Today's Advice: How to Stay Organized in College

A mess-free life seems impossible, even more so for college students, but these tips will help you achieve it. When assignments start piling up, chaos is inevitable. Suddenly, you have crumpled papers all inside your backpack, last minute work (because the professor didn’t know what else to do in class), and you find yourself procrastinating… But it's okay, it happens to the best of us. According to Lifehack, organized people aren’t born organized; they have to cultivate healthy habits, which then help them to organize themselves. Here are four tips that will help you stay organized when your college schedule starts to get busy.


1. Lists

Pen on to Do List PaperTo-do lists give our lives structure. It’s simple, yet very helpful. When you feel overwhelmed with work, create a list of everything you have to do. Then, prioritize! Rate each assignment, from the most important or the one with the nearest due date to the ones that don’t require any immediate action.

“A system is needed – and scribbled notes on hands won’t cut it.” This was said by David Allen, time management expert, who believes that anyone with a full schedule and no structure will struggle to cope. If you want to make your life easier, your lists should be specific. If your to-do list is not clear, your tasks probably won't get done and they won't be prioritized. For instance, instead of writing “read chapter one,” write “read pages one to 15.” It’s not so hard, and it will save you time; just seeing a clear outline will help you stay focused and will motivate you to keep moving forward.  

Another tip to motivate yourself into doing lists is buying a small, pretty notebook and colored pens to write in it. This will make writing to-do lists fun, plus it's aesthetically pleasing.


2. Set your own deadlines for assignments

Apple AirPods near MacBookYou must admit, that assignment you did the day before it was due was not your best work. If you’re a master procrastinator (like me) this tip will be very helpful.

Set your own deadlines for assignments! These should preferably be near the present. Why leave something for next week if you can start it this week? According to, doing this will help you become more driven and will result in you working on your assignment earlier than you normally would. I know I’m not the only one that puts off doing homework to watch Netflix. Not that it's bad to take time to relax, but accomplishing your work earlier will give you more time to have fun later.


3. Use your phone!

pencils and smartphone on top of books

Phones are not only good for scrolling through social media. They are very helpful when it comes to keeping your life together. When I’m stressed, I write to-do lists on paper to help me feel more organized, but I always misplace the paper or forget I even did it. Having access to your lists everywhere you go is much more efficient: that’s why I use my phone!

I absolutely love the Reminders app on iPhone (It’s already downloaded on your iPhone when you buy it. Here are some alternatives for Android users!). Right after my professors announce a test or an assignment, I write it on the app with the time and date I want a reminder to be sent. It has been very helpful when things get complicated, and it's super easy to use.

Another thing that keeps me organized is setting several alarms on my phone for the morning. Instead of snoozing the alarm, set three alarms (or more) before the time you actually have to wake up. This way you can combat oversleeping and ease your body awake. The same applies to those micro naps some of us take in-between classes.  


4. Clean your workspace.

My last tip for being organized in college is keeping a clean workspace! I strongly believe in having a clear mind when it's time to study, and a messy desk is the biggest distraction. According to the Huffington Post, the general condition of your living environment affects your personal productivity. An organized desk will help you feel focused and position you for success.


Don’t worry if you’re not organized right away; it takes time. Being organized is a habit, and habits take at least 21 days to develop properly! The best advice I ever got was to take one step at a time. Start by identifying what you need to change in your routine and prioritize. Our journeys as students are about progress, not about being perfect. Just do your best!