Nursing school is easily a 40 hour per week job. For many of us, that is in addition to a paying job and parenting. How to juggle it all?

You may find that your traditional 8am-5pm planner with its little boxes is now worthless. Some days you will be in clinical by 5am and some nights you will have study groups at 10pm. It also doesn’t really help you plan for big projects or meter out studying for an exam that occurs every week or two.

What about the calendar on your phone? Often, digital planners do not offer the connection to your work that you need to keep your mind where it needs to focus. Finding a tool (or combination of tools) to prevent crisis mode is really necessary. Let’s chat about planning!

BuJo, Baby!

Before we go much further, I should explain my current bias is toward Awesome Cal in iOS for actual events and meetings (I LOVE the filofax view and reminders ding) with a bullet journal so that I can task, take notes, and plan in one journal that also begs me to doodle.

Truly, the best part of the bullet journal is that there is no right way to use it. So, if you need to draw 15 motivational task squares to check off as you write each page of that 15 page paper one week, do that. If you only need to plan for the OB test and your friends baby shower the next week, do that.

The flexibility cannot be beaten. Whether you have attention deficit disorder or not, it will only take a couple of months of nursing school to realize that “focus” does not come easily under stress and sleeplessness. (Nursing school is totally worth it, but let’s be real. It is a labor of love.)

If you want to go the bullet journal route, a journal style notebook may be useful or you may prefer a pretty dot grid notebook. Really, a bullet journal can be made in ANY notebook – it is literally whatever you make it. The point is to make memories by using your hand to write, not type.

If you love the feel of pen and paper, but want the additional flexibility of digitized notes, there are TONS of products out there for you to choose from: Moleskine smart writing set or Livescribe Smartpen (which will also record notes in class while you write!!) will do the trick. Notes become saveable, searchable, and editable.

Want to take copious notes but hate “wasting” paper? How about an erasable notebook? Notebooks like Rocketbook can be used over and over.

Planners

Another type of flexible planner comes from Scattered Squirrel. These printable pages are AWESOME and easily fit into whatever 3 ring binder you are already using.  I cannot begin to describe all the ways that you can customize a planner for each month from this awesome and free site. Daily, hourly, weekly, monthly, goals-oriented, task-oriented – whatever floats your boat!

Other planner printables are available at Canva.com. Get planner pages set up by work weekweek schedule, plan out a project, plan the day, and more! This is totally customizable to your needs for each day or week!

A planner such as bloom daily can help you keep on track for all the areas of your life. It has a section for must do, important times, must do sometimes, exercise, to buy today, gratitude, and even a water tracker. If you crave daily organization, reminders to take care of yourself and your actual life, need to limit your list to what you can ACTUALLY get done in a day, and want a pick-up-and-go planner, this might be a good fit.

InkedPerfect makes a planning kit specifically geared toward nursing students. Don’t you love them already for thinking of you? Etsy has other nursing student-oriented planners, as well.

The LifePlanner book is all the rage right now. It is super customizable. If you feel like you just need control of one thing in your life, this might be an awesome choice- choose pink flowers and silver binding, different stickers for different days, have fun! The academic planner version leaves places for deadlines, projects, exams, and all the regular planner spaces, like a monthly calendar.

The PassionPlanner also has an academic version that at least allows you to plan from 6am to 1030 at night; it is even divided into 30 minute time chunks so you can see what time you ACTUALLY have. As a bonus there is a passion roadmap so you can keep your eye on that nursing degree and a space of infinite possibility. Really, it is has a section called space of infinite possibility. How can you NOT love that?

For really, real planning, though

Be organized.

Here’s the thing. Nursing school is tough, but it is tougher if you aren’t organized. So, pick an organization system and use it religiously for a semester before giving up on it. Organization is necessary to your health. Managing your time is a must do. You have to block out study time, time to practice questions, time to go to work, time to pick up bread and milk, and at least a few hours for sleep out of every 24 hours.

The more you write down or log, the fewer tasks and events you have to use your brain to remember.

Study smart and be flexible.

If you blocked out time from 2-4 to study, but find yourself nodding off to sleep, rearrange your day. Go take a nap now and reschedule your study time for later. Internal distractions like sleepiness are the WORST.

Do you have kids yelling about who-knows-what in the background? Deal with them now, reschedule your study time, and plan to study at the library tomorrow instead.

The important thing is that anything that is planned is a must-do, so it always gets rescheduled, never forgotten.

Study on!

Posted by Catherine MSN RN

Catherine is a nursing subject matter expert at Higher Learning Technologies, the developers of awesome Nursing Mastery products. Catherine worked in oncology, pulmonary, progressive care, intensive care, med-surg, step-down, and hospice. Catherine teaches clinical, classroom, and simulation. "Spare time" fillers include craft festivals, camping, and raising 5 boys in TN. #BoyMomma #ICanStudyAnywhere #NursesRock

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