Do you struggle to stay organized? Maybe it was never your thing and it’s not important to you. But we all know that we can’t navigate through optometry school like we did during undergrad. Staying organized will make it much easier to get through all your classes and exams and stay on top of your assignments. If you want to try organization, welcome to the life-changing magic of staying organized: the optometry school edition. Here are my tips on how I stay organized through optometry school to manage my time and maximize it between studying, being involved with extracurriculars and keeping my grades up.
Go through your syllabi
Let’s face it, not many people like to go through the syllabus that our professors give to us at the start of each semester or quarter. But think of your syllabi as the Bible to your success in school. It will tell you the course policies, the topics covered in class, the breakdown of points for your course grade, etc. At the start of every quarter, I go through the syllabus for every class and write down what each course expectation is and what the point or percentage breakdown is for the course grade on a single page. Doing this allows me to easily go back to the one page and refer to what each exam or assignment is worth for which class.
Your planner is your best friend
I carry my planner around with me everywhere I go. I make sure to go through my block schedule and write down every exam and proficiency for the quarter. Then, as I find out about quizzes and assignments throughout the quarter, I will add them to my planner. My preference is to have monthly pages as well as weekly pages with the days of the week. The monthly pages allow me to look at what is coming up for the month and the weekly pages allow me focus on my tasks each week. I also like to color code on the monthly pages. I highlight exams and quizzes in one color, and assignments with another.
Find out what kind of learner you are
Finding out your learning style will help you maximize your studying and keep your mind organized with the various courses you need to stay on top of. Knowing your learning style will also help you be more of an active learner. If you’re not sure what your learning style is, there are some helpful tools and quizzes online that may help!
Use a study calendar
Study calendars are a great way to keep track of your studying and keeping up with your classes. From attending classes, labs and clinic to finishing assignments, it can be hard to find time to solely dedicate to studying. A study calendar will be a good reminder and a useful tool to set aside some time each day to study and review the material. There are a lot of free study calendar templates available for use on your tablet/computer or as a printout!
Make to-do lists!
To-do lists are my favorite, there’s just something so gratifying about checking things off.
I like to plan out my week using the weekly section in my planner and making daily to-do lists. I try to make it as realistic as possible, and even though I may not be able to check everything off each day, it gives me a good idea of where I want to be by the end of each week.
Create good notetaking and study habits
The most important thing about notetaking is being able to go back to your notes and understand them. Find out what works for you, whether it’s writing your notes by hand or typing them. Creating good study habits also is going to be useful in keeping yourself organized. Beginning with some realistic and concrete steps is a great start! Are you most productive during the day or at night? If you know you can focus better at night, plan your studying for the evening. The quicker you make good notetaking and studying into a habit, the more organized you will be in managing your time in the long run.
Keep your notes in one place
I have found this to be one of the most useful tips during optometry school so far. Having my notes in one place allows me to know where all of my notes are at all times. I usually have my current quarter’s notes in my tablet and once I am done with a quarter, I transfer all my notes to an external hard drive where I organize my notes into folders by year, quarter and course. That way, I will always know where I can find my notes and turn to them when I begin studying for boards.
Designate a spot for all your things
Whether it’s your notes, your optometry equipment, your backpack, or even your glasses, create a space for all your belongings and designate the spot as its home. Once you’re done using it, make sure to remember to put it back in its spot every time. You will be able to find whatever you need at all times and keep yourself prepared for any situation.
Hopefully you’ll try at least one of these tips and find it to be useful! Optometry school is tough and a lot of work. I’m sure we’ve all found ourselves falling behind at some point. It’s completely understandable to feel overwhelmed with studying, doing homework and practicing skills, all while trying to maintain a social life during this pandemic. I hope you’ll find staying organized to be helpful and somewhat stress-relieving. Don’t forget to keep your mental health in check and know your resources on where you can turn if you ever need help. Lastly, know that you’re not alone! Good luck, and happy studying (and organizing)! J