How to Get and Stay Organized

Every year it’s the same thing. You break out your new notebooks, color-coded sticky notes, and class-specific folders and promise yourself that this semester will be different.  This is the semester you’ll get your life together and stay on top of your assignments. No more procrastination. Flash forward to two weeks later when you’re desperately rummaging through gum wrappers and chip bags to try to find a pen to finish an assignment that’s due in five minutes.  Get your life together.

1. Invest in a quality planner and use only that planner.

No matter how good your memory is, there is no way you can remember the due dates of all of your assignments, times of meetings, friend’s birthdays, etc.  Having a planner is probably the most important thing you can do to stay organized.  They have some really cute ones too:

2. Write the due dates for upcoming assignments days before it’s actually due.

This is something I started doing last semester that helped me a ton.  If an assignment is due Friday, there’s a good chance I won’t start it until Thursday night.  However, if I write in my planner that the assignment is due Wednesday, I’ll get it done by Tuesday, three days before it’s actually due! This prevents me from procrastinating assignments and gives me more time to edit or improve them if needed.

  3. Clean out your backpack/purse at the end of each day.

I have an obscene amount of things in my backpack. I’m always scared of being unprepared, so I have gum, extra makeup, deodorant, perfume, Chapstick, back-up Chapstick, etc.  Call me excessive, but this system hasn’t failed me yet.  However, this can easily lead to gum wrappers, used sticky notes, and empty pens lost in the bottom of my bag.  Cleaning it out every night ensures it is uncluttered.

4. Download all Canvas uploads from your classes and keep them in their own folders on your laptop.

Freshman year I caught myself constantly taking the time to log into Canvas to find something in a course folder.  To avoid this waste of time, download all Canvas PDFs and keep them in labeled folders on your computer.  That way you only have to click on the folder instead of taking the time to log into Canvas.  

5. Keep track of your syllabi.

You know the cliché.  Every time you have to ask a professor a question about an assignment or exam, the answer is always in the syllabus. Just download them and put them in your folders mentioned above and you won’t have to deal with the embarrassment of constantly asking your classmates or professors questions that you can easily find the answers to on your own.  

6. Wake up early.

College has forced me to become a morning person.  Getting up early forces me to spend my time getting things done instead of sleeping.  

7. Have an outfit ready the night before.

This saves a ton of time in the morning. Check the predicted weather for tomorrow and pick out an outfit complete with accessories and shoes.  Bonus points if you have a roommate who always wakes up when you’re searching through your drawers picking out an outfit in the morning.   *Disclaimer: Check the weather before you leave in the morning because New England weather will change overnight.  One time the weather app told me it would be 60 and sunny, so the night before I set out a sundress and the next day I failed to double check the weather and it ended up being 30.  Don’t be me.  

8. Color-code your notes.

Especially if you’re a visual learner, color-coding your notes make them soooo much easier to remember. It also looks really pretty.

9. Break up large assignments into smaller chunks, and set deadlines for each chunk.

For example, if you have an essay due Friday, make the introduction due Sunday, the body paragraphs due Tuesday, the conclusion due Wednesday, and the final draft due Thursday.  Not only does this make the essay less intimidating and easier to handle, but also keeps you from waiting until the last minute to write the whole thing.  Also, I can’t sit down and spend eight consecutive hours writing a paper. I just can’t.

Hopefully, these tips will help you become more organized and an all-around better student!