About Melissa Schmalenberger

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The Organized Student

Posted by Melissa Schmalenberger on September 9, 2014 in Family, life, Moms |

With school in session, many students are feeling the crunch of having to get it all done with limited hours. We are all over scheduled and over tired. We try to do everything and try to say yes to everything. But remember the power of the word “no”.

This year my middle son started college and I write this with him in mind. I remember when my oldest went to college and he said he went from high school wondering what questions on tests he got wrong to in college, wondering what questions he got right. All of a sudden, school was harder and having to balance work, activities and school became more difficult. Most college students work and some even have families. This can be a challenge. Throw in moving away from home and no longer having the nagging voice of a parent reminding them to get the homework done can be an adjustment.

So I hope I have instilled in my children good study habits. My study habits were “wait until the last possible minute and cram everything in and go into panic mode.” Hopefully they can learn from my mistakes and make better choices.

1. Find a place to study that works for you. This may mean a quiet section of the library. Or laying on your bed with headphones in. All dorm rooms are equipped with desks, but usually dorm rooms are the least quiet spot. Dorm room desks are used to give the parents the illusion that their child is going to sit there all the time and be studious. As an organizer, I find dorm desks a waste of good space. Multipurpose the space and use it as a bookcase. In dorms, people stop in and distract you and it could take hours to get back on track. If you are a college student and have a family, you may need to be creative with this. It could be early morning hours on your kitchen table before anyone wakes up. It could be a local coffee shop. Experiment and find a place that works for you and your needs.

With laptops and smart phones, we are no longer tied to a desk. My middle son would take a book to the zoo and read. There was something relaxing that he found at the zoo. Being unconventional is ok as long as you are getting the work done.

2. Schedule heads down time. It is always good to schedule things that may be overlooked. Sometimes we just try to fit in studying into empty pockets of time in our day. If we get an invitation to do something fun, we will say yes and those empty pockets will evaporate. But schedule the heads down time. Because what would happen if you had regularly scheduled hours of the day that you use for studying?

3. Keep track of deadlines early on. Make sure you know when papers are due and what dates tests will be. Put them in your calendar system now. Knowing that you have two papers due on the same day will be an important thing to know early on for planning.

4. Turn off distractions and unplug. This could be social media, email and text messages. Once we get distracted it could take us hours to get back on track. If need be, reward yourself and take a break every hour and use the break time for getting plugged back in.

5. Plug in headphones. I find headphones are the universal sign of “don’t bother me.” When I have my headphones on and my head down people don’t approach me and I can focus for long periods of time. I may appear anti social but I am getting work done.

6. Keep your study materials organized. More and more school work is being condensed electronically. We don’t go through reams of paper and notebooks. I think this year my middle sons college books cost under $100. Even in high school, my youngest was given a PLD, or personal learning device. His Chemistry class is taught using upside down learning and the instruction is done via video that they watch at home. Class room time is used for questions. So it boils down to making sure your laptop is organized. Learn how to use folders and cloud storage.

7. Know when to join a study group. This was essential when I was in law school. Some classes simply have the need for a study group. Talking to students who took the class ahead of you should help you determine the need. Don’t make the group too large or scheduling of the group will become a logistical nightmare.

8. Know when to hire a tutor. Not all classes are easy. Knowing early on that you need help is better than realizing it the night before the final. Finding a tutor is easy. I had a Latin tutor who happened to be the graduated student working with my Latin professor. Colleges want you to succeed and there are resources if you just ask.

9. Take a speed reading class. Sometimes you just need to learn to read faster. I read very fast but comprehend little. My middle son reads slowly and comprehends it all. I think finding the middle ground is perfect and usually a speed reading class is just what you need to find the ability to read quickly and also comprehend.

10. Know when to drop a class. In graduate school, my husband had one class that it took the average person several tries to pass. Unfortunately it was taught by only one person who was highly intelligent but lacked basic communication skills. If you find yourself in that situation recognize it early on and talk to your advisor about options.

11. The mom in me wants to remind you to get plenty of sleep, eat your fruits and vegetables. Hang out with friends who are good influences on you. Limit your alcohol (if of age) and caffeine consumption and increase your water consumption. Take time to exercise and don’t have too much fun!

It is early fall and now is the time to evaluate your study habits. Have an organized school year!


to joyful, organized simplicity,


MS. Simplicity

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Holding On

Posted by Melissa Schmalenberger on September 2, 2014 in Family, life, Moms |

Admit it, you have that pile of things that need to be mailed or dropped off to a family or a friend. The pile always grows and never seems to disappear. It may be an article in the newspaper that you thought they might like. Or it may be your son’s hand me down jeans [...]

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Boxing Up A Life Part Two

Posted by Melissa Schmalenberger on August 24, 2014 in Uncategorized |

  Last week I blogged about how painful it was to pack up my son as he prepares to move 250 miles away to college this week. I not only packed up the stuff he was taking to college, but also the stuff he was leaving behind. This one container of memories will go to [...]

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Boxing Up A Life

Posted by Melissa Schmalenberger on August 17, 2014 in Family, life, Moms |

As I prepare to pack up my middle son and send him on his way to college 250 miles away, I am reminded by some advice a friend of mine gave me when I did this two years ago, if I was to cry, it could only be tears of pride and joy. I am [...]

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Lack Of Time Getting In Your Way?

Posted by Melissa Schmalenberger on August 12, 2014 in Family, life, Moms |

There is a proven fact out there that we all have the same 24 hours a day in a seven day week. This is where it becomes interesting, we all have the choice to decide what to do in those 24 hours. My biggest pet peeve, and I mean biggest, is hearing people say they [...]

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To Multitask Or Not Multitask That Is The Question

Posted by Melissa Schmalenberger on August 4, 2014 in Family, life, Moms |

“Multitasking is merely the opportunity to screw up more than one thing at a time.” Steve Uzzell   As women, we pride ourselves with being able to do a million things at once, but can we really? It seems to me that we have been sold a bunch of lies when we were told that [...]

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Would You Buy This Again?

Posted by Melissa Schmalenberger on July 29, 2014 in Family, life, Moms, money |

The reasons that we have clutter varies by person to person. Just like the ability to get rid of it varies from person to person. For some it is easy and they can rid themselves of sentimental items without a blink of an eye. My husband could donate my wedding dress with no problems but if I [...]

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Dorm Room Packing Essentials

Posted by Melissa Schmalenberger on July 22, 2014 in Family, Moms |

  I have reached that time that another child is about to leave the nest. This child going is much harder than the previous one….because I know how I will feel afterward. With my oldest I was excited and told by a friend to only cry tears of pride and joy. And I did. But [...]

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What’s Love Got To Do With It?

Posted by Melissa Schmalenberger on July 15, 2014 in Uncategorized |

I had an interesting conversation with a family friend last week after she pointed out that I “made” my son carry my supplies to my car for an organizing party. She told me that he was mad at me and that I should be able to do it myself. What I saw and heard was my son sitting in [...]

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Life Will Start When My To-Do List Is Done

Posted by Melissa Schmalenberger on July 8, 2014 in Family, life, Moms |

For the last three months I have had one long to-do list. It seems like every single day I needed to work through it just to get to the next day. If I skip a day nobody did it for me. It lands right on me and my perfectionistic ways. I know exactly when it [...]

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