Monday, October 31, 2011

5 Organizational Tips for College

One of the most important ways to keep good grades as a college student is to stay organized.  When you have little time, run on little sleep, and live in a little dorm room, organization can be much more difficult than it was back home.

Here are five things that have helped me to stay organized over the past few months.  They have been life-savers to me and I hope they can help you out too.  If you are in high school, you can begin to use these tricks early on and form a habit.  If you graduated college already, perhaps a few of these tips can help you to stay organized in your day-to-day life.  They've helped me out a lot.

1.) A Daily Planner
A planner is absolutely essential for keeping up with your assignments.  Do not use a pocket-sized planner.  Purchase a notebook-sized planner and keep it in your backpack so you'll have room to write down all of your assignments.  (If you use a planner on your smart phone, that could work too, although I prefer something on paper.)  As soon as you get your syllabuses for your classes (they probably will contain your class assignments somewhere on them) , copy them to your planner so you won't have to keep up with four or five different papers each day.

Use symbols to catch your eye, such as a star for tests, bullet points for projects, and diamonds for reading assignments.  These will help you to know at a glance what you have coming up in the following weeks.  Of course, be sure to write these symbols next to the actual assignment.  The symbols are only to keep you aware of what's going on at first glance.
It may take a while to get the hang of your planner if you haven't used one before, but use it frequently.  Having all of your upcoming assignments and appointments in one place is incredibly helpful.

2.) Post-It Notes
I probably go through at least two packages of Post-It notes a month.  Purchase several different sizes and colors before the semester begins.

I use small Post-It notes to make notes with the date in which I studied a certain topic and completed individual worksheets in a packet.  This way, when I go back to study before an exam, I can study by date and refresh my memory on the things I learned a while back.  I use colorful, regular-sized Post-It notes to mark different class subjects in one notebook or to show what I studied before each test (which ultimately helps with the final exam).  Larger Post-It notes can be used to remind myself of appointments, assignments, and errands I need to run.

I also tend to use Post-It notes for little day-to-day things, like leaving a note for my suite mates when I haven't seen them face-to-face in a while or when I'm trying to memorize a Bible verse.
You can get Post-It notes just about anywhere: Walmart, Office Max, Walgreens, Target... they're very inexpensive and come in all shapes, sizes, and colors!

3.) File Holder
Okay, I feel like a dork saying this, but I'm not exactly sure what this item is actually called.  I do use it on a daily basis, however.  This is basically a portable file cabinet and I've reserved a file for all of my classes.  I keep homework worksheets, notes, handouts, and take-home tests in this file holder so I will not accidentally leave them behind in my dorm room or lose them.

The concept is fairly simple: once you finish using a class paper, put it back in the file holder behind its right tab and then take the file holder with you to your classes.  No more losing papers, leaving them behind in your dorm room, or mixing them up with the wrong classes.  This file holder has helped me a lot with organization and I use it all the time.

I also use a file drawer back in my dorm room for papers that deal with my enrollment, tuition, and things like that.  It is also a handy thing if you are trying to stay organized.

4.) Multiple Backpacks
Yes, I use more than one backpack.  I generally use three backpacks.  One backpack I use during the mornings on Mondays and Wednesdays for my hardest class, math.  It carries my looseleaf paper, a calculator, and the HUGE work packet that comes with the class.  The next backpack I take to class on Mondays and Wednesdays during the afternoon.  This carries my literature books, my notebooks, and my health book.  My final backpack I take to school on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  It holds my notebooks, ASL text books, and Government text book.

Using more than one backpack can help you keep your books organized.  This way, you never have to take your books out and stack them to the side when you aren't using them... and you won't forget to pack a certain book when you go to class.  And if you decide to leave for the library to study, you'll know which backpack to bring.

Using three backpacks has helped me keep my books organized.  The only things that I switch out consistently between backpacks are my file holder and my daily planner.

I've collected the backpacks over time... one is Vera Bradley and a gift from my grandma, one is Swiss Army brand and I got for graduation, and one is Magellan and I got it for my birthday from my parents.

5.) Lists
You might not be a list person.  I am.  Almost every day, right before my first class begins, I make a list titled "Things to Do Today" and sometimes I'll put the date next to the title.  I'll then begin to list out everything I'd like to accomplish for the day, like...

1. Laundry
2. Math homework
3. Test corrections
4. Study for Gov test
5. Meet Stephanie @ 2:30
6. Grab milk from store
7. Clean out Charlie's bowl

See?  I write out the list on a piece of paper, fold it up, and put it in my purse.  I then carry it around throughout the day and each time I accomplish something from the list, I cross it off.  During the weekends, I only make one list for all three days.  The Thursday before, I'll make a long list of everything I need to do over the weekend.

When I make a list for the day, I feel like I have set goals for myself and I now have expectations for the day, so I know what needs to be done before I can relax.  This helps me organize my time, keep a clear head, and then feel accomplished after I look at a list that's been completely checked off.
But then again, I'm a list person. :)

What helps to keep you organized?

1 comment:

  1. I love post it notes! I purchased some extra large ones from my grocery and I have them stuck everywhere, they're great for studying:) I also use a smallish white board to write down important imminent test/due dates