I have 2 weekend, 3 weeks and 3 blue Post-Its until my first exam. Yes- 3 blue Post-Its. See:


My first exam is the first blue blue Post-It in the third row, and there are three blue Post-Its before it. The green Post-Its are the weekends I have to study (far right), and the yellow ones are days where I don’t currently have any event scheduled that will require my mental or physical energy. (I apologize for the blurriness. Walls are surprisingly difficult to photograph!)

Why all the Post-Its? Because I woke up on Saturday morning in a cold sweat, panicked about everything I knew I had to do, but was completely unable to conceptualize how much time I had to do it all. Everything was written down, but I couldn’t turn the words on the paper in my day-timer into anything that made events clear in my mind. It’s my very last exam set of high school (I’m graduating afterwards!) and I’ve been feeling/putting a lot of pressure on myself to go out with a bang. But I wasn’t anticipating the high blood pressure that my personal expectations would bring. So I took 10 deep breaths and tried to figure out how to get organized so I can maximize my productivity in preparation for my exams.

When it comes to my world, I like three things:

  • lists
  • colour
  • Post-It notes
  • and Tina Fey

Okay, so that 4 things, but lets pretend it’s 3. So, I combined all of these things and made a Post-It calendar. Actually, it’s not a full calendar of the month, but I leave on June 26 for a 6 week vacation travelling the other side of the planet, so I didn’t bother with the rest of the days. The day my plane takes off is the last thing I’ve written:



I like this idea because I can see at a glance when everything is, as opposed to flipping through pages. I do have a month-at-a-glace page in my planner, but it had gotten messy with “maybe-happenings” and “not-sures.”  I applied the GTD principle of only putting in concrete events. For each of the days I have an exam, I also wrote the time and place so I won’t forget. It helps to keep this from becoming another ambiguous list of things that may-or-may not occur so you then have to spend more energy sorting it in your mind. Whew, that last sentence was a mouthful!

This calendar is on the wall beside my computer, where I notice it every time I look up. So when I’ve been spending too much time on Facebook, out of the corner of my eye, I notice everything I have to do, and I log off :


This calendar is easy to replicate for yourself, using any colour combination you wish.

And also, since I’m using this to track school work, I put in fun events too, so I don’t forget that life isn’t a 24/7 study session. Like the day of my tattoo appointment:


It’s something to look forward to.

So tell me, what’s your strategy for conquering the mental clutter that exams bring?