I’d like to start off by telling ya’ll that staying organized in nursing school isn’t very different from staying organized in any other type of college. The main difference, I think, is that the amount of information (read: notes, paperwork, exams, etc) is greatly increased. I cannot stress to you enough how important staying on top of things is. Falling behind on the lecture notes and reading is a disaster waiting to happen (trust me; it happened to me for pretty much every exam for as long as I have been a student).
Not everything in this post will work for everyone. As students, we are all individual and we each have our own way of doing things. What I do to keep myself organized and from going crazy during the semester might be vastly different from how you keep your ducks in a row.
So, my lovely readers, here are some of the tricks and tools I use to stay organized in nursing school. Enjoy.
Dry Erase Boards – These are some of my favorite ways to remind myself of due dates and any upcoming projects or study groups. I keep a small on the make-up stand under my bulletin board by my bedroom door so i can see it (and write on it) often.
As you can see, right now I am not in school so it is kinda empty but I keep important dates listed just to keep me on top of things.
Planners and Calendars – Buy one. Seriously. And use it. I had assignments and projects due, as well as quizzes or exams pretty much every day I attended lecture, not to mention clinical, study groups, and the occasional night out. If I wasn’t able to see my week laid out in front of me, I would have been completely lost.
Whether you buy just one big wall calendar, a planner to carry with you, or use a calendar app on your computer or phone; try to stick with just one. I use to keep a giant wall calendar in my bed room but stopped once I started using my weekly/monthly planner [Uncalender = fab]. I was worried that if I relied on both, things would not be transferred over from one to the other and wires would get crossed, resulting in me missing something important.
How do you take notes?
Computer-based note taking – If you are the kind of student to type your notes, congrats on being so environmentally friendly [unless you are like me and print them out anyway…opps]. Make sure you title your notes appropriately so they are easier to locate when you need them. The date, course, and lecture topics are a good place to start [example: NURS210_Jan5_ MusculoskeletalDysfunctions]. I would also create separate files for each class and placing your notes in them rather than just leaving them in the main document area.
I know several students who rely on Evernote or Microsoft OneNote and that seems to work for them.
Paper-based note taking – This is my preferred method of note taking. There is just something about putting pen to paper that helps me retain information like typing never could. Unfortunately, it also generates the most mess and clutter.
For my Maternal-Child nursing class (affectionately referred to by some of my classmates as “Tw*ts and Tots”….or “C*nts and Runts”), the professors (3 different ones) lectures according to chapter. The easiest way for me to organize the notes was numerically…from earliest chapter to the later ones. I found that trying to put them chronologically (in order of their lecture date) was confusing to me, particularly when we jumped from talking about give birth one day to respiratory problems in children the next.
But 9 times out of 10, I can find what I need to. It is basically organized chaos.
Do yourself a favor and try to write any little reminders in your planner. You did get a planner, right?