Get organized

Make to-do lists and weekly and semester schedules

Make to-do lists and weekly and semester schedules

  • Export your semester course schedule from Is-Academia into your electronic agenda (Outlook or equivalent) – Add any regular activities you have like a part-time job, sports, association, etc. Be sure to include the key dates that are listed in the EPFL academic calendar.
  • On Sunday nights, preview your schedule for the coming week and be sure to note all your appointments – You can do this in your daily planner, your electronic agenda, or this weekly calendar.
  • Make a to-do list each evening – Write down the important things you need to do the next day and rank them by priority (you can write your list on paper or use this Excel file as a guide). See if there are any tasks you can delegate. You can also take the list with you the next day and enjoy the satisfaction of crossing things off as they get done!

Find a quiet place to work, and use good study habits

  • Locate a calm, quiet place where you can study – Some students like to work at the library, while others are more comfortable at home. Whatever your preference, find a quiet place where you can focus and won’t be disturbed.
  • Create a “do not disturb” signal – If you live with roommates, you might want to agree on a signal to indicate that you don’t want to be interrupted. You can use a piece of clothing (like a scarf), a figurine on your desk, or a sign on your door.
  • Clean your desk – Clutter can be distracting. Keep your desk clear and your working area well-organized so you can concentrate more easily on the task at hand.
  • Incorporate studying into your daily routine – Make a habit of setting aside a few minutes after your classes to read back through your notes, do the assigned exercises and think about the key concepts and takeaways.
  • Prioritize your to-do list – Learn how to distinguish between what’s important and what can wait, and allocate your time accordingly.
  • Break large assignments down into manageable tasks – And don’t bite off more than you can chew. Before you start studying, set yourself objectives that are SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound). If you can, work on the hardest subjects when your concentration is at its peak. You can also alternate between harder and easier subjects so you don’t get frustrated.
  • Take regular breaks – Breaks are more important than you think. Get up, stretch, change your position, drink a glass of water, or even just stare out the window for 30 seconds. Don’t run your brain too hard, or you’ll hit a wall and your productivity will nosedive.
  • Quit procrastinating – Are you an expert in putting off until tomorrow what you can do today? Try to pinpoint the reasons for this and implement a strategy to address it. You can find more tips under Don’t procrastinate.
  • Adopt good study habits – EPFL offers courses on effective study methods; find out more in our Starter kit.
  • Prepare specifically for exams – Tips for studying for exams can be found under Exams: preparation.