It’s already that time of the year again, and school is back in session! Due to Christmas & New Year, winter break feels like it just comes and goes in an instant. Any who’s, I hope everyone’s semester is off to a great start! From the title, you already know what I’m gonna be chatting with you about. It may be a little late, seeing as the semester already started, or it maybe it’s perfect timing depending on how crappy your semester is going so far.
Compared to my days as an undergrad, I’ve definitely discovered that a lottttt of prep work has to go into making a semester in nursing school successful. It takes skill to properly kick start the semester! You can’t just show up to class, remember all the assignments due that week, and cram the night before the test. The key to a successful semester is to embrace your inner type A personality and become the overachiever you’ve only ever seen in those corny-cliche high school dramas. You know who I’m talking about. That one character that always knows what’s going on stays one step ahead of the game, and while everyone else is crying and begging the teacher for extra credit, they’re just sitting in a corner chilling.
I follow these steps faithfully, and I have been since I first stepped foot into the nursing program. Yeah, I get called an overachiever often, but I never take it as an insult. In fact, I think of it as a compliment. It just means that you’re one of the few people who has their Sh** together. And trust me, in nursing school, there are very few of those people.
First things first…
Google calendar, planner, journal, excel sticky notes, random app, etc. In order to successfully kick start the semester, you have to create an organization system. It doesn’t matter what you use; just find somewhere you can write down all your assignments, readings, test and make sure you have easy access to it. Don’t download a cute digital planner onto goodnotes if you don’t plan on always having your tablet on hand or downloading the app! Don’t worry about aesthetic purposes and what that chick on Instagram/YouTube/Twitter did! Be honest with yourself and focus on what fits your needs! I have a great post here that covers all the best organizational systems. I break down different organization methods and give some fantastic recommendations!
#1 Get organized
Once you have found a resource to write down ALL of your important dates, grab that syllabus, course calendar, and whatever else the teacher provided and precede to write everything down. If using a planner, I recommend writing due dates on the monthly views and readings on the weekly views. I personally use an Erin Condren academic planner. The monthly and weekly views are great for writing all the due dates, and the projects & exams section is where I create my study plans before a test.
Another excellent method I use is to write out a master schedule. Over on Straight A nursing, you can find all the details, but essentially you just place the due dates of everything for the semester on an excel document. You then print that bad boy out, slap it in your binder, and keep it on you at all times. As the semester progresses, you check off the assignments as you turn them in. This will help keep you on top of your work and give you something to refer back to if anyone ever asks about a due date.
#2 Make a Schedule
Getting organized focuses on semester planning, but also making a schedule is all about daily and weekly planning. I want you to carefully look at the readings and videos your professors assigned to you and plan out how you’ll accomplish these. If you have 5 days to read 8 chapters, turn in 2 assignments, and do an online quiz, how do you realistically plan on spreading out the work? Writing out a list of weekly readings & assignments and dividing it amongst the days will save you SO. MUCH. TIME.
Obviously, this schedule is not set in stone, but it gives you a great starting point and allows you to efficiently manage your time. If you’ve already made plans to spend the weekend with friends, then take time at the beginning of the week to wisely assign different tasks to different days. I recommend planning your weekly schedule for 2 weeks at a time. This way, you can carry unfinished tasks over from one week to the next without getting confused.
#3 Stay ahead
Remember all those due dates and assignments we wrote down? Well, how much of it can you start or complete today? In the previous semester, I had a teacher who posted every assignment for the semester 2 weeks before class started. On the first day of class, we were informed that one of our fellow students had completed EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. of the online assignments before the first day of class. Now I’m not saying you have to be at that level, but if you stay a few chapters or 1-2 assignments ahead, you are not only staying on top of your education, but now you have tons of wiggle room just in case you want to make plans to get away for a weekend (or 2).
#4 Stay motivated
Switching from vacation mode back to student mode is always a struggle. Staying in studious student mode and not deviating to potato mode is always the hardest. From the start until the end of the semester, it is a constant internal struggle to push yourself to do what you know you should be doing but don’t want to. Reading motivational quotes, watching uplifting videos are great ways to get your engine going. I’m also a firm believer in the quote “Misery loves company,” so I usually find motivation by watching nursing school vlogs or reading funny nursing school memes on Instagram. Let’s be honest you’re going to want to lay on the couch and stay on the couch at some point. Social media exist, and endless scrolling is a disease. And there is nothing wrong with that! But also remember that the mindset you start the semester with will be the one that carries you forward. Start positive, stay strong, and find ways to push yourself up whenever you feel like you’re falling.
#5 Know your resources
Please, PLEASE don’t be one of those people who have no clue what additional learning opportunities their school offers or what is available on the web! Before school starts, you should be looking up great resources or tools that can make your semester easier. Start the semester knowing what is available to you, and make use of what you have. I already compiled a few of my favorite resources for you to make use of. Remember, people, we work smarter, not harder.