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nursing school

Nursing school is a busy time and proactive organization is a must.

However, if you are anything like me, things can fall by the wayside.

With so much to think about, classes to attend, items to bring, study to complete… it’s enough to make me dizzy just thinking back on it.

I was a lot younger back then, and organization was never a strong point. If only I knew what I know now, things would have been a lot easier.

But that doesn’t mean it’s too late for you, however.

The following tips will hopefully help you stay on top of your studies at nursing school, and ultimately take away a lot of the stress.

So if you’re ready, let’s jump to it…

Use a planner (old school paper based or App)


A daily planner is an essential purchase for any medical student. They’ll be due dates, exams, and of course your standard lab, lecture, and clinical times.

All of these need to be clearly recorded so that you have the information at your fingertips when you need it.

I actually prefer the old-school method of having a little diary planner where I jot down all the necessary details.

As this is something that you will be using a lot, it’s a good idea to splash out and get a planner you enjoy. Etsy has some beautiful little offerings, as will your local bookstore I am sure.

A more modern approach is a phone app. The good thing about these is that you can set reminders and also sync them up to your email, laptop, etc.

If you know your way around such things, apps are great. If you prefer to be able to leaf through your little diary planner instead, that’s what you should opt for.

Set a strict schedule for your study time

study time

Only you know your daily rhythm and when your subsequent free time is.

While it’s tempting to meet a friend for coffee or take a nap during gaps between classes, my advice would be to prioritize time for study instead.

Set out a schedule when you know you will hit the books and stick to it.

Procrastination is the devil and it will creep up on you all the time. Avoid the temptation. Thinking to yourself that you will do it tonight when you get home is a mistake, you’ll nearly always be tired, (unless you have no choice, that is).

Allocate time in your planner for private study time, and do all that you can to stick to these times.

Turn the phone off, hit the workspace, and get it done.

Keep a clean workspace


This brings me to the workspace. You should keep this clean and organized as much as possible.

Not only will it be less daunting to sit down to study if the area is clean, but you’ll also get off to the right start.

Spend a few minutes after each session to organize your papers. Purchase a binder and plastic sleeves to keep relevant items together.

Ensure you have enough storage space for your textbooks, and clear away any coffee mugs and plates, etc.

I see the workspace as a reflection of the inner workings of the brain. A cluttered, disorganized space leads to less than an optimum learning environment.

The information going in (if it goes in at all), will be cluttered and disorganized.

Colored pens and post-it strips are your friends


Nursing school means reams and reams of notes. These have to be organized in a way that makes it easy to refer to them when you need them.

One tip I encourage is to use one color pen for the notes you take in class, and a different one for notes taken during in-home study and your textbooks.

This simply helps to distinguish the context of the information. It also allows you to compare them.

Having the important information written in your notepad also aids revision later on.

The colored post-its are ideal for marking vital sections of the textbook so that you quickly access the information that you need.

Be careful to only mark top-level items however, otherwise, your textbook will be an ungainly mess of flapping post-its that will hinder your study, rather than propel it.

You can’t possibly read every single sentence of the textbook


Medical textbooks are brick-like tomes at best. Some of them are huge and with thousands of pages, it is futile to attempt to read all of it and ultimately recall what you need come exam time.

To avoid burnout, you need to be efficient in your reading approach.

If you have studied a particular topic during lectures that day, refer to the relevant section on your textbook and focus on reading it then.

This keeps your mind free of superfluous information so that you can prioritize the important stuff.

Organize your gear the night before

nursing gear

On days that you need to bring your medical equipment into class, ensure that you have everything ready the night before.

Your bag may contain all sorts of gear. Whether it’s your stethoscope, uniform, and other paraphernalia, having it organized so that morning is not a stressful rush is definitely worth doing

It sets you up for the day so much better. Give yourself time for a shower and breakfast in the knowledge that everything else is taken care of.

Trust me, you’ll thank yourself for it.

Final Words

And there you have it, some simple ways to stay organized while at nursing school. Stick to these simple steps throughout and you will find that a whole lot of other areas will fall into place.

It really starts here. Good luck and enjoy your studies…

About Hannah Drake

Hannah Drake, RN, CSP is a registered nurse and owner and founder of Nurse Focus. Her nursing career spans almost two decades, and in that time she has developed her skill base across a variety of settings, including med surg nursing, clinical informatics system administration and implementation, and healthcare community management. Contact Hannah.

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