Everything I say in this entry should be taken with a huge heap of salt. I’m not responsible for what happens to you if you follow my advice, especially if what happens is terrible, but counter-intuitive things work well for me. Perhaps they (will) work for you too.
My guiding principle is KISS: doing less instead of more in the name of efficiency.
- Do not write anything down in a calendar/schedule/planner… I’m very busy; my schedule changes daily and varies significantly from week to week. If I wrote things down, I’d be checking my calendar several times a day for fear of forgetting something and I’d be editing it constantly. I just don’t bother with any of it and simply remember when I have meetings, classes, exams, conferences, &c. I’ve yet to forget a single thing (even when I was teaching 11? different classes and working 7 days a week). So do not write things down. Not writing saves time. (Why does this sound like such awful advice?)
- Take notes for all classes in one notebook (or on a computer). Too many notebooks = too much stuff to carry around. If you have gigantic handwriting this might be a problem, but my handwriting verges on microscopic. My current notebook is a pink Leuchtturm1917 jottbook. It’s small, light, flexible, and durable. ♥
- Do not take notes on readings. Only highlight. If writing a paper, it’s okay to write down quotes and paper numbers, but aside from snarky comments in the margins, that’s all that should be tolerated. In preparation for exams, do not make timelines, charts, or any other such nonsense—stick to learning the material and do not get involved in producing art projects of this sort. If feeling particularly obsessive, a list of terms can be stomached—maybe—but nothing else.
- Buy ebooks. Kindle > 500+ page monograph. Ebooks are searchable. I hate carrying heavy things.
- Do not take any foreign language classes. Just self-study and test out of them. It’s 2013. Foreign language courses are very 20th century. This may seem radical as it requires a certain amount of discipline, but it’s for the best. Use the Internet. Get books from Amazon or wherever. Don’t waste time in these classes. If foreign languages are a requirement for you, this will free up space to take other things. (Note: a one-on-one course does not fall under this ban!) I already did this for one language and I’m going to try to do it for another (just for fun).
- Do not color code any notes. It’s okay to mark key-terms, but elaborate color-coding schemes are intolerable. Optional: Don’t write in black or red, just because… Use other colors. I suggest pink, purple, grey, robin’s egg blue, navy blue and pens of .38mm or .3mm. Avoid .7mm at all costs and .5mm when possible.
Given such habits you may think that I’m failing out of school and forgetting my appointments left and right, but I’m not. Also, I realize that everyone has different study habits. I’m curious to know what yours are. And! please stick to what actually works for you.