Thursday, 14 January 2016

How I make notes in lectures

I've done a few years of part time study previous to starting my degree this year, so I'm pretty down with the note taking. However I am the kind of person who starts the year using one method for making notes, and then decides that it isn't working and it needs to change... and I'll have to transfer all my notes into a new format. So this may well end up being a series of posts...

But in this post, I'm going to talk you through my current note taking method.

For the most part, my notes in class are written on the PowerPoint handouts we are given at the beginning of each session. Both my lecturers print these for us, but I know that not everybody has that luxury. So all my notes are written on the hand outs. This works well for me in class - I don't have to worry about writing everything down that's on the screen because it's already there and there's plenty of extra space around the slides that I can make notes of any discussions we've had or extra points raised.

I have one notebook for each module I'm studying this year. I personally prefer this to subject notebooks, or refill pads, just because then all my notes are contained in one place. For those of you screaming "But what if you forget to take the right notebook?" I don't actually write in these in lectures so it's not a big issue. But for the most part as they're pretty small I tend to keep them all in my uni bag anyway.

After lectures
After our sessions (typically over the weekend) I sit and re-read through my notes and this is when I transfer them into my notebooks. This is when I begin to highlight and colour code. I definitely find that this second writing of my notes - in neat! with it all colour coded really helps cement it in my mind. I then use these notes to refer to in lectures, or when I'm writing assignments etc.

I know that this system won't work for everyone so I'm definitely going to follow this post up with another about how I take notes on my laptop, and then probably follow that up with a comparison! So if that interests you, keep your eyes peeled :)

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

How to meet deadlines

Happy New Year!! Christmas is over, I'm back at work and next week I'll be back at university. I have had the sudden realisation that I had great plans to get loads of work done over the holidays while I wasn't working. But instead I spent the two weeks off eating far too much food and watching Greys Anatomy. I started writing this post when I had a massive deadline looming and I realised out of 5 pieces of work that needed completing. But I'm now revisiting it as the realisation of upcoming deadlines hits me after not touching my uni books for the whole of Christmas. So here are the things I find most helpful when trying to meet deadlines.

1. Write them all down. 
Whether it's in a diary, on a wall planner... on a post it note stuck on your desk. Write them down and make sure you always know when they are. How many weeks? How many deadlines do you have? It's so easy to become complacent thinking your deadline is a month away. But suddenly it's two weeks away... and then it's a week away... and before you know it, it's tomorrow!

2. Create a study plan
Make a list of all the steps you need to complete a piece of work in order from start to finish. If it's an essay, you need to read the question and work out how you're going to answer it, then you'll need to find evidence to back up your argument, you need to plan a structure... The list goes on and on. Once your list is complete, working backwards allocate each task to a day. Or pair tasks up. It's amazing how easily a piece of work comes together when you're completing little bits all the time. 

3. Take into consideration other commitments you may have
When you're creating a study plan make sure you've remembered the other commitments you've got each week.  It's your best friends birthday, or you're going home for the weekend... Whatever it may be don't plan to do work at times you really know you won't get it done! 

4. Be realistic 
Whilst I've never be the kind of girl to write a draft a month before the deadline and redraft several times before writing a final version, I have recently discovered how much easier it can be to edit a piece of work when you've spent a few days not working on it. Personally I like to make my study plan so that my assignment is finished the week before a deadline, this way I have the time to leave it for a couple of days and then come back to it without being too close to hand in.

5. Focus
When I'm working, I put my phone on airplane mode, I turn my internet off on my laptop if I'm not using it. I listen to music and generally try and shut myself off from the world! It's obvious, but it makes it so much easier to focus and get a good amount of work done!

So, that's how I meet deadlines! I'd love to hear what you do to ensure you're all up to date and handed in on time?!