Planning & Organization: Crash Course Study Skills #4
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Planning & Organization: Crash Course Study Skills #4

Hi, I’m Thomas Frank, this is Crash Course
Study Skills, and today you’re going through
planning and organization boot camp. As a student, you have two modes, which I
like to call Planning Mode and Robot Mode. When you buckle down to study for a test, finish a
homework assignment, or slog your way through
a textbook chapter, you’re in Robot Mode. You’re doing the work. But robots can only do what they’re
programmed to do, and they need a
well-maintained environment to work in. I’ve seen videos of those robots in car
factories – they’re not working with dirty laundry
or cheeseburger wrappers laying around. Those places are pretty clean. So, if you want your Robot mode to work efficiently,
you need to know how to program it and how to
create a good environment for it to work in. [Theme Music] To get started, you’re going to need an
organizational system. This is the framework for storing all
information and resources that we’ll need,
and also for capturing “ideas.” An “Idea” is my term for any intangible
information that you need to save and have
easy access to later on. This can include: Tasks, Events, and actual,
you know, ideas – things you want to write,
create – anything like that. Additionally, you’ll need a reliable way to store:
Notes, Handouts, and any other output you create, be
it writing, code, art, or cheeseburger wrapper origami. So let’s get down to business, defeat the
huns, and create that system. In my mind, any good organizational system
worth its salt includes: A task manager
A calendar A note-taking system
And Some kind of physical storage for paper documents Your task manager is the place where you record
the stuff that you need to get done. It’s what you look to when you get that
sudden burst of motivation to do ALL THE THINGS, and then wonder what all the things actually
includes. You’ll find a zillion different types of
task managers out there, but there are only
a few really essential features. Pick a system that makes it easy to record a
task’s details and due date, and also make sure it’s
a snap to see what’s coming due in the near future. The task manager that I personally use these
days is called Todoist, and it ticks all those boxes. But there are lots of other options, including
Trello, Microsoft To-Do, and Any.Do. And if paper systems are more your speed, the classic day planner works just as well, as do more recent systems like the Bullet Journal method. In addition to tasks, you’ll also need to
remember upcoming events, and that’s what
your calendar is for. Now if you’re using an old-fashioned paper
planner, then your task manager and calendar
might be one in the same – but personally, I’ve always found that keeping
the two separate works better for me. A calendar – in my case, Google Calendar, but it might be Apple’s Calendar app or something else for you – is best for events that will happen at a specific time, while a task manager better handles things
that have due dates, but that you can work
on whenever you want before then. Next, you need to figure out how to organize
your notes. This is pretty simple for paper notes; you
just use paper notebooks, and have a separate
section or entire notebook for each class. But, for digital notes, you’ve got a lot
of options. Now, my app of choice has always been Evernote,
but you can also take a look at Microsoft’s OneNote, Apple’s Notes (they’re not always
super imaginative with naming over there
in Cupertino), or even Google Docs. Lastly, make sure you’ve got some kind of
physical storage for handouts, loose papers,
and notebooks you’ve filled up. Keeping one of those portable accordion folders in your bag works well when you’re away from home, and it combos well with a file box for longer-term storage. Now once you’ve cobbled your system
together, the next step is to develop an scheme
for keeping it all organized. Now, sometimes a scheme is a plan for getting a bunch of small, yellow minions and attempting to steal the moon, and I definitely don’t want to discourage you from doing that. But, in this context, it just means a set
of rules and conventions that help to keep
your system organized and useful. If you choose a good scheme and stick to its rules
every time you file away a new task, event, or handout, then the system will remain useful and you won’t find yourself digging through your laundry basket at 3 a.m. looking for that essay you wrote on Hamlet. Let’s go to the Thought Bubble. Your computer’s file structure is a great place
to start, since so many people seem content to
just let everything sit out on their desktop. This is a pretty bad scheme to use, because
you’re eventually going to lose something. Plus, all those files will be covering up
that Hatsune Miku desktop background
that I know you have. So a better long-term solution is to create a
folder structure that’s well-defined, yet flexible. My recommendation is to set up your computer’s
folders like a tree with lots of branches. The top-level folder is the root of the tree,
and that’s where the scheme starts. So, in this case, that folder will be called
“College.” From there, try to create branches that represent
the different aspects of that part of your life. The first logical branch point in this situation is
the year – freshman, sophomore, junior, senior. Then, as we go further and hit even more
specific branch points, choose a logical category
for drilling down to the next level. And this changes depending on the type of
information you’re organizing. Like, here, organizing by class makes sense. We’ve got Sports Psychology, History of
Rome, and Film Studies 101. And finally, add subfolders for big group
projects. If you’re constantly vigilant about saving your work in the correct folder, then this structure will ensure that it’s always easy to find what you’re looking for – you just go down the branches that lead to it. Thanks, Thought Bubble. You can use a similar structure with your
digital notes as well. This is why I like using Evernote so much. Since everything is organized into Notebooks,
and Notebooks themselves can be put into stacks, I
can create a scheme that organizes my entire life. For instance, I’ve got a notebook stack
for classes. Within it, every class I’ve ever taken gets
its own notebook, and within those notebooks I can
create notes for individual lectures, reading
assignments, and other things. With your calendar, color-code events so you
can see which part of your life they represent, like classes, extracurricular activities,
and part-time job hours. If you use a paper planner, you can do this
by using colored stickers or markers, as well. Lastly, create projects within your task manager
for grouping similar tasks together. If you’re a student, the most logical way to do this is
to create a project for each class, as well as additional
projects for anything else you’ve got going on. Now that you’ve chosen your tools and have your system set up, you need to make sure you’ll actually use it, since putting things into your system properly takes work. If your teacher assigns something in class,
you eventually need to open your task manager
and record all the details correctly. That takes more effort than simply tossing
that handout into your backpack or telling
yourself, “Eh, I’m sure I’ll remember it.” But if you don’t do it, your system started
to get unorganized and incomplete – which
means your brain can’t rely on it anymore. So you need to build the habit of using your system
correctly all the time, even though it takes effort. And one of the best ways to do that is to
remove as much friction as you possibly
can from the process. This is an idea that I like to call quick capture –
figuring out the quickest, easiest way to file things
into your system without compromising its structure. There are two main ways to go about practicing
quick capture. The first is to commit to entering things into
the correct place the moment they come up. For instance, if your teacher assigns
homework in class, you’d immediately open your
task manager and record all the details. If you do choose to go this route, you can
streamline things by choosing apps and tools
that simplify the recording process. A good example is Google Calendar’s iPhone app,
which lets you set the date, time, and location of
an event just by typing them into the event’s title. That’s a lot quicker than tapping on each
individual field. It also means eliminating any unnecessary
features from your system; while it might be cool that your to-do
app can add priority levels to each task,
you probably don’t need them, and they just add more friction
to the process. The second option here is to use a daily note,
which is a simple piece of notebook paper, or a note that’s quickly accessible on your
phone, where you record everything that comes
up during the day. This is a temporary holding place. At the end of each day, you need to move everything
you’ve recorded to the correct place within your system. All right, so now we are ready to finally
dig into the details of planning. Now, I like to view planning in two separate
contexts: weekly and daily. The main purpose of your weekly planning session is to look at everything that’s coming due during the upcoming week, as well as in the following one. I recommend doing this on Sunday; that way, you’ll be aware of everything that’s coming up, and you’ll have a rough idea of when you’ll be able to work on it all based on what’s already in your calendar. However, there is also some long-term planning
that should be done here. First, if you’ve got an exam coming up in
the next month, it’s a good idea to look over
everything that will be covered, and then to schedule study sessions over
the upcoming weeks to ensure you don’t find
yourself cramming right before it. If you’ve just been assigned a big project, you
can similarly break that project down into small
chunks and assign due dates to those chunks. Think about other big events that might be
coming up in your life as well. Maybe there’s a scholarship deadline coming
up, or a birthday you want to remember. If something comes to mind, add it to your
system so you won’t forget it. In addition to planning out your week, you
should also take a few minutes each day to
create a daily plan. This is simply a list of the events you’ve
got planned and the tasks you want to accomplish. Now you can do this in the morning before
you start school, or you can do it at night before
you go to bed, which is what I prefer to do. As you create it, try to batch your tasks. If you have a bunch of easy, low-energy tasks, or
errands that require travel, plan ahead and combine
them into one big maintenance session. Doing this will help you get them all done in a short, compact block of time, which in turn frees up lots of uninterrupted time that you can dedicate to your really challenging work. Finally, to keep your system running smoothly,
choose one day per week to do a review session. And if you want to be extra-efficient, you
can just combine it with your weekly planning
in order to get it all done in one fell swoop. During this review session, you’ll do a
couple things. First, look over your plans and reflect on
the past week. Compare what you planned to do with what
actually got done, and if there’s a gap between
the two, try to figure out what caused it. Doing this can help you to pinpoint things that are hurting your productivity – maybe you were distracted a lot, or maybe you simply planned to do too much. After that, go through your task manager and
calendar. If there are any tasks or events that need
changes, make them. This prevents what I like to call “entropy” which is a term in thermodynamics that generally refers to how everything in the universe tends to move toward disorder and chaos. This is exactly what organizational systems tend to do as well, but by regularly bringing them back to order on a weekly basis, you can keep things from getting too chaotic. So now that you’ve got your system build and your planning habits in place, you’re well equipped to tackle all the work your classes are going to throw at you in the most effective way possible. Additionally, you can rest assured knowing that
nothing will slip your mind or fall through the cracks,
as long as you keep those habits up. That’s all for now, so thanks for watching,
and I’ll see you next time. Crash Course Study Skills is filmed in the
Dr. Cheryl C. Kinney Crash Course Studio in
Missoula, MT, and it’s made with the help
of all of these nice people. If you’d like to keep Crash Course free for
everyone, forever, you can support the series over
at Patreon, a crowdfunding platform that
allows you to support the content you love. Thanks for your support.

About James Carlton

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100 thoughts on “Planning & Organization: Crash Course Study Skills #4

  1. How do you think : Did Study Skills lessons should be at schools? (I think that it is probably the most important lessons c:)

  2. This is the one I need to watch! My studies are such a mess right now… I keep trying to do a thousand times at once and it never works. I end up stressed, angry, and I accomplish next to nothing =~~

  3. I once procrastinated so badly that I coded a program that I can enter all of my tasks into, and it will give me a personalised schedule for the next 6 days which tells me how many minutes I should spend each day on certain categories of tasks…
    I call if productive procrastination.

  4. Whoa. Just realized I'd NEVER been properly taught HOW TO PLAN. I feel dumb for all the stress my past planning method put on me….

  5. 7:57 If I am combining my Weekly planning session with the Review session, which of the two should I do first? A crucial part of the Review session is to Reflect and make Changes to the existing events and tasks. So would the Weekly planning happen first followed by Reflection and then Changes to the items?

  6. Okay but I'd like to remind you guys: DONT TRY TO DO EVERYTHING AT ONCE Start with just the planner, or just the organization branches. If you try to do everything at once, you're more likely to give up on it and stop doing all of it. However, adding things bit by bit until you're all organized means that if something doesn't work out, then you'll still have the other things to keep you semi-organized. However, if you like to just dive into things without looking before you leap (and often have success in doing that) then go for it! What's one YouTube comment going to do to stop you?

  7. What is a good calendar app for Windows Phone? (Win 10)
    I was looking for something similar to google calendar, but could not find anything good, any suggestions?
    You'll help me a lot!

  8. Well this video will be needing an edit soon, machine learning doesn't kid around, robots are learning faster than we are pretty soon.

  9. Personally, I use google docs and then a physical planner. Google docs makes it wayyyy easier to introduce the file tree system and then their always saved in one place you can access anywhere. Then I use a Happy Planner because all the designs make me overjoyed and excited and it's the only way to make me interesting in organizing… Plus stickers. The planner has a calendar where I put when things are due, and following there are daily blank columns where I put what I'm going to work on that day. I sound like an advertisement but maybe this will help someone, because it did wonders for me!

  10. Great videos! how about "Work skills" I know that some of these skills can be used in the job – work environment, yet I'd like to hear your thoughts and why not recommendations on job – work skills, thank you!

  11. Is the Evernote basic free? does it stay free until you opt to upgrade or does it automatically upgrade when you reach 1 month or exceed 60MB of data?

  12. In a perfect world that sounds great but what happens when unexpected things come and ruin what has been planned? I have a hard time playing things since everyone around me are such bad planners that it gets left at the last second and affects me. How can I overcome this?

  13. Truth must be told, organized life is boring! I can only keep certain period of time being organized! Messy is my name!

  14. I love the fact that crash course put up a set of these study skill videos… But i must say: as much as i love watching this handsome man talk, he is quite monotone and boring 🙁 i wish he could keep my attention more

  15. The Stupidest tip I've ever heard has actually been the most helpful, Brush your teeth just before studying. YEP Seriously, I've always found that feeling refreshed before putting in some study hours has always gave me an edge! so brush your teeth and wash your face… It Won't hurt to try 🙂 God i sound like my mum when i was 10…

  16. Hatsune Miku desktop background? PLEASE~

    My desktop background is a screenshot of Sonic Forces where Sonic's model is from 20 years ago, but everyone else's is normal.

  17. You are making a video that is very helpful to students like me!!! Love your videos!! Hope you will make more!!!!

  18. this explained why i live my life so disastrous. thank you for sharing, I need to try your suggestion now 😀

  19. came to this video thinking “oh yay! more organizational skills” and watching it realize i do most all of these things. they’re all great techniques and i recommend them for anyone watching to actually give them a try. i’m just an organized freak!

  20. Sorry, i kinda dislike this video. There's a clear lack of empirical evidence that these kinds of planning methods work or make you learn better.

  21. 8:30 No that's not what Entropy means. Entropy is just the reason stirring is the best way to mix something. That's it. Not complicated at all.

  22. Personally, I do not recommend checking out what you have to do the next day at night. For some, that can cause anxiety that prevents a good night's rest. Maybe do it during the evening or when you first wake up for some motivation to get moving?

  23. Hey Thomas, your videos are very informative, I have one question though- what should we do if we not able to finish a particular task in assign time,? This lead to failing of my planned routine, I have heard you talk about " Fudge Ratio" , I am still not able to finish things on time.

  24. i have adhd and this is probably the most helpful set of videos i've seen so far- it tells me exactly what i need to do while not being too rigid so i'm reluctant to do it. thank you for making these videos and i will DEFINITELY be using these techniques as a sophomore.

  25. My college success coach recommended this playlist and its amazing because no other school assignment I have ever been given has acknowledged the existence of Hatsune Miku

  26. Good video! By the way if any of you guys are looking for more study tips, you can find them in written format (rather than video format) on the pages of many universities. Here in Australia, UTAS website is useful

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