One of the keys to college success is knowing how to get and stay organized. If you don’t learn this skill early on, you may find yourself wasting time on unimportant tasks, while missing out on valuable study time. A few handy devices and tricks can make a big difference in how your day plays out.
A student planner is a backpack necessity. Take that thing everywhere. Write down assignments and exam dates as they come up. Cross off items as you complete them. When your professor hands you a syllabus at the beginning of the quarter or semester, look it over and make notes in your planner that remind you about important dates, such as midterms or big project due dates. If you don’t want to get a paper planner, many phones now have handy planner apps that can used for this purpose.
College life is a busy time, and you may feel overwhelmed or like you can never get everything done. Sit down, write out a daily schedule on a piece of paper and transfer the completed schedule into your planner. Once it's in your planner, stick to that schedule the best you can. Designate blocks of time for certain activities. Class times are easy to write down. Then fill in the blanks, such as study time, work and grocery shopping. Don’t forget to take into account travel time from one activity to the next. You also need to schedule some down time for yourself, so you don’t get burnt out from all of the running around.
One of those big desk calendars can help you stay organized and hopefully prevent you from forgetting important dates. This type of calendar is used in addition to your planner and helps you see the bigger picture of your upcoming responsibilities at one glance, instead of having to page through your planner to see when your next big assignment is due. Use a color-coding system to keep things straight. For instance, use a red pen to write down exam dates and times. Blue pen can be for assignment due dates, black for work shifts and green ink for doctor appointments, laundry day and events like that. Either hang the calendar next to your desk or, if you can actually see your desktop, place it there.
A white board can act as your little reminder buddy. This method of organization is also used in addition to the other items. It helps direct your attention to tasks and items that you either didn't add to your planner and calendar, like groceries, or need an extra reminder of, such as study group Thursday at 7:00. Divide it into different sections and label them, such as “To Do,” “Grocery List” and “Don’t Forget…” Write items down as needed and erase items when you have completed the task. The beauty of the white board is that it doesn’t take up much space, but it is reusable and easily seen if you place it at eye level. Make doodles on it to make it more inviting, friendly and fun, if you want.
An organized workspace can help you stay on task and utilize your time wisely, instead of spending the first 30 minutes looking for a pen or highlighter on the messy pile you call a desk. An empty jelly jar can keep pens and highlighters in one place. A trip to the dollar store can help you get economically organized with a cheap organization bin or two, a file folder box and random office supplies. Get a little desk lamp to keep the area well lit. An organized workspace can be more inviting than a messy one, yet prevent you from dozing off while studying like you would do if you were studying on your bed.
Folders and Binders
Inside your backpack, you should have a folder for each class. Each class should have its own color, such as biology has a blue folder, math has a red one and yellow for philosophy. Put the handouts, diagrams and assignment papers in the folders as you get them, so they don’t have a chance to “disappear” on you. If you want to keep all of the folders in one place, put them in a three-ring binder.