I would put organisation at the very top of most important factors when it comes to studying a doctorate in psychology, or any university degree of any subject for that matter. In a recent blog post of the top tips for post-graduate psychology students, I highlight this point along with should initiative and the importance of self-care. With these ten tips below you will be well on your way to not only being organised but staying organised. The rest will be a breeze…eh…

  1. Daily Diary:

    • Make a consistent effort to write out the structure of your day, every day. Account for every hour and what you will be doing. That way, you know how much time you have for everything you have to do, and you’re more likely to stick to the tasks at hand.
  2. Daily Check-In:

    • Including course booklets and overview documents.
    • Make a daily effort to check in with all your material, re-read some important emails about classes or coursework, check you haven’t missed any emails, and check over course hand booklets to ensure you are up to date with hand in requirements and expectations.
  3. Set of Weekly Goals with Max 3 Monthly Goals:

    • Take your course week by week whilst still keeping focused on some long-term goals. I have found this the best way of staying organised with the tasks I have to do.
    • You shouldn’t have too many monthly goals, I advise a max of 3, that way you can stay focused on them and maintain their importance whilst still working on the weekly tasks you have to get done.
    • Write these goals down week by week and month by month, keep them in your daily diary perhaps. Whatever you do, don’t just keep them in your head!
  4. Highlighters:

    • When you think you have enough highlighters, you don’t.
    • Make sure you have highlighters of every colour and have a use and a place for every colour.
    • We will discuss why in the next point.
  5. Create Your Own Colour Coding Chart:

    • Create your own colour coding chart and stick to it throughout your studies.
    • Have a colour code for each subject you learn. Use these colours to highlight the lecture notes that correspond to the subject for the headings of the notes, the title of the file you keep those notes in and use that colour to highlight information you read that is applicable to that topic.
    • Colour coding is really important and makes the process of organisation that bit easier.
  6. Phone apps:

    • Apps on your phone can be a fantastic tool for any university student that wants to prioritise organisation. They are portable, you always have it handy and you can update it as and when you need.
    • The list below outlines some of the apps you should be considering for your smartphone in order to stay organised
      • Voice recorder – For your own notes, you might have ideas and you don’t know how to write them down. A voice recorder can be ideal for this.
      • Scanner – To turn lecture notes into pdfs.
      • Evernote – Evernote is a brilliant app to log all of your ideas and additional notes on your studies that you can reflect on later.
      • Uni app – Your university may very well have an app that keeps you up to date with the course and/or university updates. This app should be a priority on your phone.
      • Study timetable and schedule planner – Make sure you have an app that outlines your weekly planner for your classes. You’ll never miss a beat when you have all the details on an app like this.
      • App diary – Having a daily diary that highlight deadlines, daily classes, placements and important meetings with reminders. This will really help you stay on top of what will already be a hugely demanding schedule as you study and work.
  1. Assigned Folders and Corresponding Clip Filers:

    • Throughout your day of classes and studies, you will have numerous pages of notes from lecture and/or your own reading. As has already been said, you should be using your colour chart and highlighting these notes appropriately. With you in your bag, you should also have corresponding plastic wallets or folders where the notes from each topic go into. So, if you have a class on social psychology, all your notes from social psychology for that day go into that folder. Your notes from each folder should then go into a clip file folder when you get home. This way you never misplace notes and you keep track of what you have been learning.
  2. Start Projects Early:

    • This is a factor to staying organised that is so often overlooked. Yes, you may have an essay or two due together in 6 months time and not much else, coursework wise, up until that point. Start now!! Get the work done early and that way you feel much less pressure come deadline time and you end up with a better product. You will come to realise that the most valuable commodity you have during your studies is time, so make the most of it!
  3. Keep All Notes and Have a Place for Them:

    • This is simple enough, make all of your notes easy to find as you never know when you will need them.
  4. Organise Your Materials Before Your Studies:

    • Organisation, and a system of organisation should come before you even start studying. The time you have before undertaking a course or subject should be used to create your system.
    • Have all your materials and all of your organisation systems in place before you even pick up a journal article.

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