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Kaitlyn’s Guide to Staying Organized in College

When transitioning from high school to college, developing organizational skills is a must. With classes, homework, appointments, clubs, events and other commitments, your life can become exceedingly busy all at once.

Trying to balance everything can be very difficult for some, and I’m not afraid to admit that it was for me the first few weeks of classes. I was overwhelmed by the amount of homework I had to do while still trying to remain physically active, fit in meals, attend meetings and appointments, and try to have a semblance of social life. Achieving all of this was impossible for me at the time and I started to get discouraged with myself as I struggled to balance it all. However, with trial and error, I gradually developed organizational skills and tips that have successfully gotten me through the past few weeks with ease.

It’s no secret that life’s events can really get in the way of college sometimes. With these few simple organizational tips that I swear by, you’ll feel less overwhelmed while you continue to achieve more - which is the ultimate goal for any college student!

Buy a planner AND use it daily.

Now, you might be saying to yourself, this is way too easy.  This is a very easy step, however, you’d be surprised by the number of people who buy a planner and struggle to use it, or don’t use it at all. For this tip to be effective, it needs to be used daily. Write down all events, important dates, and exams for the upcoming month in the monthly planner, while also writing down homework, readings, discussion posts that are due, extra credit opportunities and other due dates in the weekly planner. This might not work for everyone, which is perfectly fine and it can take time to get used to a planner - especially if you prefer one on your phone or one in hand. However, that being said, this way of organizing events and homework helped me out immensely. It allows you to look back at what’s happening during the month and look ahead at what is to come, preparing you for all the demands and tasks that are coming your way.

Write down assignments and exam dates from the syllabus immediately.

When doing this, you can continuously look at future weeks to see what's to come and that’s when you can start planning for upcoming quizzes, exams, and papers. Color coding can also allow you to prepare well for the future and for me personally, I have implemented a system using those colors. For example, I choose a specific color for when an assignment is due in five to seven days, one for when it’s due in three to five days, and one for when that assignment is due in one to three days. This color-coding system has allowed me to plan ahead in regards to what tasks to prioritize and has also helped me figure out when and what I need to start studying.

Use a separate notebook for your daily ‘To-Do’ list or alternatively, a homework list.

Keeping a to-do list is an easy way to organize your day and get through each task stress-free -I use a separate hand-sized notebook specifically for my day to day homework. I spend the night before writing down what I need to get done for the next day in terms of homework, and once the task has been completed, I cross it off. Crossing tasks off a list is extremely satisfying to me and additionally, having the satisfaction of getting something done motivates me to continue working hard until each task is crossed off.

Utilize the night before.

When you do this, it makes your mornings go by with little to no bumps in the road because you are able to prepare prior to the morning of. For example, having your school bag packed the night before eliminates the time you would be using in the morning as you scramble to find your notebooks or realizing your laptop is dead. This also works with planning what you’re going to wear the next day. This isn’t to say that your clothes have to be laid out nicely in a pile on your desk chair, but having a clear idea of what you’ll be wearing (especially by checking the weather the night before, as well! ) saves you time and avoids a stressful situation in the morning as you change out of the same three outfits unable to figure out to wear.

Take 5 minutes to declutter/clean.

From cleaning out your school bag to reorganizing your workspace/bedroom, having a clean and decluttered space can clear your mind and lessen your hassle. Doing this for at least five minutes a day can change your whole mind space and mood so that you're in the right headspace to complete the tasks that you need to.

Remember to get enough sleep no matter what didn’t get done that night.

Sleep is extremely important! You won’t be able to get through any day of the week on only a few hours of sleep. Getting the amount of sleep you need so that you are able to function on a day-to-day basis is a huge factor in staying organized and productive, as it keeps you alert and in a good mood throughout the day.

After exploring different methods of organization, these few tips have helped me create a personalized system that works best for me. I hope that constructing this guide can help do the same, or possibly aid you in creating the perfect routine that best suits you moving forward! 







Kaitlyn is a first-year student at the University of Maine with a major in Elementary Education, in hopes of finding a minor in the near future. She enjoys nature walks on the bog walk, geocaching with her friends, and watching horror movies all year round!
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