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Friends and family

Getting organised

It’s easy to underestimate the importance of getting organised. OU students asked to give tips for successful study nearly always say that good planning and organisation are vital.

To get organised, students and their families need to think about:

  • when to study
  • where to study
  • how to share joint resources and responsibilities.

Finding enough time to study is difficult for many students, but planning ahead and following a schedule makes it possible. It may take a while to get the right balance between work, family time and study. There will be peaks and troughs in study time – some weeks will be busier than others.

Module materials, administrative paperwork, assignments, DVDs, notes, study guides, calendars … there’s a lot of stuff to keep organised. Many students like to have somewhere to keep everything together, perhaps in boxes or on a shelf.

All OU students need to use a computer for writing assignments and keeping in touch, and there are lots of resources on OU websites they’ll want to use too. You may need to negotiate times for computer use, or for using a quiet room.

In the following videos OU students talk about their study spaces and how they manage and organise them.

Study spaces a managing studies


Mel (Student): My study space is a bit chaotic I must admit because I do quite a bit of study sitting on my double bed, ‘cos I like to have my books spread around me.

“Qu’est ce qu’il ne fait pas…”

My books, I keep them in duffle bags, rucksacks, carrier bags and then basically in my bedroom and I just pick up the relevant bag for the relevant module or the textbooks I want for that particular minute and transplant them round the house or wherever I’m going with me.

But when I need to use the computer, I’ve also got a lot of craft materials in the room so I have to pick up the craft materials, lump them somewhere else while I’m studying and then when I want to do my craft stuff, lump it back onto the computer table. So it’s a bit multi-purpose.

Managing OU study and the rest of your life can be a bit tricky at times but I’m really lucky ‘cos my husband is also an OU student so we both know exactly what we’re going through and we’ve got a small son as well so one of us can take our little boy out and give the other one study space. It can be a bit difficult at times but you do manage.

Jed (Student): I don’t have a study space as such. I’m very ad hoc. My books are currently on a shelf in the conservatory and I’ll just go and get them as required, as needed. It’s the dining room table if I need to spread stuff out.

In nice weather like we have at the moment it’s the conservatory or out in the back garden. So there’s no set space. All my other module materials - I’m lucky to have a large office at work - but part of the MBA thing anyway is I use them all as references on a daily basis.

Organising study spaces


Robin (Student): We’ve got an office in the house so I’ll tend to kind of lock myself away earplugs in and you know, get down and do what I need to do, normally first thing in the morning.

Fran (Student): When I started DD100 we’d just moved house and we decorated one of the rooms. It was the study. And that was my space. You know - specially ordered desk. And then I came to using it, and I didn’t enjoy using it. I felt like I was being sent to my room to do my homework. And, I did, you know, I used to loathe going to study there and I found actually what was better and what I’ve done this year is I use the dining room table. We have a lounge diner and I don’t mind if other people are in the room talking, that’s fine. I feel like I haven’t been sent away that I’m still part of what’s going on in the house and I just spread all my stuff out across the table and we’ve got the cupboard in one corner so then at the end of the evening I can put it back in a box and put it away… Or occasionally it gets left out.

Cynthi(Student): It’s actually a mess. ‘Cos I’m not a very organised person. Or I don’t think I am. Others probably do. I’m one of these people who… things are a mess, but I know exactly where they are.

So I mustn’t have anything moved. But then after the TMA I clear it out, file it, put it away. Clear the workspace.

Last updated 1 year ago