FREE Note Organizer Template and Etsy Shop

It’s been too long since I’ve posted anything, and the reason for that is thousands of pages of homework, reading and life happenings. As a treat, I present to you all more planner templates and some Etsy news!

Sometime in December my genius boyfriend and I came up with some simple templates for DIY organizer type things. They’re not exactly planners, but can definitely be used for mapping out day-to-day activities, checklists and even some class specific things (see below). I’ve posted the weekly homework planning sheet in monochrome colors here.

NEW: Note Template for Language Class

Download it for FREE here: Language Planner Monochromo – PDF

Language planner

My little sister (Grade 7) and I both tested it for a few days and decided that the best use of this sheet would be either as a Study Guide template for tests or perhaps as a place to organize all notes at the end of the class. I am still a strong supporter of taking lots of messy notes in class, but at the end of the day when you review everything, this sheet could be a good place to organize everything you wrote down earlier. Put in a binder and you’ll have a nice collection for review! If you are looking for some more fun/colorful versions, it’s all in the Etsy Shop!

P.S. Use the coupon code STUDYFUN  before Friday, February 26th to receive 50% discount on these organizer friends!

P.P.S. We also have some updates on the sidebar – please welcome Karl from Studying Smart! Karl has a study blog as well, and it’s very impressive how much he has developed it in the last few weeks. Follow him and share the love!

Android Apps for Notes


This year I’ve found that taking notes digitally, that is using a stylus and an iPad, is quite helpful. So I’ve created a list of some Android apps that have similar functions as Goodnotes, Notability, etc. (this list is coming up next!)

Before the list, though, I just want to say a few words about using apps to take notes. Like to any method, there are advantages and disadvantages. For example, I constantly get distracted at my iPad. A message blinks, the lecture gets boring, or if I’m waiting for an important email- it’s too easy to switch screens…so there goes my quality listening time. On the other hand, the iPad has really saved my butt (or should I say my back?) this quarter, as my backpack would have probably weighted 15 tons if I had journals in there in addition to the textbooks.Roblox Free Unlimited Robux and Tix

1. Quill

This app is one of the better ones I’ve found, and it’s only $1.00 on Google Play. Looks like there is a variety of options for pens/pencils/colors/fonts, etc, there’s an option to connect a special digitizer pen and some options for PDF annotation.

2. Equil Note

Also looks like a great app, with very nice reviews! Free and supports the Equil Smartpen (this means you can write notes with a ballpoint pen on paper and it automatically transfers those notes into the app. Converts handwriting into editable text and recognizes 11 (!!) languages. By far, my favorite on the list.

3. Handrite Note Notepad Lite/Pro

A simpler version of the first two apps, Handrite Note Notepad allows you to simply write stuff down and see it appear on the main page. The images on google play show it being used on a phone, so hopefully it’s more spacious on the actual tablet.

4. Evernote

Definitely the best app for typing notes. Notes can be synchronized on any device (apple, windows, android) and are reachable from anywhere. I use this app mostly to take screenshots of stuff I like on the internet and then finding them in my phone when I’m at a craft store (thinking, “What should I buy today….?”)

5.  Notepad +

Looks like a great app and the closest one to resemble Goodnotes! Allows you to annotate PDF’s, take handwritten notes and even draw some fun pictures! This is the app I’d buy ($2.99, by the way).

6. INKredible- Handwriting Note

A very simplistic, neat app with a zoom in and palm rejection features, different pen options and a very comfortable interface. Love it!

7. OneNote

A Windows classic and the master of organized notes. Type, draw, hand write your notes and find them on any device. If you don’t  like any of the previous apps, go for this one and you won’t regret it!


I’d love to hear what apps you use to take notes! Comment below and help out your fellow students!

How to Take Notes from a Textbook

Textbook readings

Hey guys! I’ve received so many questions about reading textbooks and taking notes on that, so I am going to share with you how I do it.

I like to write on the margins. Not highlight. I don’t use a special color coding technique to separate my comments from key terms from titles from definitions.

My system is very simple and makes sense to me. All I use are:

  • A pencil
  • An eraser
  • Small (not tiny) sticky notes

To start, I think it’s important to read actively. This means to think through the material, note things you don’t understand, complete little practice problems at the end of each section and connect new concepts with each other and the old ones.

The margins of my textbook are pretty thick – so thick I can fit a small 2 x 1.5 inch sticky note.

  • On the sticky note, I write definitions and very important concepts that go with the definition. This means that I have anywhere from 2 to 6 sticky notes per page.
  • I underline important explanations and quotes in pencil. Whatever I think is super important, I underline. I choose not to highlight in order to avoid stupid highlight-every-word-what-if-I-need-to-see-it-later kind of thing.
  • I write small comments in pencil on the margins, near the sticky notes. Usually these are longer explanations of the sticky notes, a little map of the concepts (how what I’ve just read connects to each other), and, most importantly, my own connects that I make while reading. This seems to help a lot, because if I look at this text in a few weeks, I’ll be able to remember my train of thought at the moment of reading.


That’s it.

It sounds like a lot, but come test time, I will only use the margins and skim the text part of the book for any underlined parts.

I’ll let you guys know how that goes for me this quarter: I’m taking two Psych classes (4 chapters a week, 30 pages each…..) and a Math class.

Small Things That Affect Your Concentration


Humans can’t pay full attention to two things at once: it’s a fact! (Source 1, 2, 3). While we think we can do two things at the same time, like doing homework and watching a TV show- we’re actually doing neither.

Thus, when there are distractions around us, we cannot fully focus on our work no matter how hard we try. Small things that we usually don’t think about affect our concentration, but are easy to control:

1. Cell Phone
-put it on silent, out of reach and check only once an hour. It can totally wait and whoever texted you can wait a few minutes.

2. Mess
-It sets the mood. The messier your room, the less organized YOU are! Clean and organize your desk, make your bed, and make a schedule everyday.

3. People
-I’ve found that if I study at home, everyone always bothers and distracts me because they know I’m home and can answer a question, clean something, drive, etc. To avoid the same fate, go to the library! Bring a snack, some tea or coffee and focus!

4. Too many pens
-For those of us who like to color code….let’s use up to 3 colors. The more pens and pencils, staplers and little stickers we have around us, the more distracting they are. Three colors are sufficient enough to mark 1) important terms, 2) explanations, 3)titles (that’s an example, you can do it differently). When there are purple, orange, blue, green, red, yellow, etc. colors, the point of highlighting gets lost- your notebook becomes a rainbow.


How to Remember Your Lecture

  1. Listen actively- think about what you’re hearing, connect new and old information and write things down in your own words
  2. Pay attention and ask questions: it helps if you understand what’s going on.
  3. Review your notes after class (in the evening)
  4. Study a little every weekend– it’s better than studying for 12 hours in 1 day.

Paper vs. iPad


Hey everyone!

I received many, many questions recently regarding taking notes on paper versus on a tablet. I will be talking about an iPad in this case, because it’s the one I’m most familiar with.

Taking notes on paper:

+ You’re able to write things down yourself, which should help remember things better
+ You can organize your notebook any way you like and use any note-taking technique you want
+ Journals aren’t very expensive!
– Too many notebooks add up to a heavy backpack.
– To annotate any other files, readings or powerpoints, you”’ have to print those out before class
– “Should I keep my 7th grade science journal in case I need it in the future??” Um, the most important question you’ll ask yourself during spring cleaning.


Taking notes on an iPad:

+ You can hand write (with a stylus) or type (attachable keyboard) your notes
+ There are many, many apps to take notes as well as keep you organized and stay on task.
+ All your work can be backed up on a cloud. Also, no more “should I keep this journal?”
+ All you’ll need is an iPad and a stylus/keyboard. No more heavy bags!
+ Expensive. $270- $500…

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How I plan to Study

My freshman year of college didn’t go too well for several reasons.

One, I had no idea what I was getting into: how the classes go, how to prepare for them, how to set a schedule, etc.

Two, I didn’t know how to study. I tried so many different things, different techniques, took notes in various ways, made flashcards.

But it turned out that jumping around like that only made it worse. Without having a steady, set way to prepare for each class, I couldn’t remember the information very well and ended up not doing too hot on the tests.

So now I want to actually set some goals for myself. Maybe these will be helpful to you guys too!

1) In class:

  • Always take notes, using 1 method: Cornell, Mapping, or Outline (on paper or on an iPad)
  • Listen actively, connect new information to something I’ve already heard or know
  • No mindless writing: take notes in my own words. This keeps your mind working during the lecture.

2) At home:

  • ALWAYS read textbook material before class. That way I’m already familiar to what’s being said in the lecture and could get some clarifications on what I didn’t understand.
  • Follow a study/reading schedule
  • Work when I’m most awake. Usually during the day and go to sleep early (here’s why)

I’ll be in Russia visiting family until September, but I’ll check for messages often!

Textbook Read Tips

I got some questions recently on reading a book/textbook and taking notes. Here is the part about textbook reading, I’ll come up with novel-type book reading soon!

The three main things you can do while reading a textbook are:

1) Stop highlighting and start writing things down- on margins or in a notebook. Because you’re thinking while writing, it will help you remember the information more.
2)Take concise notes, don’t include details. Key concepts and short descriptions only, no ramblings.
3) Look at the big picture. Summarize the chapters you’ve read, organize all information on paper. In the end you will know the key ideas and will just need to sort out the smaller details.

Happy reading!