Digital or Analogue The Essentials for Organised Students
Like most of us, you’re likely juggling multiple priorities on any given day. Study commitments, work, family time, a house renovation, a personal fitness goal – How do you keep track of it all? Productivity apps and hacks are thick on the ground, but their very popularity can feel overwhelming. With so many options jostling for attention, how do you find a system that works for you?
First, decide whether a digital or analogue approach will suit you best. Many people like the convenience of having notifications pop up on a smartphone and easy-to-use apps. Others feel more comfortable with a pen and a notebook. Both have their pros and cons. Either way, there are three essentials recommended for any student juggling a busy life, with options for both the digital and analogue lovers.
1. A task planner
For MBA students in particular, a clear and realistic plan for when you will fit study into your schedule and the tasks you need to complete will be vital to keeping on top of your study priorities.
Digital – There are many apps on the market to assist with this need, from Todoist to Asana. Consider whether you need the ability for groups to see the status of a project or whether this is intended to be a personal to-do list, and choose accordingly.
Analogue – Tired of juggling a day planner, diary and notebook simultaneously? Try bullet journaling, a system that combines all of those functions into one simple notebook. It can be as complicated or simple as you like, and provides a way to keep your tasks, appointments, reference information and calendar all in one place. If that seems too daunting, the tried-and-true Filofax is well worth the investment.
2. A note taking system
Students will always need to take notes. Whether you’re studying from a textbook, listening to a recorded webinar or watching a live presentation, the act of taking notes from the material delivered helps you to coalesce and conceptualise the information.
Digital – Evernote is a great generalist system which allows you to create digital notebooks and notes, and even share those with a team – ideal if you’re working on a group assignment. For creating long documents like a dissertation, Scrivener comes to the rescue: this popular software offers a management system and text editor in one.
Analogue – In the analogue world, what you use to take your notes with is less important than how you take them. Keep notes simple rather than trying to rewrite entire chunks of material. Phrase ideas in your own words, and stick to outlines and keywords. Notes organised within a hierarchy are the most effective for later comprehension. It’s this act of distilling information that makes note taking powerful – as you’re absorbing the material rather than just recording it for later.
3. A filing system
As a student, you’ll have textbooks and learning materials to read, assignments to write, and a lot of extra information that will be valuable for your career long after you have completed your degree. So keep it all, and file it for easy access.
Digital – Rather than clog up your office space, you could consider a digital filing system. Take time at the start of your studies to set it up with the right files, indexes and coding, and file as you go for top results.
Analogue – Take some time to set aside physical space in your house for study. A filing system should be organised in a way that you can see immediately what needs to be done as a first priority and where information is stored. As with a digital system, file as you go and make sure your system is easy to use.
What do you think?
Whether you prefer an analogue or a digital approach to your studies, the time it takes to make sure your organisation is on point is well worth it. What systems and processes have you adopted for ultimate study organisation?
This article was written by Tanya Ashworth-Keppel on behalf of the Australian Institute of Business. All opinions are that of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of AIB. Products mentioned do not constitute an endorsement. The following sources were used to compile this article: The Admin Assistant, Richard Branson (LinkedIn), Bullet Journal, Mind Tools and Lifehacker.