The beginning of a semester can be very stressful. With classes, clinical, exams, care plans, paper deadline and personal obligations, a student can get overwhelmed very easily. Whether you are starting your first semester or starting a different semester, it is very important to be organized. It doesn’t matter whether you use a paper planner or an electronic planner. None of them work unless you use them. Take some time for a planning session at the beginning of the semester. Below are some tips to help you get started planning for the new semester.
1. Fill in school-related items that have dates.
It’s the end of your first week and you have most if not all of your syllabi. After you calm down, the first thing you need to do is to get all of that stuff out of your mind and down on paper or the electronic source of your choosing. During this planning session gather all your syllabi and begin by filling out all of your classes, clinicals, exams and items that have recurring dates and due dates. Block off the times you will be there and perhaps the time you need to set your alarm on certain days if you think that will be helpful.
2. Fill in personal items.
After you have filled in all your school items add in your personal items. This includes things like work schedule, appointments, children practices, games, meetings, birthdays, anniversaries, bills due, holidays, etc. Look to see if there are any conflicts so you can solve them early. You will have a heads up if for instance you work nights and need to schedule a night off before an exam. You can also see if you need help with child care on a clinical morning.
3. Fill in study times.
This is a good time to review your reading schedule for the semester and set some times throughout the week instead of trying to read everything in one day. This gives you an idea about your reading requirements for the semester and between exams. You can easily get behind. Also, schedule times to study for exams.
4. Have weekly planning session.
At the end of the week on Friday or the beginning of the week on Sunday take a few minutes to look at your upcoming week and add any new appointments, due dates, changes, etc to your calendar. Study and reading plans may need to be adjusted.
5. Use one major source for planning.
Some people like to use both electronic and paper planning. If you use both make sure that they are both synced. It only caused more problems if you have appointments in one place and exam schedules in another. Having them all in one place cuts down on conflicts.
6. Check your planner regularly.
The main purpose of having a planner is so you don’t have to keep all those appointments and places you have to be in your head. A good habit is to check your planner prior to bedtime. This only takes a few minutes and it can save you stress the next morning especially if you have clinicals that day and your uniform is dirty.
7. Planning is not meant to be stressful.
Once you get everything in your planner you may feel like crying. Don’t stress out! Once it is in the planner you only have to deal with it one bite at a time. With everything written down, you don’t have to worry about missing something or forgetting when things are due. Once you have planned properly take it one week at a time.
8. Schedule some time for yourself.
I know, I know. However, taking a little time here and there will help alleviate stress and burnout. It doesn’t have to be an entire day. An hour here and there to refresh, meditate, do yoga or a nap is a helpful tool during nursing school. Giving yourself a break makes the times you study more efficient. You won’t retain information if you are all bunched up in a knot.
It’s up to you to figure out your planning style. Even if you own a planner you may need to change to a different one to fit your new schedule. There are many paper planers in different sizes and setup. You can get them as small as you want or as large as a notebook. There are also apps you can use besides your phone calendar. Some apps even have reminders. It doesn’t matter which one you use just get started.
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