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Six Tips for Being Organized Second Semester

It goes without saying, university can be a stressful experience. Personally, I find that prioritizing organization can help relieve and prevent some of that stress. Being organized is something that can be tricky to master, and may take some time to perfect, but it will be something you have control over and can be proud of yourself for doing. Here is a list of organization tips I found helpful this past semester that you might find useful for the upcoming one:

1. Colour Code Your Courses

Back to basics! Just like in elementary school, assign each class you have a basic colour to help yourself easily differentiate between subjects. Colour coding is a basic feature in most note taking, and school-related apps, so this tip is also digital friendly. Colours like blue, orange, red, yellow and green are common and great options on Google and Microsoft apps, for example.  

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Photo by Nataliya Vaitkevich from Pexels

2. Use an Online Calendar

Make use of an online calendar like Google Calendar or whatever calendar app comes with your smartphone, tablet, or laptop. You can create a separate calendar for each course with the colour you have assigned to that class. Take the time to sit down and go through each syllabus for each course to add in important dates, deadlines, and other notes. 

You can use your calendar as much as you want. There are even options to have emails synced with your daily calendar. Personally, I find that option to be annoying. I prefer to look at my calendar at the beginning of every week instead. 

3. Create Assignment Sheets

Create an assignment sheet for your courses. This makes it easy to keep track of due dates and course progress. In my assignment sheets, I have a column for the course name, the assignment, other requirements, due dates, and status (started, finished, handed in and given back). 

4. Organize Your Email 

Create tags and folders for each course in your university email mailbox. Whenever you open a new email that is university related, add a tag that matches the email content. Some tags I have in my email are ones for each of my courses, as well as a purple tag for official Western emails. I also created a zoom tag when I found I was having trouble keeping track of the emails sent to me with zoom meeting information. 

5. Set up Desktop Folders

Create folders on your desktop for each course. Within that folder, create folders for things such as course syllabus, course readings or assignments. I like to go on a weekly basis, so I have folders titled Week 1, Week 2, Week 3 and so on. 

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Original photo by Holly Steen

6. Create Personal Note Templates

Consider making your own note templates on whichever software you like to take your notes on. A note template is an outline with a basic structure that you can write/type your notes into. If you prefer to handwrite your notes, you can keep an example template with you or a cue-card reminding you of the format. In my experience, it is usually easy to find the general format of notes after a couple weeks in a course. For example, if you have a professor who includes a set of slides as part of the course content each week, you can make a note template that fits with that. 

Her Campus Western. Note template example.
Original photo by Holly Steen

That’s it! Hopefully you’ll be able to find something helpful in my tips. Not every method will work for every student, but trying different methods of organization can be the best way to find something that helps you succeed academically. Keep in mind that staying organized is just one way to help reduce some of the stress of being a university student.

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Holly is a second year English student at Western. She's an avid reader and loves a good chai-tea latte.
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