon!






Organizing my new class folders is probably one of my favorite parts of the new semester! I just use one 2-pocket folder for each class (here is how I organize them). At the end of the semester, I save the ones that are still in pretty good shape and reuse them for the next semester to save money!






I have literally been using the same brand of highlighters (Foray) forever (probably longer, actually). My most-used colors are yellow and pink. When I begin an assignment, I highlight it in yellow on my Semester Spreadsheet and in my planner. When I complete it, I highlight it in pink. This way, I can see what I’m finished with, what I’m currently working on, and which projects I need to start!






I used to just use index cards for making an assignment timeline but I have gotten SO into making flashcards lately! I don’t know why I never really made them before. I started over the summer when I made some to learn the menu items of the restaurant where I was working. After that, I used them to help me study for my certification exam. And right now, I’m actually taking a break from making some for my next certification exam. Less than $1 at Target? I don’t know why I didn’t do this sooner!






Year after year, these are one of my main staples of the semester. I use them for taking notes. This makes it a lot easier for me to not freak out when my professors give us things out of order, get sidetracked, or leave things out only to add them at the end of the lecture.


Plus, it keeps me focused instead of worrying about whether I should make this heading pink or that bullet point purple (which is exactly what I will do if I try to color-code notes as I write them)! I can do all of that when I REWRITE my notes later. I also use these when I’m on-the-go and writing tentative plans in my planner, because they can just be erased and replaced with more permanent plans later.






Speaking of “staples”, it seriously never fails that every time something is due in class, about 34 people start to ask “Hey… does anyone have a stapler?”. How people show up to class ready to turn in an assignment that isn’t stapled, I have no idea. But it is always awesome to be that person that saves the day! Also, by having your own stapler, you won’t have to worry about ever being that person (or using the germ-y one in the library). Plus, Target has PINK staples (of course they do)! And why use silver when you could use pink?!






Notebooks are another thing I’ve received some questions about lately. Some of y’all have asked whether I get a different notebook for each class, or use one multi-subject notebook for every class. I’ve tried both but, for the sake of simplicity, I just get one notebook and use it for every class.


When I first started college, I kept looseleaf paper in a binder, which was just too bulky. Then, I began to buy a separate notebook for each class. However, some notebooks would get completely used up 8 weeks into the semester while others barely had 8 pages of notes by December! Now I just keep everything in one notebook and fold down pages, write in the corner of the page, or use Post-It tabs to find what I’m looking for.






And here it is: The Holy Grail of school supplies. Erin Condren? Kate Spade? Lily Pulitzer? MayBooks? You know, you can’t just rush into a big decision like this. It really takes a lot of research, trial and error, and maybe some modifications to make a planner totally work for YOU.


Here is a list of some of my favorites and here is what I use. Plus, your school bookstore will have some and so does Target (seriously, what don’t they have?). Make sure you check out all of your available sources before committing to one planner for the next year of your life! I mean, choosing a good planner is practically as important as choosing a good husband, right?






I have to admit that I am a little Post-It crazy. I have the 2×2 ones, which I usually write my to-do list on each morning and stick to the back of my phone before I leave for the day. I have the smaller Post-It tabs which I use to mark pages in my notebook/textbooks while I’m reading/researching/studying for school. And I also use these to mark important dates in my planner.


We could all always use more Post-Its!






I’ve had a few people ask about the weekly task pads that I sometimes get from Target’s Dollar Spot. The tricky thing about that little section of the store is that you just never know what you’re going to find! I might walk through there 10 times and not see any to-do lists at all. Then, I’ll go in there and there are, like, 20 different choices!


If you’re looking for something like that (but a little free-er), then check out this printable that I made last semester! Same concept, plus there is a place to write down what you actually accomplished each day, too! It also prints out 16 sheets (each with a different quote)… 1 for each week of the semester!




Well, obviously, textbooks are a pretty essential part of back to school shopping! I always, ALWAYS recommend checking out Slugbooks to make sure that you’re getting the best price! If you’re thinking about getting an e-book, you should really check out McGraw-Hill’s SmartBooks, too! It’s an interactive e-book that quizzes you throughout the chapter and assesses your learning of the chapter!



Ahhhh… listmaking AND organizing AND an excuse to buy new school supplies?!

It really is the most wonderful time of the year! Until all of the post-Christmas organization sales, that is. 🙂




What are some of the essentials from your shopping list this semester?! 

Where are your favorite places to get your school supplies? 

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5 Time Management Tips for College

One of the most frequent requests that I get is to do a post on how I manage(d) my time in college. Since we’re about a month away from the beginning of a new semester (and the very first semester for some of y’all!), I thought this would be a perfect time to address it!
College is kind of a difficult balancing act because, whether you’re in a sorority, working part-time, playing sports, or interning, it always feels like you’re being pulled in a million different directions! That’s why it’s so important to learn how to tell people “no” in order to successfully do it all (which I still struggle with on a daily basis)!

Here are my 5 biggest tips on managing your time in college!

Schedule in “Study Time”

It is very important to give yourself time to complete your schoolwork. Whether you’ll need to spend a few hours researching in the library, quizzing yourself over your textbook, or writing all of your super long papers, you WILL NEED this time for something. Every single week.
So, don’t pick up shifts at work during these times. Don’t plan lunch dates with your friends during these times. And schedule those times realistically, don’t make it a Friday or Saturday night because you know that there one billion things to tempt you away from your schoolwork!

Schedule in “Friend Time”

Equally as important as scheduling in time for your schoolwork, make sure to schedule in time for your friends! Of course, every college student has to make sacrifices, but you definitely don’t want to go MIA just because school started!
Because I worked in a restaurant in undergrad, my “friend time” usually ended up being after work on Friday and Saturday nights. We would already be together and have a ton of energy from running around like crazy all night. So, I just knew that I had the time built in to hang out with all of my favorite people!

Schedule a Designated “Day Off”

Tell your boss you have a class if you need to. What I found out during my first semester of college was that if I let my boss know every time that I was out of class, he would schedule me to work every time that I was out of class. You need to account for time to study at home, too!
This day off is basically like your safety net. It’s a day to do laundry, to finish up assignments, to clean out your car, and to just recover from your crazy busy week (or prepare for the next crazy busy week). Since you schedule your own classes, you are responsible for giving yourself time to unwind!

Work “High Priority” to “Low Priority”

So, when you’re working during your “Study Time” be sure that you start with your “high priority” (or most quickly approaching due dates) first. Just because you never know what could come up before your next “study time”. Sure, I said not to schedule anything during study times, but what if your long-lost best friend comes in town, or it’s your dad’s birthday, or you need to visit someone in the hospital, or meet with your advisor?
We can plan and plan, but life still finds a way to things sneak surprises into our plans all the time. Make sure you always take care of your most time-sensitive material first.

Remember to Have Fun!

College is, of course, an important time for working hard and making good grades. BUT at the same time, that isn’t what you want to spend all of your time doing, or you’ll miss out on all of the fun memories that it has to offer! You want to look back on this time and remember how much fun you had, not how you spend every night locked in your dorm with a textbook. You just have to find your own line between discipline and flexibility!
“I’ve learned one thing, and that’s to quit worrying about stupid things. You have four years to be irresponsible here, relax. Work is for people with jobs. You’ll never remember class time, but you’ll remember the time you wasted hanging out with your friends. So stay out late. Go out with your friends on a Tuesday when you have a paper due on Wednesday. Spend money you don’t have. Drink ’til sunrise. The work never ends, but college does…”
― Tom Petty
Just remember that time management is all about excellent planning! 🙂 
How do you balance your class time, social time, and study time? 
What tips do you have for time management in college?