By now you know my two favorite things are saving time and money—that’s what Your College Sensei is all about. Knowing how to be organized in college will help tremendously with both.
Nothing feels worse than when homework has piled up or you’ve totally forgotten about a due date or even a test. That creates unnecessary anxiety and stress. Fortunately, staying organized in college will be super simple if you utilize these 3 easy steps.
Let’s jump right in.
1. Create A To-Do-List
Create a to-do list. I know it sounds so basic, but it really works! There’s no need to make things harder than they are. A to-do list is simple and efficient—what more do you need? I wrote down everything when I was in college. Every assignment, quiz, exam, project, even my work, and my karate schedules. After a bit of time, it became such a habit that I didn’t think about. I always knew where I needed to be and when I needed to be there.
I don’t care how you create your to-do list. It can be physical or digital, whatever you prefer. A basic planner, the notes in your phone, or something more complex like Asana or Google Calander. Whatever you choose to use, make a to-do list of everything important and review your list at the beginning of each day.
Use Your Syllabi
Use your college class syllabi to help create your to-do list. Your syllabus combines expectations for the course and guides the student on how to complete the course successfully. It is often overlooked and underused. I want you to get very familiar with your syllabus as it will be crucial to creating your to-do lists.
A syllabus is a map of everything you will do and what will be expected of you in class. It will contain everything, and I mean everything. Course description, breakdown of grades, description of assignments, course policies, course calendar, reading assignments and weekly topics, and holidays. If you have a question about the class and assignments, it can most likely be answered in the syllabus. Your syllabus is a great tool to help you stay organized in school so keep it handy.
Update Your To-Do List As You Go
As you go through your day, you will complete items on your to-do list. Cross these off or update your list throughout the day. This will allow you to track your progress and force you to look at your list periodically.
Tracking your progress will reduce stress and increase your mood because you can see your list becoming smaller. Additionally, as you update your to-do list, you will remind yourself of the other items remaining on the list. This will allow you to adjust your day to fit everything in.
2. Create A Routine
Creating a routine is a powerful tool. Routines provide structure and discipline, reducing stress and the feeling of being overwhelmed. Adhering to a schedule will help you be productive, proficient, and in control.
Having a routine just makes you a better student. A good routine allows you to be more efficient because you know exactly what you are going to do each day. You don’t even have to think about it. This is where it is so beneficial in college.
Your Routine Will Change Every Semester
Every semester is slightly different than the last so you will create a new routine each semester. One semester you might have a morning class, so you will have to change when you exercise or go to work. Another semester you might have an evening class and you will have to meal prep or change when you study. Be ready to change your routine every few months.
Schedule All Your Important Tasks
The goal of a good routine is to fit all your tasks in and avoid forgetting any of them. To create an effective and efficient routine, you must develop a routine for all of your daily activities. When you wake up, when you go to bed, when you attend classes, when you go to study groups, go to work, have activities, spend time with family, exercise, shop, cook, and clean. You get the picture. I want you to schedule all your important tasks. You can even schedule a time to study and relax if you want.
As you create your routine, you may find it difficult to fit everything in. This is where time management is crucial. Set alarms or notifications to help you manage your time. Your reminders should give you enough time to get ready for the next task without throwing your day off or creating any unnecessary stress.
When you schedule the majority of your day you don’t forget things and you reduce stress. Life is going to happen, and some days things are going to be hectic. Don’t stress out, just go with the flow and get back on track when you can. It’s important for College Students To Take Care Of Their Mental Health so don’t panic when things go off course.
3. Study Smarter
Being a successful student often comes down to organization. The life of a college student is demanding and time-consuming it can be hard to stay organized. Having a system in place for keeping home and school running smoothly is vital to your success.
The best way to stay organized is to take good notes. Take notes physically even if your class allows computers or recorders. Physically writing something down does several things, it keeps a student engaged and it forces you to pay attention to what is being taught. Also, you learn as you are writing. This will also help you, Earn Good Grades.
Your notes can help you remember important information for exams and assignments which you may want to add to your to-do list. I can’t count how many times a professor would mention, “This will be on the test”, “This information is on tonight’s homework” or “This needs to be included in your project”. I would pay special attention to that content, and maybe even ask for clarification or additional information just to be sure I understood it correctly. Then I would jot it down on my to-do list so I would remember.
I liked having my physical notes. However, if you enjoy digital platforms, I suggest looking into a note-taking app. Knowing what note app to use really come down to preference. Here is a list of The Top 5 Note Taking Apps that will make it convenient to write, store and access your notes. One of them is bound to be a perfect fit for you.
Organized Study Space
Having an organized and clean study space will create a productive study environment saving you time and stress. It’s also one of the smartest things you can do as it sets you up to be a successful student.
It’s tempting to set up a study space at the dining room table, in the living room on the couch, or even in your bedroom on the bed. These areas are very distractive and aren’t favorable to learning.
Choose a distraction-free zone that can be dedicated just to studying. Find a spot in your bedroom, home office, or even a quiet nook. Somewhere that’s out-of-the-way. The goal is to keep distractions to a manageable level. Make this spot permanent.
They say, “A cluttered space is a cluttered mind”. I find this very true. I study better when the space around me is clean and organized. Studies have shown that a messy desk prevents productivity and growth, which often makes one feel stagnant. Like your phone and television, clutter can be distracting, you don’t want anything diverting your attention. Your focus needs to be on your studies not on the mess around you.
Only keep on your desk what you use daily. Everything else should be stored until you need it. If you have a bookshelf or whiteboard, these should be kept organized too. Don’t leave old food, drinks, or snack bags around. Organize papers and supplies. Invest in a good desk organizer so things are properly stored, and you don’t have to waste time searching for them. Keep a waste basket close.
My backpack was well stocked when I was in college and yours should be too. Having everything you need with you and at your fingertips will save you time and money. You’ll always be prepared for whatever is required and needed.
Here is a list of backpack essentials for everyday use, Items Every Student Should Have In Their Backpack.