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Getting Organized for an Online Semester: Here’s What’s Working for Me


Building a new routine at the start of the semester is always the most tiring time of the year for me. I often have a hard time with change - and an even harder time balancing my social and academic life when I first get back to school. Obviously this semester things are different. I am back in my college town, but nothing is the same. Campus isn’t buzzing, there are no social events, and all but one of my classes are online. This adjustment has been so strenuous for so many of us, so I’m here to write about the little ways to get yourself organized for this online semester. 

Having a Dedicated Workspace

Determine a quiet, neutral, and comfortable work space. Finding a neutral space that allows you to be productive is something everyone needs to do. This can be so hard when you’re home, so try changing up the environment that you work in when you sit down to get your homework done. Making your bed, opening your blinds, and sitting at a desk can make all the difference. Separating where you relax and where you work is crucial. 

Make a To Do List 

Demanding classes call for a strict schedule. The first tip I have is to make a weekly to-do list for each of your classes. I always find that organizing your to do list by class, and then by what's due each day, is the easiest method for me.

Establish an Aesthetic

With writing this to do list, I have found that a huge way to motivate myself is by making it pretty. Yes it’s silly, but the color coordinated aesthetic is so much more pleasing than writing down everything you need to do on scrap paper with whatever pen is closest to you. 

Organize your Laptop 

Make time to bookmark important websites and online textbooks. Create google docs folders for important PDFs and try to keep your desktop in order. 


Check Your Email 

Check your inbox often and mark important emails. Make a habit of writing down the information your professors are sending you so you don’t miss a deadline or chance for extra credit. 

Print Things Out

Having tangible objects in front of you can remind you that you’re in class. Sometimes I find that giving my eyes a break from all the blue light and looking at an actual book can help me focus. 

Plan Ahead

Have a plan to stay ahead of those technological failures. Make sure you are writing your assignments on a website that automatically saves them. Don’t wait until the last minute to submit something in case the website crashes. We have all been there, and it’s the worst. 



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These seven tips may seem obvious, but make sure you’re keeping yourself in check. Reflecting each week on what did and didn’t work is encouraged. This new way of learning is unfamiliar. Mastering how to stay engaged and retain information through online classes is something I’m having such a hard time with, and honestly this article is a way to remind myself how to stay organized. Along with finding strategies that work for you, make sure to give yourself a break from classes. We are living in a pandemic. Provide yourself with grace in productivity standards and acknowledge that you are dealing with something new. 

Abbey LeClair

U Mass Amherst '22

Abbey LeClair is a senior at the University of Massachusetts - Amherst, majoring in Psychology on the Neuroscience track. She loves to spend her time hanging out with friends, listening to music, and dancing for the UMass Dance Club. Feel free to follow her on Instagram: @abbeyleclair
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