As college students, we are all juggling a variety of different commitments and obligations that can sometimes be difficult to keep track of. With so many moving parts in a weekly schedule, it’s so easy to forget about a meeting you confirmed you were attending or an extraneous homework assignment that wasn’t on Canvas. I am an extremely organized person, to the point where it’s almost obsessive and compulsive, so I have tons of tips for staying organized (some of which are more realistic and simple than others*).
Invest in a Weekly Planner
The only way that I am able to keep track of my weekly schedule is by writing every obligation I have down in my planner. I have a personalized planner from Bluesky.com that goes from July 2018 to July 2019, and contains both monthly calendars and detailed slots for daily commitments. If you’re not into that, they sell weekly agendas with the Brown class schedule in them in The Bookstore. For those of you who prefer to keep your life digital, there are tons of apps, including the built-in Apple apps Calendar and Reminders, that will allow you to keep track of commitments and give yourself alerts when things are coming up.
Do your homework based on when it’s assigned, not according to when it’s due
By this, I mean when you get a reading assigned on Monday for Wednesday class, do it Monday afternoon before you have the chance to be assigned further work on Tuesday that will bog you down. This way, Tuesday afternoon will be available to you for completing the work assigned that day rather than having to finish Monday’s assigned reading last minute. Though this may seem counterintuitive if it’s not what you’re used to doing, I promise you it’s effective. When I get homework assigned, I start it as soon as possible so that I am not scrambling to finish it right before it’s due. While this is rather obvious, what’s less evident is that if you continue to do this every time you receive an assignment, it’s very difficult to fall behind on assignments because you give yourself the cushion of a day or two.
Keep your room clean
Part of being productive is keeping your living space clean. When you take something out or try on an article of clothing, put it away when you’re done! If this concept is too daunting for you, set aside a time for yourself once or twice a week to clean up your room and take out your trash. When your room is clean, you will feel more productive and more able to control other aspects of your life that may be difficult to keep organized.
Plan out your week
An important way to stay on top of your life is to look at the week you have ahead before going into it (side note: doing so is much easier if you…you guessed it…buy a planner!). This way, you can plan out when your free time is, when you need to buckle down, and when you have time to participate in activities that you find fun. This is also a great way of making sure assignments don’t sneak up on you. I always feel more comfortable relaxing and sitting back with my delivered Insomnia order and Netflix when I know for a fact I have the luxury of doing so given my workload that week.
Utilize the organizational items available in The Brown Bookstore
On a more specific, tactical level, buying a notebook and folder for each class will help you keep track of your papers and notes more effectively. Though this appears trivial, you’d be surprised to see the amount of students who have loose papers shoved into their backpacks or multiple classes’ worth of notes in one notebook. Though you may have to go the extra length to purchase four separate sets of materials for each class initially, you will save yourself so much time and stress when gathering your notes and materials to prepare for midterms and finals.
Set aside time to do things that make you happy
Though this may not seem organization-related, it 100% is. Part of being organized and on top of things is feeling like you have a sense of control over your life and your work. The only way to obtain this direction is to allow yourself time to de-stress and decompress. Doing things such as watching your favorite TV series, visiting your favorite coffee shop, hopping in an Uber to the mall, or just sitting around with friends will allow you to experience the moments that make life worth living, and help those tasks that seem tedious feel less like a chore. This will inherently make you feel more able to conquer obstacles, stay organized, and stay on top of your life.
*I have been labeled by some of my friends as absolutely anal about organization and so if any of these points seem absurd and not at all doable to the averagely organized human, have no fear. These are just some helpful tips that hopefully will inspire you to become more organized or encourage you to try a few of them out!