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Top Tips for Getting Organized and Setting Goals

It’s the beginning of the semester, and a lot of the time that means it feels as though the world is crashing down and that there are not nearly enough hours in the day. I know, from personal experience, the transition from high school to college and even each year of undergrad feels impossible. For the entirety of my freshman year, I felt disorganized and lost, and it took me until the beginning of my sophomore year to begin to get organized and set attainable goals. I’ve compiled the top things that I believe have made a difference in my life that made me become as productive as I could. I hope that these tips will help you on your journey to structuring your life so you don’t have to go through the same kind of stress that I endured.

Get out of bed

I know that may seem self-explanatory, but at times when you feel too stressed to move, it becomes far too easy to not want to leave the comfort of a bed or a dorm room. I promise that you will feel better if you get up and get moving, even if that’s the only thing you can bring yourself to do that day. The first step to getting organized and setting goals is making sure you can put yourself in the headspace to do such.

Do what is necessary to make yourself feel good and confident

Once you get up, find any sort of morning routine that makes you feel prepared and happy. It could be as simple as just grabbing some water and reading a book, or you can do an entire  12-step thing. Starting your day in a way that inspires you to do more is one of the main things that got me to be productive throughout my day.

Set attainable and progressive goals

Too often, there is an idea that goals have to be large and far out; things such as finishing my class with a 4.0, getting a promotion at my job, or even as far as getting my degree. While these are all important goals to have, they are hard to comprehend and work on in the short run. Instead, attempt to focus on smaller goals that can slowly progress into you attaining the big things in life. For example, one of my main goals is to get into a top 10 law school. With just that goal alone, it is near impossible to organize my life in a way that would set me up to get accepted to those schools. Instead, I’ll set a goal for myself to research at local law firms. This may seem like a small and insignificant step, but by repeating this process, you will be able to attain your greater goals without feeling overwhelmed.

Determine if you work better with paper or electronic notes/planners

Everyone has their own personal opinion on which form of note-taking results in the most retention of information. At the end of the day, it all comes down to your ways of learning. I know, for myself, I found it easiest to take notes on an iPad so that I was capable of having my notes in an online and transferrable format while still being able to take notes by hand. Try out a few different note-taking and planning techniques, and see what works best for you. I spent my whole life thinking the best way to take notes and plan was to type them on my computer. However, by taking a couple of days to experiment with different formats and software, organizing my life became a lot easier.

ACTUALLY get and use either an online or paper planner

I know that right now you are probably thinking to yourself that you’re the exception. Sure, everyone ELSE needs a planner, but I can function completely fine without one. That might have worked in high school, and you might think that it’s working now, but I promise that as soon as you create a comprehensive schedule for yourself and actually stick with it, life becomes a lot easier to regulate. If you can’t do paper planners, that is completely fine (neither can I). I personally love using Notion. It allows you to have a digital planner that you can log into through both the website and an app on any device. It also lets you create multiple different calendars or lists in one space, so you can create different pages for due dates, a day-to-day schedule, work plans, etc. Plus, it’s free. Try out new things and find something that works for you.

Branch out into new classes and clubs

Find things to fill your planner with that you enjoy and are passionate about! Now that you are able to easily see when you are available and what you have to do, see what your campus or town has to offer. It becomes far too easy to get stuck in a simple routine and not explore new opportunities. Just a quick google search of clubs, activities, and volunteer opportunities in your area will help you branch out and feel more productive. Add a couple of dates to your schedule for events that interest you and try a couple of them out!

Allow yourself space to relax and see friends

At the end of the day, you can only effectively set goals and organize your life if you are taking care of yourself. You are human, and you need to give yourself grace. Downtime is just as important to achieving goals as working and studying. Plan a couple of nights in (or out) with friends, take a self-care day, and do what is overall best for you!

Ella McKanna is a staff writer for Her Campus MSU. Currently, she is a sophomore studying Social Relations and Policy on a pre-law track. The major themes that she focuses on within her articles are laws and regulations regarding women, current political platforms, as well as a little bit of everyday life
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