How To Be Productive This Semester & Stay On-Task

By Kaitlin Hurtado on October 2, 2018

A brand new school term can spark plenty of emotions, both positive and negative. You can dread the amount of work that will soon pile up and ruin the free-time that came with the break between semesters. You can be excited at the prospect of a fresh slate and a new opportunity to be productive. Whatever the case, you should be taking advantage of the fresh slate that a new school term brings.

Regardless of the way that the last term ended for you, the new term is a chance to start out productive and maintain your productivity throughout the term. If you’ve found yourself struggling to begin your school terms right, or maintain the work ethic you begin the school term with, here are some tips on starting out productive and maintaining productivity throughout a new school term.


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Out with the old and in with the new

A great way to kickstart the new term is to start off with an organized study space. Sort through your current study space to weed out things you do not actually need for the new term. Old textbooks? Try reselling them for some money for this term’s textbooks, or shelving them for later use if you think you will need them. Used notebooks? Sort through them to see if they have any information that will help you in later classes or recycle them if you no longer have any use for them. Get rid of old papers and worksheets of past classes, broken pens, or other items you will not be needing.

Decluttering your space before the new term with let you start out the term with a clean, organized space. You won’t have to sort through old books and papers every time you sit down to do coursework, and a cleaner space makes way for a clearer mind.

If treating yourself to new stationery and school supplies helps you feel more excited about doing your schoolwork, do not be afraid to splurge a little to have you a little more mentally prepared for the new term.

Fill out your planner

Once you have the syllabus for each course you are taking this term, start filling out your planner. Whether it’s in a planner that you carry with you everywhere or a digital calendar like Google Calendar, it’s important to fill out a planner of some type so that you are always aware of your time commitments and deadlines throughout the term.

Find out a method that works for you. Emphasizing bigger deadlines, or choosing to include your day-to-day commitments. Color coding by class or type of assignment, or using different symbols to highlight different deadlines. What works for one student’s planner may not work for you, so do not be afraid to design your planner on a trial-and-error basis. Improvisation is key.

Make a study plan

After you have filled out your planner and look at each syllabus, try making a study plan that you can follow throughout the term. It can be as detailed as you think it needs to be. You can start out with big deadlines to avoid feeling overwhelmed from the get-go. Start listing out your quizzes, midterms, essays, and finals. Work your way down to smaller assignments like discussion posts, reading responses, and readings.

You can make separate ones for classes if you would prefer, but it’s important to remember that the schedule for each class you are taking will continuously impact the other. While one week may look relaxed for one class, it may be packed for another class. Try designing your study plan with all of your classes in mind, one easy week or night for one class may mean that you might spend a little more time on another class that has a ton of work.

Making a study plan early on in the term gives you a guide for being productive, and will help make you accountable for school work when you can see what you should be doing when you think there’s nothing to do. Remember that the study plan isn’t definitive, and you can always adjust it as you see fit.

Get a study buddy (or two) 

When classes do start, try to make at least one friend in each of your classes that you can call a study buddy. Get their contact information so that you can contact each other for questions. These questions can be as simple as clarifying assignments or sending each other links that you deem helpful for the course.

If you are lucky, your study buddy will actually want to study with you outside of class. Getting a study buddy that wants to well in the class just like you do will help encourage you to be productive in the class when someone else can hold you accountable to maintain good studying habits. 

Take advantage of the new term to boost productivity and maintain good studying habits until the end. Best of luck!

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