How to Stay Organized as the Semester Picks Up

Compartmentalizing 

When I'm feeling overwhelmed, I like to physically divide things up into smaller bites. Sometimes, I sit on the floor and turn in a circle, creating piles of work. The first pile has everything I need to do for my English class: books, notes, assignment sheets. The next has Sociology, then Math, and so on. By dividing this way, I can sit and focus one subject at a time without having to think about the others.

Color-coding

Even if you haven't been color-coding up to this point, it's never too late to start. I like to color-code by class. Each of my classes has a specific color, but my jobs and social events do, too. By organizing this way, I can see exactly what I'm working on and keep everything separate in my head. It also helps me look back at my week and see how I've been spending my time--if there's a lot of purple, maybe I've been having a little too much fun.

My friend Morgan likes to color-code by deadline. "I used to color-code each class," she says. "But then I ran out of colors." Instead, Morgan uses red for things due today, yellow for things due tomorrow, and green for things due three days from now. For anything after that, she uses blue. If you color-code this way, it can help you prioritize your time and meet deadlines. 

To-Do Lists

Even though I keep a planner, I also keep to-do lists. As the end of the semester gets closer, I make a (color-coded) list of every single thing I have to complete between now and finals. It includes readings, responses, papers, and projects. Go through all of your syllabi and class schedules to make sure you don't miss anything. As you go along, crossing things off let's you know how close you are to finishing. 

Fake Deadlines

I'm a huge procrastinator. Maybe that's why I have to be so organized. To stave off my procrastination, I give myself fake deadlines. Usually, I try to do these in advance so that I forget they were fake in the first place. I see "Paper 2 due October 30" in my planner and just believe that's the actual deadline, letting me get ahead on my work.