September is once again upon us and 2020 has been, needless to say, a stressful year. Students have had to deal with the transition into studying from home in the midst of a global pandemic and many will be starting degrees in uncertain terms. Staying on top of your academic work might just be the last thing on your mind right now.

When I started my degree I had a lot of anxiety over possibly forgetting the deadlines for any assignments. I did an English degree, so there was a LOT of reading every week, and constantly checking the module handbooks for deadlines just did not seem like a good use of my time.

I am a lover of spreadsheets, so I decided to put together a simple academic work diary. That way, I only needed to go through the handbooks once, copy all the information I needed into it, and put it at the start of my binder.

My goal for this diary was to keep it as simple as possible. I split it into weeks and type of work within each module. For modules where, for example, most of the work was within one book, I went through it and put coloured tabs on the chapters for each week instead of naming every chapter in the diary and take up unnecessary space. All of this can be done before your classes start (since most universities will give you access to lesson plans/module handbooks in advance), when you still have the free time to spend on this planning and are not overwhelmed with work yet.

Academic diary example

Academic diary to stay on top of academic work.

(click image to see bigger)

As you can see in this example from one of my own diaries, I was juggling quite a few things. Movie screenings, readings, essays… Once I finished each task, I got my trusted red pen and scratched it off, giving me a sense of accomplishment and making keeping track of everything even easier. This academic diary was so useful that I did it at the start of every term, and am now sharing it with you!

How to use

Different degrees will obviously vary (from length of terms to number of modules), so I am including the template I used for mine, which you can then easily adapt to your own needs by adding columns/lines.

Don’t know from the get-go what you will have to do? Just fill in the names of your modules, the weeks you need, and print out a blank template. Then you can write in your assignments as you get them.

The way I used it was by including the assignments/tasks in the week they were due. So, week 5 for module 2 had to be done before the lecture that week, for example. I preferred it that way so I could plan ahead and do things early, but if you would rather operate differently fill the diary with that in mind.

Just remember that if you have a long task to do (like reading a full novel or writing an essay) you will have to start it early. So don’t just look at the tasks for the following week, but keep an overview of the whole term.

Ready to stay on top of your academic work? Just click the below image and download my academic work diary template. I have included my email in the footer, so feel free to get in touch with any feedback or questions!

Sofia Matias is a professional writer, editor and proofreader. She specialises in working with independent authors of Young Adult and genre fiction, publishers and publications. She is an Intermediate Member of the Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading (CIEP). Learn more about her and her services on her website and connect via Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook or Instagram.


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