With winter break just around the corner, it is a great time to reflect on the past semester and start planning for the next semester. To prepare, I like to use what I call the MOSH technique. MOSH stands for mindset, organization, scheduling, and habits. In this article, I will take you through the MOSH method and give you tips for planning.
First, we have the mindset. This is the section where you reflect on your previous semester and get mentally prepared to take on another semester. I prefer to do this through journaling. I highly recommend journaling because it can distress and give you an opportunity to express emotions especially ones you may be suppressing. I suggest setting a timer for your journaling sections. I normally do a minimum of five minutes per question. I also have an addiction to buying expensive journals, so journaling gives me an excuse to continue. Here are some reflection questions to get you started on solidifying a healthy and prepared mindset for the next semester:
- What happened this past semester? What went well? What could have been improved?
- If you could snap your fingers and become your ideal version of a student, what would you be like (habits, schedule, temperament, results, etc.)? What is standing in your way of achieving this version of yourself? How can you overcome these obstacles?
- Why are you pursuing your degree? What motivates you to keep going?
Proper organization can make a semester so much easier. It’s important to set up your organizational systems before a semester starts and even more important to make sure that the system works for you. There are two components when it comes to organization: physical and digital. For physical organization, you should clean and organize your office space, backpack, and storage system. For digital organization, I like to use Notion for organizing my life, business, and school goals, OneDrive for storing my digital documents, and OneNote for note-taking and homework assignments. Here are a few things to consider when organizing for the next semester:
- Decide how you will take notes, do homework, study, read textbooks or articles, whether you use loose paper, notebook, tablet, or laptop, and decide where you will store the necessary documents.
- Will you use a planner (physical or digital)? How often will you plan (daily, weekly, monthly? Set up or order your planner before the semester starts.
- Organize your physical and digital space. Go through your office, backpack, and storage system to clean and organize. Then sift your computer to digitally organize remove unnecessary files and reduce unnecessary clutter.
Students’ lives are extremely busy so it’s important to dedicate time to set up a consistent schedule before the semester starts. You want to take your time to be thorough and include what you should be doing and what you must do, but it’s important to remember that you are not a superhero and that energy is finite so make your schedule realistic for your everyday life. I like to use Google Calendar to schedule my days. It is easy to use and compatible with all devices. You can also make reoccurring events, so it’s easy to plan out your whole semester. There are a few things that you want to include in your schedule for the next semester:
- You want to add your class schedule along with office hours and any other meetings like lab meetings and seminars.
- Add homework and study times into your schedule. This can encourage you to be consistent with your homework and study throughout the semester because sometimes it is hard to keep up with the amount of work that goes into classes.
- Add personal time for your sanity at least one day a week off where you do fun things. It is also important to schedule self-care activities, exercises, meals, and time to check in or make plans with friends and family.
The backbone of a successful semester is good habits that support your success. If you are a person who has trouble with consistently enjoying your good habits and stopping bad habits, I recommend Atomic Habits, a book by James Clear. He details his method for building habits that will help you reach your goals by focusing on your mindset and systems. There is a video that describes Clear’s method in eight minutes if you don’t have the time to read the book. The following are a couple steps to building successful habits:
- Reading list of all your current habits. You might have to track these for a few days. Identify good and bad habits. Identify habits you want to start or stop.
- Create a system where your good habits will thrive and bad habits will starve. Clear mentions the following for developing a system: start small, stack habits, create starting rituals, sync habits with a reward, and score your habits.
A new semester can bring about a certain, uncertainty, and stress. I often feel like getting through a semester is like getting out of the middle of a mosh pit during a heavy metal concert. Starting a new semester by using the MOSH technique can quell some of those anxieties for the new semester and make your time in school more tolerable. You will be prepared and ready to take on a new semester.
How do you normally prepare for the next semester? Can you see yourself using the MOSH technique?