I’ve always been an extensive planner. I’m that person with the gorgeous, colour-coded revision timetable that doesn’t even remotely get followed and only has the purpose of making it look like I know what I’m doing. I just find it so therapeutic, the process of thinking through and categorising and preparing. Never mind the fact that I find the legwork required problematic.
Still, however, planning has its benefits. Before the start of third year, I set about to prepare for the undoubtedly tempestuous year I’d have, and I wanted to do it all in Notion because I had rediscovered my love for Notion in all the free time I had during the impossibly long summer of 2020.
Here’s a walkthrough of the setup I created.
The Information section is where I’ve summarised a lot of information from the programme handbook and other university pages for my referencing pleasure. This was a good section to come back to key things without having to trawl through a lot of irrelevant information that I didn’t need to know.
Let’s talk about some key features of this section.
UPSAs are essentially just skills that we need to complete throughout the year in order to proceed to the next year. Often, we’ll do these skills a few times and gain some confidence in them before getting them signed off, but that’s not always the case, especially with more basic skills. I had a master list of skills on this page that I could go back and highlight in green whenever I’d completed an UPSA, so I could easily see what I had left to do.
This next screenshot is from my Intercalation section because this was when I was considering intercalating after third year. I made an extensive table of courses I thought looked interesting and included things like a summary of what the course was like, some pros/cons and a section where I could put information about changes to the course during the pandemic. It looks a little sparse from the screenshot but the courses I had ranked higher in my head had more information filled in.
Another component that we need to complete in order to progress to the next year is our portfolio. For this, we have a set list of things we need to work on, all based around personal and professional development. This is depicted quite clearly with a table in which I have the appropriate tags (we need to tag all our entries accordingly in our portfolios), extra information like links, and checkboxes to show whether it’s done or not.
TCD (Themed Case Discussion) is the way we covered content throughout third year. We learn about a concept during the week using online materials provided by the university, and then we have a session at the end of the week where we apply our learning to new cases. As we had new stuff to cover every week, it was useful to have a tracker to see where I was up to. I have different checkboxes to indicate how far along the content had gone through my learning process. This includes whether I had made Anki flashcards for the case, whether I had access to a revision lecture for it, and whether I’d revised the content for the final OSCE.
Moving on to the content I looked at day-to-day, we have my pages for each of the blocks I did throughout the year. I’ve included an example of one of the weekly setups I had in each of the pages, with a section for my priorities and personal goals, as well as the things we had to get done every week. This helped me keep track of what I had left to do for the week and if I didn’t complete something during the week, I could easily transfer it across into the next week’s priorities. Generally, these were the only pages I kept very up to date during placement.
This page was haphazardly put together when I realised I had so much to cover in such little time. Note the little guy flipping the table over in the title – you can see I was stressed. I had this in the calendar format so I could see which topics I aimed to cover leading up to our exam in May. My routine for these days was pretty much just going through Passmed questions on each topic, day by day, because I was regularly doing my Anki flashcards at the time, so I didn’t need to specifically go over content. When there were things in a topic that I was unsure about, I could dedicate time to them during these days.
We’ll move on now to a subset of pages I made in preparation for and during the APEP. The APEP at our university is essentially a research project we do every year, but its requirements and criteria change every year, so it progressively gets more and more advanced. This year, it was a 5-10,000-word project for which we were given 8 weeks off from placement. Mine was a literature review alongside some novel data analysis.
Links and documents
Much like my ‘Information’ section on my main Year 3 page, I had some pages for this project dedicated to useful things that I’d need to know throughout the research period. This included things like formatting rules, aims/objectives, and the mark scheme for each section of the report.
I kept a log of minutes from each meeting I had with my supervisor to keep track of what we’d talked about. I had set these pages up as a template with the yellow box automatically added to each page and this contained some of the standard questions the university had suggested we talk about during the meetings. This gave me a good crutch to base all my pre-meeting preparation off and reminded me of the things I needed to discuss.
I made use of Notion’s timeline feature (because let’s face it, I just wanted to use every fun, new thing possible) to have a guide for my research project timings. The university had provided most of these deadlines and timings but having them right in front of me was very useful throughout the process.
After all my research, and in the penultimate week before submission, I sat down to essentially write the whole report. I spent four days straight typing away at my computer, and I know my screen time that week must have been ridiculous. For each of these days, I’d made separate pages in which I included which section I’d be working on and exactly what I wanted to talk about in each section. This helped me to form an accurate to-do list and became an area to jot down all my questions and concerns to figure out later.
That was a rundown of my Notion set up for third year! Notion has been a very useful tool for me during this year, especially during things like my research project where planning was key.
If you want to see what my Notion set up was like last year, you can check out this post over here. In the meantime, I’d love to know if you use Notion. What do you use it for? I’m interested in finding out!