Now I’ve finished the first year of my IT course, I thought it interesting to share how I kept track of my assignments and stayed organised throughout the year.

The first time I tried Notion, I was incredibly overwhelmed—as I imagine most people are. It was only once I had started playing around for a while that I finally got the “knack” of things and was able to confidently construct relational databases for anything and everything. This post is not intended to be a Notion beginners guide, rather a showcase.

The “College Work” Page

A screenshot of Notion, showing the 'College Work' page, which is further described below.

The page that my assignment tracker is on contains more than that. On the left is a navigation list to commonly used college services. This is constructed with callouts.

To the bottom left is a database of the courses’ units. Within this, I store what you would expect: the name of the unit, the tutor that it is taught by, the number of assignments and its status. The interesting part comes from looking at the “grade” and the “points” column. A final BTEC course grade is decided by how many points you earn from each unit; if you finish a unit at a pass grade, this counts for 70 points, a merit will net you 80 points and a distinction is worth 90. This points column is automatically populated depending on which grade is selected.

In the lower right, there is a table which contains the grade boundaries. These relate to the points mentioned previously. Additionally, I have included their value when converted to UCAS points. While I’m not entirely sure if university is the right path for me, I’ve still taken the time to do some research and discover courses and degrees of interest and their entry requirements. These are also reflected in this database.

Additionally in the lower right, there is a grade estimate. Both this and the aforementioned grades table relate to the full two-year extended diploma. This grade estimate works by adding all of the BTEC points from every unit together and deciding which grade is achieved with those points.

The Assignment Tracker

A screenshot of Notion, showing a large table, titled 'Assignment Tracker,' which is further described below.
A screenshot of the Kanban configuration from earlier in the year.

The assignment database is actually nothing too complicated, though it may look it at first. I usually use it in a Kanban board configuration which gives me a good visual overview of the progress of each assignment I am currently working on

The most important property (after the Name) is the status. I have the following values available: “Not Yet Started,” “Working On It,” “Nearly Finished,” “Done but Not Submitted,” “Complete & Submitted,” and “All Done.” This helps me to keep track of how far (or not) I am into an assignment and allows me to prioritise work.

The Tutor property is a lookup property, which fetches its data from the unit that is assigned to the assignment.

The Grade property contains the expected P/M/D as well as “Awaiting” for any assignments that I’ve handed in but have yet to be marked or graded.

The Due date is another important property. Along with the “days to/from” formula property, these again help me to prioritise work and to not forget about any deadlines. I’m yet to hand in any assignment late, and most I end up handing days or weeks early.

The final property assignments can have is Notes. This is a short snippet of text containing need-to-know glanceable information. In most cases—as can be seen in the screenshot—I use this to note the highest grade attainable for an assignment, or a previous grade before a resubmission.

Within Assignments

A screenshot of a page inside of Notion.

Another important aspect that has helped me through the year is appropriate notetaking and summarisation. I have a separate notebook page which I use to keep notes during lessons, which I often refer to if I do not remember a particular piece of information about a topic.

Within assignment pages, I have a checklist of tasks and their requirements. These follow a consistent style and are created by picking out only the essential details from the assignment brief. While rewriting tasks in this way from the assignment brief may seem redundant, I have found that often it is beneficial to my understanding of what the task is actually asking. This makes sure I do not write anything superfluously or present my work in the wrong format.

However…

While it is all well and good having this visually attractive, well-crafted tracker, it is not much use if you do not use it to its fullest potential. At the start of the year several classmates actually asked for a copy to help organise their own assignments with. Another made use of a similar system in Trello rather than Notion to organise theirs. By the end of the year, only two of us had consistently made use of our respective systems and were able to achieve impressive grades. One student neglected their tracker and subsequently became overloaded with work and started handing in unfinished work late. This could’ve been avoided with better organisation of work and tasks and a more steadfast approach to managing it. Even if you do not create or use something as intricate as my Notion solution, it is nevertheless quite essential to keep on top of assignments and work in some way.