How to Stay Organized this School Year: Note Taking

Now that you have your planning method down, let’s figure out some great techniques for staying organized during class.

Taking time to structure your notes can have a big impact later on when that exam, quiz or project pops up. If your notes are clear, concise, and easy to locate, you are already setting yourself up to succeed. Let’s dive into some easy tips for note taking success!

Organization 101

Let’s set the scene:

Your chemistry exam is this Friday and you’re getting a head start by going through your notes and practice questions. You open your notebook only to find…gasp! your chemistry notes are interspersed with world history facts and quotes from your literature class. You know you took more notes than this! You scramble through five other notebooks and try to compile all of your chemistry notes into one place.

Ah, If you had only kept all of your notes for each class…separate.

One of the simplest ways to keeping your notes organized is also keeping them separate. Having a notebook (or binder) for each class saves much time and stress when it comes to reviewing for an exam.

Weather it’s physical notebooks, tabs, or folders on your computer, keep them all in one place and organized by subject.

Tried and True Note Taking Methods

Now that you have your subjects separated and are now ready to start taking notes, the trick is finding a method that sticks. To find the best way that works for your learning style or class topic check out the examples below.

P.S. Don’t forget to write the date!

Cornell Method

How it works: Paper is divided into three sections: cues, notes, summary. The student makes notes during class, then reviews notes after class by writing key words, cues, or phrases in “cues”. A summary of notes is given at the bottom.


  • Provides multiple ways to review
  • Keeps notes neat and organized by page


How It Works: Organized by topic, branching out into subtopics


  • Great for visual learners
  • Helps you make connections between lessons and topics
  • Easy to set up


How It Works: Uses headings and bullet points to organize by main topic, subtopics, and details


  • Good for note taking that requires a lot of detail
  • Great method for typing
  • Easy to edit


How It Works: uses columns to organize information by relation


  • Good for lessons that require a lot of facts
  • Keeps the page neat and organized
  • Easy to review and study

Tips for Taking Speedy Notes

Do you ever feel like your hand can’t keep up with your teacher? Try some of these tricks to help alleviate hand cramp:

  • Use abbreviations, just make sure you can decode them when reviewing later on.
  • Try not to get stuck in the mode of copying an entire slide or writing what the teacher says verbatim. You’ll have a hard time keeping up. Instead, pick out key words or phrases that stand out and use your own language.
  • If you already know a fact, no need to spend time taking notes on it.
  • Take cues from your teacher – if they write something on the board, you bet that it will be important. Notice that they seem particularly passionate on a certain topic? Write it down!

No matter which method you choose, your note taking skills are sure to improve with a little practice and a lot of paper.

How to Stay Organized This School Year: Planning

September is here and another school year is upon us. If you’ve been looking for ways to stay organized and accomplish your goals, look no further!

One of the key elements to staying organized is planning, and we’re happy to tell you that there are so many great options out there to help you plan your life.

Finding Your Method of Planning

All of us have methods of keeping track of our lives from day to day, be it post-it notes on our desks or reminders on our phones. The trick is finding a system that is consistent and easy enough to update.

Bullet Journaling

future log – source:

Bullet journaling is a extremely customizable way of planning that relies on a “future log” and rapid note-taking to help keep track of events, to-do lists, habits, etc. Bullet journals range from minimalist to complete works of art. Find out how to set up your bullet journal here.

Google Calendar


Ah, the wonders of Google! Google Calendar allows you to schedule your days hourly, share your calendar with others, and even create scheduled task lists and reminders. Google also makes it easy to set up repeating events and schedule meetings. There is even a handy app that makes it easy to make quick reminders while you’re away from your computer.

Check out some of these hacks to get the most out of your google calendar.

Pre-made Planner

hourly spread – source: amazon

If you want to go the more traditional route, there are plenty of pre-made planners out there to fit your needs.

If your planning includes lots of weekly to-dos, make sure you have space for notes.

If you’d rather have your day planned down to the hour, there are planners for that as well!

Here is a list of the best planners of 2018.


Wake Up App – source: Brit + Co.

Last but not least – try out an app. Here are 14 apps that will help you stay organized this year.

Now go forth and plan!

Tips for Staying Focused while Studying

When it’s time to study, it seems like everything other than your books becomes incredibly interesting. It takes next to nothing to become distracted, and even things that would never interest you otherwise become highly entertaining.

Studying is essential, and learning how to stay focused while doing so will prepare you for the future. Whether you’re a student with an exam fast approaching, or have just received new information at your job, these tips will help you stay focused while studying so you can achieve outstanding results.

1. Stick to a Schedule

You are more likely to study when you put it into your schedule. Otherwise, you will fill your time with something else, or underestimate the amount of time you have available to study “at a later time”. Life can also become quite chaotic fairly quickly without one. So, set a schedule, whether daily or weekly, to ensure that you stay focused and on top of the material you’re learning. Knowing that you have dedicated time to studying will prepare you mentally, while also decreasing stress. However, you must stick to the schedule you make. Never push studying back simply because something else came up.

2. Don’t Overcommit Yourself

With the grind of today’s society, it seems normal to be overly committed and completely bombarded with things to do. However, when you know you have something to study for, learn to say no.  Whether it’s a night out on the town, a networking meeting or helping a friend, you have to prioritize to ensure that you give yourself plenty of study time, as well as time for some well-needed rest and relaxation.  A hectic schedule will increase your stress levels, which will make it even harder to study and retain information. If a proposed activity can wait, let it.  Say no to all the activities that will complicate your schedule, and yes to the ones that will reduce stress and create more time for you to focus on things of priority.

3. Find the Perfect Study Space

Studying on your bed with your favourite sitcom playing in the background is tempting, but it won’t be nearly as effective as it should be. In order to fully retain the information you’re studying, you must be in the right environment and mindset. Too many distractions will quickly take you away from the learning process. Avoid places that are too busy, such as the local hot spot that is famous for their cup of java, and choose an area that is a little more quaint and quiet. Libraries, lounges and even picnic areas can be an excellent place to study, assuming they aren’t overridden with people and noise. You also want to choose a study area that is well lit and comfortable. A bad setup can significantly affect your work efficiency, so never underestimate the power of finding the perfect study spot.

4. Turn off the Tech

Forget the technology. Although you love your tablet, iPod and smartphone, turn it off, put it down and don’t pick it back up until your schedule declares studying time to be over. All of the notifications, text messages and phone calls are just going to take away from your productivity. Now, you may be tempted to skip over this studying tip, especially if you plan on using your electronic devices to “help” you study. But stick with the traditional paper, pen and highlighter method to ensure that you fully retain all the information you’re studying. Make sure that your perfect study area is a gadget-free zone, and you’ll get the most out of the time you have dedicated to studying.

5. Schedule Time for Distractions

With all that said, studying intensely for long periods of time with absolutely no enjoyment in your life won’t be beneficial either. With no breaks, you are setting yourself up to be a prime candidate for a burn out. Schedule time for distractions, and you will be more focused when it comes time to hit the books. See these study breaks as a reward for your hard work, and let that motivate you to sit back down and study once your break is over. All work and no play can be just as detrimental as all play and no work. So, find a balance that works for you to ensure your happiness and productivity are equally satisfied.

Inappropriate forms of studying are highly tempting. After all, everyone likes to listen to music, watch their favourite television show and surround themselves with good company. However, these are inappropriate forms of studying because they are not effective and with drastically affect your productivity.  Follow these tips for staying focused while studying, and you’ll get the perfect balance of productivity and play.

Top Memorization Techniques Everyone Should Know

Memorization is an essential tool for studying. You can re-read your documents, papers and books as much as possible, but if you don’t memorize the content, your studying efforts won’t be effective. When proper memorization techniques are used, your brain fuses sensory-motor information with symbolic representation. This is how you are able to remember and refer back to content you’ve seen previously. However, memorization isn’t as simple as reading something over and over again. There are specific techniques that will help embed the information into your brain, making your studying highly effective.

1. Link the Content to Something of Importance

One easy memorization technique is to link the content you’re studying to something of importance. These simple associations allow you to easily recall the information retained.  You could link items in a list to names of people in your life. Use the first letter of the word you’re trying to memorize with the first letter of someone in your life, or link the items you’re memorizing to specific and memorable moments or attributes.  The more precise you can be, the better. If you were studying the body parts, here is an example of how to link the content to a group of your closest friends:

  • Trevor – Triceps
  • Bradley – Biceps
  • Darren – Deltoid

2. Create a Story with the Content

This memorization technique is fairly similar to the prior. However, instead of associating each item memorized with something else, you would combine everything to create somewhat of a story. As such, you create a big picture in your brain that allows you to easy recall the content studied. So, instead of linking the first letter of someone’s name to the first letter of the list item studied, you could create a paragraph that uses the full names in order of importance.  Here is an example:

  • Trevor focuses strictly on his triceps when we go to the gym, and Bradley likes to show off his biceps in some mirror-selfies. Darren likes to be a bit more focused on the deltoid muscles.

3. Link Content with Familiar Locations

This memorization technique is called The Loci Method, and it is the process of linking the content you’re studying with locations that are familiar to you. It’s truly as simple as that. However, the more interesting, odd and sensory the association is, the more likely you are to remember them. So, let’s say you’re studying body parts. Here is how you can link the content studied to familiar locations:

  • The heart is your home where mom bakes delicious muffins.
  • Eating too many muffins will take away from my muscles and I have to hit up the gym.
  • The local pub is bad news for my liver.

4. Link Content to Numbers

This memorization technique works especially well when studying lists, as you can easily link each word with a specific number in a particular order. The trick is to find a way to make the numbers trigger the specific item you studied. This could be as simple as making the words rhyme, or associating words with numbers that start with the same letter or that sound similar. Again, the funnier and more interesting, the more likely you are to remember it. Here is an example:

  • Two is for the shoe, where the tibial muscles are located.
  • Three is for the knee, where the popliteus muscle hides.

5. Little Ins and Outs

Now that you know four of the major memorization techniques, you can use the little ins and outs of studying to ensure that you retain the information even further. These simple procedures will imprint the content studied even further into your brain. Here are some of the most successful and traditional tools to study:

  • Flashcards
    • Perfect for quick and easy references and facts, such as the content you linked to something of importance, as well as the number linking technique.
  • Recite out loud
    • Ideal for memorizing poems, songs, and stories you created that relates to the content studied.
  • Teach someone else
    • This technique is a true test that allows you to see what you have memorized, and what areas you need to study more.

As you can see, all of the memorization techniques can play into one another, which will make it easier for you to remember. For example, when we used the linking content to numbers technique, we also made it into a bit of a story.  Incorporate these memorization techniques into your studying, and receive superior results that bring you closer to achieving your goals.