How to Make a Daily Prioritized Study List

It’s almost time to start preparing for the fall semester! Who’s excited?!

Today, I am going to try to explain something that is super helpful to me

I’m not sure how effective it will be to translate this into a blog post but I sure am going to try!

Let me know if y’all still find it difficult and I may end up making it into my first video ever! (eek)


I recently received a request from one of my most charming readers asking how I utilize the Semester Spreadsheet. Which I have decided is an absolutely brilliant question. Immediately, I realized that I left out the step between How to Create a Semester Assignment Spreadsheet and Organized Study Time.

And that step is this: How do you decide what to study and when?

Here is what works for me:

FIRST: 

Create your Semester Assignment Spreadsheet. This is a single piece of paper that contains all of your assignments for all of your classes in chronological order. Kind of like a checklist for the entire semester. It keeps you on track with your next due date. Your next assignment.

And it does it all without forcing you to check multiple syllabi on a daily basis. Once you have created this oh-so-helpful step, you will be ready for step 2! (or you could skip this altogether… toootally up to you).


SECOND: 

This is something that you’re (hopefully) already doing! Go through your planner and write down all of your due dates for all of your classes (I told you it was something you were already doing)! The only thing that’s special about this is to use the same color for all of your due dates (I use pink because it grabs my attention the most easily). I write my due dates into my monthly view in pink, then I move on to the daily view of my planner…

THIRD:

So, I’m just going to use this Content Exam as an example. I would go to the date that the Content Exam is due and write it in pink. Then I would go to the 1-2 days before it’s due and write it in purple. Then I would go to 3, 4, and 5 and write it in blue.

Then I would go to 6, 7, 8, and 9 days before and write it in green. Once I see an assignment written in green, I usually know it’s time to start on it (think “green light”). The 10, 11, 12, 13, and 14 days before something is due, I write it in orange. When I see something written in orange, it just reminds me that it’s in my queueon deck, or upcoming.


FOURTH:

Use different colors to prioritize upcoming assignments. This is the color-coding system that I use. If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you may recognize these colors because I also use them to organize my personal planner.
That’s the main reason that I usually like to keep a separate calendar/planner somewhere for my schoolwork. Those little dated notepads from Target’s Dollar Spot are pretty ideal. Because, even though the big, important dates are in my personal planner, I don’t want to clutter it up with mundane things like “read chapter 3”. 

Is that too obsessive-ish sounding? 

Let me draw you a little picture (literally)!

Let’s just say that the picture below depicts the “life cycle” of an assignment on my calendar. It first shows up in my planner two weeks in advance, as a low-priority task (orange). If I get started on it then, I have a head start. If not, it’s still in my subconscious… beginning to create that nagging “I need to do this” feeling. By the time it “turns green”, work on the project definitely needs to be underway.
 Most (not all) assignments can be thoroughly completed in a week or two!
 Any Normal Person: “You seriously write each assignment into your school planner 15 times?”
Me: “Yes. Yes, I do.”
Any Normal person:But why on earth would you waste your time doing that?!
 
Me: “Because I know it’s the beginning of the semester and there isn’t much else to do. I also know that there will soon be a time (mid-semester) when there will be everything to do. All at once. And on those days, it is so incredibly helpful to sit down, open my school planner, and know exactly where I should start!”

THE FINISHED PRODUCT: 

Eventually, every day of your schoolwork planner should look something like the picture above. You will have every day’s study time planned out and will be ready to get started. You will open the planner and know exactly which assignments take top priority, what takes second priority, and what is in your “queue” for the next couple of weeks. There are no surprises this way. And you’ll totally forgive me for making you write it all out at the beginning of the semester (hopefully)!
Now, don’t think that I haven’t noticed that this is completely obsessive and insane. Oh, I have noticed. But it is so incredibly helpful to me that I couldn’t imagine starting a new semester without it! 🙂

How do you keep up with what you need to study and when? 

Do you keep a separate planner for school assignments or just put everything into one? 

Follow Organized Charm on Pinterest for all. of. the. of study tips! 

Class Folder Organization

I used to go really overboard with my school binders. I would go to Office Max/Target and spend tons of money on brand new cute binders, color-coded tabs, laminated dividers, and labels for every class. I made sure I had a place for EVERYTHING and I kept EVERYTHING in them.
And, although it was helpful to have all of that information in one place, a lot of the sections actually just went unused. As time went on, I began to appreciate simplicity a little more. And now I am 100% certain that simplicity = efficiency!
 
The way that I organize my wedding folders now, I actually learned while I was wedding planning! When it comes to wedding planners, there are some that are huge, excessive, detailed, and expensive. But honestly, all you need is a list of things left to do and a list of things that are done.
A list of things to do and a place to keep receipts of things that are complete? Sounds a little like coursework, doesn’t it? I thought so, too!
Here is my newer, simpler, efficient-er way of organizing schoolwork!

Buy Folders

Buy a simple 2-pocket folder for each class. I like to assign a color to each class and buy them in those colors, but obviously you should buy whatever you think you will want to look at everyday! The main idea here is that these little folders are amazing for the following reasons:
They are easy to fit into your bag/backpack/purse
They are light to carry around campus
They are easy to keep organized
They make it easy to use
They are cheap!

 

Place Syllabus on the Right Side

Once I get my syllabi for my classes, I open it to the page with all of the due dates and place it into the right side of the folder. This makes it super easy to check what chapter I need to read this week, or when that next big project is due. As the semester goes on, I highlight the current week in yellow and re-highlight it in pink when the its complete.

Print Out All Assignment Instructions

At the beginning of the semester, I go to the campus computer lab and print out the directions for every project. Then I put these into the left side of the folder and order them according to their due dates. If I have a physical copy of my current work-in-progress (presentation outline, rough draft, study guide), I keep that on the left side along with its instructions.
OCD SIDE NOTE: I also like to use index cards to keep track of individual assignments because I can paperclip them into my class folder, into my planner, or hang them on the wall. It’s just a quick reference for the when, what, how much, and basic instructions of each assignment.

Keep Graded Papers Behind Syllabus

Once graded assignments are returned, I place them behind the syllabus on the right side of the folder. I only keep my graded assignments. And actually, thanks to the semester assignment spreadsheet, I could even do without keeping those papers (but I just like to).

Create a “Handout Folder” at Home

Create a folder at home for class handouts. Ending the semester with a ton of miscellaneous handouts that you may or may not use in the future is inevitable. Just create a little file folder at home for those types of papers so you don’t have to carry them around all the time!
Of course, there are classes that require more thorough folders (like research projects) but this system works pretty well for basic, “lecture classes”! SUPER simple. SUPER efficient.

Have you developed a system for organizing school binders/folders? Does it work well? What parts of organizing classwork are the hardest for you?

How to Create a Semester Assignment Spreadsheet + FREE Semester Planning Sheet

So, a few months ago, I posted about my study habits and Semester Assignment Spreadsheet in Organized Study Time. I shared all of my deepest, darkest, OCD-iest secrets (and I thought I sounded like a completely crazy person). 

But, as it turns out, some of y’all are just as crazy as I am because you wanted to know how to make the Semester Assignment Spreadsheet

I never even realized that I just glossed over how to make it until you asked, so THANK YOU for bringing it to my attention!

It really is one of the most important ways that I keep my schoolwork and study time organized! 
What is a Semester Assignment Spreadsheet? you might ask.

It is one single list that combines the due dates and important info from all of your classes. 
Ok, but why is that important? 

I think it is really helpful because it allows me to see which class should take top priority at any time during the semester. I also like to put the total points available for each assignment so that I can keep up with my own grades. 
And here it is… How to Create a Semester Assignment Spreadsheet!
{It will save your life during midterms and finals, seriously.}

1. Gather the syllabi from all of your classes

Flip to the part with the due dates (you know, the only part of the syllabus that we actually read). I like to highlight the due dates just so I am 100% sure that I don’t miss any. No, seriously, I read, reread, re-reread it like 20 times to make absolutely sure I don’t skip over something.

That would be completely catastrophic. 

2. Open a Spreadsheet in Excel

Excel is my favorite. My absolute favorite! I’m pretty sure there is nothing that I couldn’t make into a spreadsheet. I have an Apple computer but I bought the Windows package just so I could have Excel. If you don’t have Excel, you could try Numbers from Apple. Also, most computers on campus have Excel (and free prints!) or try a local library or FedEx Office.


(Read: How to Organize Your Class Binders)

 

3. Create Columns

Ok, so in the top of the spreadsheet, the columns are labeled by letters. Just click on one and start typing. Make individual columns out of whatever information is most important to you. 
 
I made 4 columns out of the following: 
 
-Due Date
-Class
-Assignment
 

4. Put in every assignment due date

Now, just go through each syllabus and create a new row for each of the assignments. You can enter them in chronological order or you can enter 1 whole syllabus at a time and sort them out later. It’s really just up to you.

Be sure to fill in all of the information across the columns. When is it due? Which class is it for? What is the name of it? How many points are available?

Then, check it (23 times, if you’re me) to make sure you didn’t skip over any.

5. Sort by due date

There are two ways that you could do this: 
 

A. Select the Due Date column

(click the top of the column one time with your arrow… the whole column should turn light blue)
Then hit AZ Sort on the toolbar. It should sort the items by date.

B. Order the list the old fashioned way

And by the “old fashioned way”, I mean just cut and paste the dates until they are in order.

Also, I included tuition deadlines (can’t make an A if I don’t pay) and since I am nearing graduation (yay!), I am also adding the deadlines for things that need to be submitted to my advisor, exit exam dates, and other administrative stuff that’s required.(Related: How to Balance Grad School and a Full-Time Job)
 

6. Format it so that it all fits onto one page

This is just kind of your preference. I like to choose the clearest, easiest font for me to read (which is Century Gothic) then I just keep minimizing (or maximizing) it until everything fits perfectly onto one page in a nice neat fashion.

Last semester, I went back and split up the spreadsheet by month, which was actually pretty helpful… but it’s totally not necessary.

7. Print it out

And there you go! I encourage printing it out instead of leaving it as a computer document because I love crossing things out! Like, I really love it. Plus, I can put it in my planner or a folder and carry it to class with me.
If I need to discuss a grade with a professor, I have my own running list of all of my grades on that handy little sheet (because, you know, sometimes they act like looking in their grade books is the biggest inconvenience anyone has ever asked of them).
If a classmate asks when something is due or how many points it’s worth, I don’t have to spend time flipping through the syllabus… it’s just all right there together!

(Related: Your Ultimate Back to School Checklist)

8. Track your progress

I feel like this is the way that I close out every post. But seriously, tracking progress is one of the best ways to stay motivated and productive!

Here is what I do:

On the sheet, once I start working on a project, I highlight it in yellow. When I complete it, I re-highlight it in pink. And when I receive my grade, I fill it in with a pencil/pen.

(Related: 5 Must-Know Time Management Tips for College)

DOWNLOAD YOUR FREE SEMESTER PLANNING SHEET HERE

No more “We have a test today?” or “When was that due?” or bursting into tears while everyone else in the class hands in the assignment while you sit there in a stunned state because you forgot about it. 
(And yes, all of those ridiculously irresponsible examples are from my past self)
 
Having (and checking) this one little piece of paper frequently will make your school life feel so simplified. And all of these assignments will not seem so daunting. And the world will be filled with rainbows and butterflies. 
 
And who wouldn’t want that? 🙂
 

What are some ways that you keep track of your assignments? How do you prioritize your projects?