For university students, planners and schedules are everything. They keep us on track and let us know what we need to be doing in order to complete assignments or papers. In one study, researchers discovered that undergraduate students that completed a workshop on time management skills made better marks, reported lower levels of stress and felt they had more control over their time (Häfner, Stock & Oberst, 2014, p. 89). But one aspect of academic work that seems immune to scheduling is readings. With all of this in mind, I’ve compiled some examples of different ways to organize your readings this semester.
Here at the Centre for Student Success, we offer a handout that works as a checklist and a schedule for keeping track of readings. While this is a great resource, for some students the layout of this reading schedule can be overwhelming, difficult to read, or is just not a good fit.
Sticky Note Tabs
This is the method that I personally use to keep track of my own readings. Using mini sticky notes, I write which chapters/pages need to be read, and the date of the classes they need to be done for on each tab. That way, when I open my book to read, I know exactly how much needs to be done and when it needs to be completed by. I also use sticky flags that are colour coded to mark any chapters/topics that may be important for assignments or exams. I’ve also found this method to be helpful when it comes to studying for exams, because I can see exactly what readings go with my notes from lectures. Below is an example of sticky notes in my BF190 course pack this semester.
This is a really comprehensive way to keep track of readings while sticking to a checklist format. It is great for organization because you can create a different sheet for each class while keeping them all in the same document. This method is also completely customizable for each class that you have because you create your own layout. For example, if you have more than one textbook for a class, you can put in two “reading” columns. Below you can see a mock schedule that can help with visualizing how to make an Excel reading schedule for yourself.
Plotting Readings in a Planner
Having a planner can be useful for managing not only your personal life, but also your school life. If you have a student planner like the ones in the bookstore, it might already have a column for assignments and readings. If you have a regular planner though, you can create sections in the week pages specifically for readings, and colour code them so it is clear which class each one is for. This is a good way to see everything that needs to be done for the week.
In my example below, I put in when I work that week, some assignments and tests that are due, and created a separate section for my readings for the week. I can see what needs to be done for my classes that week, as well as when I will have free time to read before the class.
There are a ton of different ways to fit reading into your everyday study schedule. There are other options available through a simple Google search as well, if you would like some more options. Don’t forget to use active reading strategies, like noting for gist, to get the most out of your textbooks. You can also use Bloom’s Taxonomy to ensure that you have the best understanding of your course materials, which can also help with getting better marks on exams.
Häfner, A., Stock, A., & Oberst, V. (2014). Decreasing students’ stress through time management training: An intervention study. European Journal of Psychology of Education, 30 (1), 81-94. doi: 10.1007/s10212-014-0229-2.