I know everyone has a post like this, but not everyone has the same methods. So, I thought that I’d post my own study habits and tips, the things that I personally do to succeed in nursing school.
1. Stay Hydrated
I always make sure I have a FULL drink. I make sure that it’s full because if it’s almost empty, then I have a reason to be distracted soon after starting, and that just isn’t good.
2. Keep Clutter At Bay
For me, if my study area is cluttered with non-school related things (makeup, nail polish, mail, etc.), I get distracted and MUST straighten up. One of my nursing professors referred to this as “swooping.” Basically, you will suddenly have an urge to clean – mop, vacuum, scrub the walls – when you are avoiding writing a paper, studying, or doing any type of homework. I’m guilty of this. So I find that if my study space is cleaned up and clear of clutter, I can plow through my task efficiently. Otherwise, straightening the desk turns into dusting which turns into vacuuming which turns into redecorating. You get the idea.
3. Keep Your Supplies Nearby
Nothing is worse than really getting into taking notes and realizing that your white out or highlighters are elsewhere. I always do a little check before I begin to make sure what I need and think I’ll need are within reach. Stuff I don’t often need, like staples for my stapler, are not kept within reach of course, because otherwise it would be too crowded, but my stapler is nearby. I keep everything in a little set of drawers, or in pencil cups and bags (the bags go to and from class with me), and it’s all nearby.
4. Know What Works Best for YOU
For me, I like certain products. I use the Post-it flags for marking pages are parts of books that I’m renting. I will highlight in texts that I have purchased. I use the Mildliners to highlight within my notes, and pens or pencils to take notes. This depends on the class, and the notes. I do prefer the look of pens for notes, but for certain classes pencil is more beneficial (anything with math or equations). I also like to use index cards for vocabulary, so I always have those on hand nearby. Another must have for me is white out. When you’re using pen, if you make a mistake, you can’t erase. I hate the look of something scribbled out, so I white it out, and then write again. Yes, I’m a perfectionist.
5. Fit Your Environment to YOU
I need a noise distraction while studying. If I have absolute silence, I promise you I will not be concentrating at all. Silence usually leads to swooping, so I keep either a TV show on (something I’ve seen many times before, like Roseanne or Sex and the City, because I don’t have to pay attention) or watch makeup videos on YouTube. I do sometimes listen to music, usually when studying on campus or at Starbucks, but that can be just as distracting as silence for me at times so I avoid it. I also like to dress as comfortably as possible. Yoga pants, a tank top, and a sweater are my personal uniform.
I try to keep snacks within reach too, so if hunger strikes between meals, I can grab that rather than schlep to the kitchen and fix something. I have granola bars, candy canes (I stock up over the holidays), and almonds. Currently the Dark Chocolate Sea Salt and Salted Caramel almonds are nearby. I also keep a pack of gum nearby.
7. Personal Care
What I mean by this is simple little “beauty” things. I have lotion, lip balm, and Kleenex on the makeup table (or catch all, if you will) next to my desk to use as needed. Handling paper constantly is drying on your hands, and I hate dry skin. I also hate chapped lips, so having these two items nearby help me stay focused. The Kleenex is always there, no matter what, but since we’re in winter, it’s beneficial in case you’re not feeling well. I also keep cough drops on hand for when a cold should strike.
I feel like this is pretty obvious, but I wanted to mention it. So, I have a small calendar that hangs on the bulletin board next to my desk. I use that to write out any doctor’s appointments, various other appointments, or events that are going on (think family things). I have my planner, which has those same things in it, but also my assignments and school-related tasks, of course. I don’t use any special planner. I like one with enough space for each day to write out what needs to be done, but also has a monthly view to go with the weekly view. The ones I have now is the size of a regular notebook (8 1/2 x 11), and I love it. It’s nothing fancy (I can’t justify spending the money on a Filofax or anything too expensive). I don’t really use the planner for anything other than school – as I said, I have a calendar hanging, and I keep a small one in my purse to track appointments when I’m making one at a different office.
9. Anything You Need for Your School
I always make sure to have any handouts, Power Points, other printouts, and the syllabus on hand for that class I’m studying or working on, in addition to the notebook or binder, and the text(s). I find it easier to stay on track and know what I should be covering if it is all at hand.
10. Syllabus/Course Calendar!!!
So my last habit/tip is the syllabus. Duh Amber, you’re saying, but hear me out. So, most of my professors have the course calendar within the syllabus. If they don’t, I just use the course calendar. Granted, I have this all written in my planner, BUT I like to have it in multiple areas. I have a lot of assignments to keep track of (who doesn’t, amiright?), so to make sure I didn’t forget to write something in the planner, I have the course calendar to help me out. Once I have completed a task, I highlight it. That way, a quick glance tells me what I have to do and what I have done. I started this last semester, when 4 of my 5 classes were online, and 2 were accelerated, and it was incredibly beneficial! So now, once I finish reading and taking notes on chapter two, I highlight that (I always take notes on the readings, so if I haven’t done so yet, but I read, it’s not highlighted yet). If I take week 4’s quiz, that is highlighted. Once I complete week 14’s discussion posts, that is highlighted. You get the idea. This way, if I forgot to write the discussion on my planner, I don’t lose out on the points.
11. Online Aid
So, I know most of these have been shared before, but a rundown of what I use to stay organized and on track online:
Momentum for Chrome
SoundDrown.com (I love to do the coffee shop with the rain, or the rain with the night)
And, if you are easily distracted, find a website blocker to keep you off of Tumblr/Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest. I used to use one, but I would find ways around it (hello browser without the blocker installed!), but if you are more disciplined than I am, find one you like and use it!
And that’s it! I hope that this list helps someone out in finding a way to study that is maybe better than your current way. If you have any questions, my ask is open!