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7 Organization Tips and Apps for a Successful Semester

The start of a new semester can get overwhelming if you don’t have a system to organize yourself. There’s so much to keep track of – assignments, tests, projects, events, job schedules, club meetings, etc. Who can keep track of all that in their head?

Last semester I realized that having systems to organize myself made things a lot easier for me. And when things are easier, you free up a lot of time to do the things you love! Here’s a list of seven must-have apps and helpful tips that will guide you to effortless organization, and help you keep track of everything you need to remember this semester:

Download MyStudyLife (free app and website).

This is my secret weapon. MyStudyLife is perfect for those who don’t really like or use physical planners. It serves as a place where you can plug in important assignments, tests, tasks, reminders, and your academic schedule.

Here are some highlights:

You can plug in your schedule: this helps especially with the first couple weeks of classes. It’s easier to whip out your phone to see what building you have to go to and at what time than to shuffle papers to find your schedule. And guess what? You can set up a notification on the app that lets you know you have class in 15 minutes. Ex: *buzz* “Survey of Statistics in 15 minutes. HHE 211.”

The dashboard is all-encompassing: This feature lets you know what classes, assignments, or tests you have that day!

Pro tip: at the beginning of the semester, plug in all important dates for your classes on this app so you can refer to it when you don’t have your syllabus on you. Warning: this tip will only work if you encounter the miracle of having professors that actually stick to their syllabi.

Sync up: Your account syncs up with the app and website! Misplaced your phone? Just log in to their website, and everything’s there as you left it.

Give physical planners a try.

Let’s say you don’t really like the idea of having a digital planner. That’s fair; you have hundreds of options to choose from when it comes to physical planners! I have some friends that are passionate about their Passion Planner, and some that love their Day Designer planner. If you want to go all out with decorating and getting a cute book, feel free! But psst! You can get a free planner at the Panthertainment Booth in the UC too! Whatever you use, write down everything. That way, all you need to know is at the turn of a page.

Download Google Calendar (free app and website), or iCal (free, available on iPhones).

We’re gonna need something to keep track of all those dates, am I right ladies?

All jokes aside, keeping track of when you have important events, tests, and even WHAT day it is are a must to stay organized. Google Calendar and iCal are great tools to use for staying on track. You can set notifications, plan things in advance, and block out times in your schedule for studying (or Netflix…after you study of course!)

Pro tip: on Google Calendar, make a separate calendar that has the time of all your professors’ office hours this semester. It’ll be helpful when you want to meet with them and need to figure out what time they’re available. If you want to get more of a feel for how you can use Google Calendar, check out this video here.

Folders, folders, folders.

Digital or not, folders will save your life down the line. Useful ways to use folders:

Have a folder for each course you take this semester. As needed, place all appropriate papers where they need to go – Chemistry notes go in the Chemistry folder, Psych notes go in the Psych folder, etc.

Why should I do this? So that come finals week, you’ll have all your old notes in an organized folder, girl! No more scrambling through notes from your five different classes to find that one point your Anatomy professor made at the beginning of the semester. It’s all handled!

For digital folders, such as on your computer or on Google Drive (see next tip), have sub-folders. For example, if I wanted to find my General Psych notes from last semester I would go to the following folders: SCHOOL > SPRING 2017 > GENERAL PSYCH. You can make your subfolders as specific or broad as you want. Often it helps to make folders specific to certain projects or assignments if they require lots of papers or group collaboration.

Clear out your email in bites. 

Sometimes I feel as though my inbox is eating another inbox – it’s that FULL. During the first couple weeks of school, you get dozens of emails from departments, campus clubs, back-to-school sales, etc. It can become a sea of emails with no shore in sight. Here are a couple ways I got my inbox down to 29 emails. Yes…. TWENTY-NINE. Just looking at the number feels weird and refreshing. Here’s what you can do about it:

Set aside 20 minutes a day where you clear out emails from your inbox (these 20 minutes add up).

Unsubscribe to at least five mailing lists… I know you might have about seven that seemed cool at the time, but if you don’t use them, they just take up space. Who else has at least half an inbox of Forever 21 emails and Buzzfeed newsletters? *raises hand* Just me?

Tip: Don’t think you have 20 minutes to spare? Commit to deleting or responding to, if need be, at least 25 emails per day.

Use Google Drive (free app and website. Also try: Dropbox, or any other sort of Cloud).

Google Drive, Dropbox, and other Cloud systems make it easy for you to access documents, PowerPoints, and tons of other files through the wi-fi accessible sites and apps they offer. This can help you save space on your computer, and allows you to access these files from any computer at any point. Google Drive, Dropbox, and other Cloud systems make it easy for you to access documents, PowerPoints, and tons of other files through the wi-fi accessible sites and apps they offer. This can help you save space on your computer, and allows you to access these files from any computer at any point.

Use Google Docs.

This tip goes hand-in-hand with my prior Google Drive tip. I think Google Docs may be magic, along with any other Microsoft-Word-like documents that save automatically. Having the ability to save my research papers, assignments, etc. automatically, and being able to access them from anywhere is a BLESSING. Crashing computer, who? Lost flash drive, where? I don’t know them. Here’s a bit of tip-inception for you: keep all your Google Docs in a folder on your Google Drive account!

Another benefit of having Google Docs is that you can upload your documents to whatever computer you’re using as a Microsoft Word document, and you can attach them to emails. You can even share them with other people to view or edit! This helps group projects run much smoother, and a lot more organized. What’s more is that on mobile devices, you can edit and create documents without wifi. To all commuters that take public transportation, you’re welcome.

In conclusion, whatever method you use to organize yourself this semester, take pride in knowing you’re making things easier for future-you. Folders and planners are sure to help your grades out, but more importantly, these tips can give you peace of mind at the end of the day. Cheers to becoming more organized, less stressed, and happier versions of ourselves!

Valencia Saint-Louis is a Senior at Adelphi University, majoring in Communications with a concentration in Media Studies. She is passionate about living well, supporting and motivating others, being an active leader, and educating others through entertainment. Building effective teams, promoting helpful resources and services, and creating meaningful content are essential pillars of Valencia's professional vision. 
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