Finals Cheat Sheet + Printable Study Checklist

24 short days until Christmas! The music, the decorations, the social events with friends and family, and all of those cheesy Hallmark christmas movies are just waiting for you…

…right on the other side of Finals (dun dun dunnnnnn).

And because I know you’re stressing (because it is literally the most stressful part of the semester), I’m compiling some of my favorite study tips into this one post! (complete with a free little checklist to hang up in your study space to remind you)! READY?!

Planner: SO IMPORTANT! Have a plan before you sit down to study! Otherwise, you’ll just spend a bunch of time trying to figure out what you already have done, what you need to do, and where you need to start! Keeping a planner that is up -to-date cuts down on prep time and boosts actual study time!

Study Materials: Where are your notes? Your textbook? Did you leave something in your car? Do you need to print some PowerPoints from your class website? GATHER everything BEFORE you sit down to study! Nothing is more frustrating than being ready to work and then realizing you don’t have everything you need to be able to work!

Clean Environment: Sometimes, if I’m having a hard time focusing, I look at my environment. Do I have papers scattered all over the place? Are there random things that are out of place that are subconsciously distracting me? Take a minute to organize things and get your study environment as clean and organized as possible!

Productive Time of the Day: What time of day do you work best? Research shows that 9am-12pm is typically the best time for completing cognitive tasks (which is why most businesses and schools are open during this time), but YOU know YOU better than anyone. Are all of your roommates out between 1 and 2 every day? Then maybe that’s your most optimal time!

Minimal Distractions: You love Instagram. I love Instagram. We all love Insta. And Twitter. And Pinterest. But they are a constantly alluring distraction from the task at hand (studying, duh). And guess what? That just makes you want to check your phone even more. Resist the urge! In fact, eliminate it altogether by putting your phone on silent and sticking it in a drawer or in a different room.

And no, sending Snapchats of yourself pretending to be asleep (or crying) while surrounded by your notes does not count as studying! Sorry.

Comfortable Clothes: If there were ever a perfect time for Victoria’s Secret’s entire PINK collection existing, it’s Finals week! This is literally (and by literally, I mean figuratively… obviously) your free pass to live in yoga pants and over-sized t-shirts for the next two weeks! TAKE ADVANTAGE!

Writing Utensils: This is so beyond obvious that I feel silly even mentioning it. BUT really think about what kind of writing utensils you need for studying! Highlighters for highlighting in your text book? Pencils for doing math? Colored pens for editing your paper? Put some thought into what would benefit you the most for studying each subject!

Paper: Same as above. Post-It’s that you can jot notes on and stick in your textbook? Notebook paper for outlining a paper? Index cards for memorizing definitions? Graph paper for practicing statistics problems? (by the way, if you are currently in Statistics, know that my prayers are with you)

Calming Music: A long time ago, we used to have to buy those relaxing CD’s from Target (you know, the one’s where you could select a preview to every single one first?). But these days, we are super blessed with things like iHeart Radio, iTunes Radio, and Pandora. Go to “Add New Station” and then select “Browse Genre Stations”… there are countless choices! And if you need some choices, check out this post!

Timer: I work faster with a time-limit! And I’m guessing you do, too. This really, REALLY helps to cut down on distractions because you know that, if you only have an hour, you better not waste any of that time by Facebook stalking.

There will be plenty of time for that when the timer goes off.

Start: If you’re a new reader to this blog, you should watch the video in this post. It’s less than 5 minutes and the information is INVALUABLE for productivity! One of the most important things that I learned from it is to JUST START! Once you’ve started a project, your brain gets this nagging feeling to go back and finish it!

And if you’re having a hard time starting, maybe check out this post to find out why!

Focus: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: One thing at a time. One day at a time. This is the motto that my super laid-back (no really, like Matthew McConaughey level of laid backness) husband tells me to repeat when I’m feeling overwhelmed. Some other of his favorites: do less and just get it done.

Track Your Progress: WRITE DOWN WHAT YOU DO! This allows you to (1) be proud of yourself and (2) keep up with where you need to begin next time!

Relax: Last spring, I posted a video from Dr. Marty Lobdell on studying. One of the first things he says is to work for less than one hour! In fact, most of our attention spans run out around 30 minutes. So even though pulling an “all nighter” may feel productive, it’s actually having the opposite effect! Your mind (and your body) need sleep, too! Study in smaller, super-intense bursts of time instead!


Update To-Do List: If you want, you can print out the free printable progress tracker in this post to keep you up-to-date with your progress on different assignments. OR, you can just use a regular old piece of paper to keep up with how far along you made it during your “bursts” of study time. When it’s time for you to stop working because your timer went off (or because you came a little too close to throwing your laptop across the room), write down the very next 3 things that you need to do for this project! This will allow you to get straight back to work as productively as possible the next time you work on this project!

Clear Computer Desktop to Neutral: Clear to Neutral is a beautiful concept. You can read all about it here, but the basic idea is this… Leave everything exactly the way you want to find it next time! Instead of leaving 14 windows open on your computer when you go do sleep, name every file! Close every browser window! And straighten up all those loose documents into neat and organized files. You can leave your most frequently used documents and folders on your desktop but that’s all!

Clear Actual Desktop to Neutral: So, no one looks at a super messy desk and says “ooh, I could get so much work done there!”. They just don’t. Keep your environment organized. Put papers away… even if it’s just into a drawer for now. Your study space should be a place where you actually enjoy being!

Reward: Um, hello? You just checked a few things off of your to-do list? GOOD JOB! It doesn’t have to be perfect. You don’t have to get it all done right now. There will always be more to do (believe me, always). Every time you work on schoolwork, you’re more prepared than you were before. So, celebrate that! Give yourself permission to mentally check out while mindlessly scrolling through Tumblr. or watching a silly YouTube video or having cookies or champagne (or all of the above).

Yes, Finals are coming. But you are ready! 🙂

Here is a printable version of the checklist (if it works)!

How are you preparing for finals? Are you feeling overwhelmed or do you feel like you’ve got it together? Can you think of anything to add to this checklist? If so, add it below! 

A Look Inside Organized Charm’s New Etsy Shop!

Last week, I made a pretty big announcement. Who decides to throw an Etsy shop into the mix with finals rapidly approaching? And not just normal finals… but the culmination of one’s graduate school career? Oh, that would be me. No big deal.

And even though it has been a lot of work to get everything in the shop set up, I have to say that I am SO, SO happy that I decided to do this! I already have 10 (yes, 10!) printables available in the shop and I’m adding another one today! YAY!

Before I officially announced this shop via OC, I wanted to be sure that I could successfully create “mini” planner pages… and guess what? I can! And I, of all people, am totally thrilled about that!

So this post is dedicated to the shop! Kind of like a cheat sheet / tour / what to expect!

(And who among us doesn’t love to know what to expect, right?!)

Okay, so here is everything I can think of to tell you!

PICTURED: Daily Checklist with Timeline and 5 Categories
Who: The shop name on Etsy is “Organized Charm“! (obvious one, right?)
What: Mix & Match Planner Printables
(like, YOU choose what YOU want to have in YOUR planner)
*Items Available:

Full Size (8 1/2 x 11) 


Mini Size (5 1/2 x 8 1/2)


Mini Grid Weekly View

*Coming Soon: More mini printables! Including a Cleaning Schedule, Daily View, Finance Tracker, Month at a Glance, Year at a Glance, and more options for weekly views!


PICTURED: Horizontal Weekly View
Where: Etsy (AKA the website equally as addictive as Pinterest)

When: This shop technically opened on Monday… but it’s grand opening is TODAY! YAY! 🙂

PICTURED: Year at a Glance Printable 
Why: I created this shop because I wanted more options/control over what goes in my planner. And if I wanted that, I thought that other people might be looking for that, too!

PICTURED: Month at a Glance
How: These are instant downloads, which is super convenient! If you’ve ordered from Etsy before, then you are familiar with how it works. But for those of you who aren’t so familiar with it…

Here’s how it works!

1. Login/Visit Etsy
2. Choose the printables that you want/need/love the most!
3. Checkout
4. Download your new printables!

Easy peasy lemon squeezy! 🙂

Have you used Etsy in the past? Did you have a good experience? What kinds of printables would you like to see in the shop?

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 austinkleon.com) 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
…helpful
 
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?