6 steps to getting organized at the start of the semester

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Everyone dreams of a perfectly organized academic routine, yet, as the semester progresses, we start to forget about our assignments and our notes become more and more indiscernible. As it turns out, it might be possible to achieve that dream. Here are a few tips and tricks to help you succeed inside and outside the classroom with relative ease — all semester long.

Invest in a planner

This is an essential part of being organized in college. When it comes to picking out your planner, don’t just go for the cheapest option. Make sure it’s sturdy so it can survive being shifted around in your backpack every day from now until May. Also, make sure the planner covers the dates you need. Some school year planners start in September (thanks, quarter system). To complicate things even further, not every planner is school-specific and will start from January. Finally, make sure the planner is small enough for you to carry around, because you’ll probably take it everywhere you go.

Actually use your planner

As soon as your syllabuses are accessible on bCourses, go through your planner and write down the due dates for papers, projects and midterms. Also, did you buy tickets for the Big Game? Write it down in your planner. Your professor just announced reading for the next lecture? Planner. Rent is due on a certain day? Planner. Even if you think you’ll remember now, there’s always a chance you’ll be swamped and forget later. Get used to checking your planner first thing every morning so you don’t miss anything important that day.

Form habits while it’s easy

When you have a million things to do, you’re not going to want to spend your free time cleaning and organizing your backpack. When you’re in the throes of finals, however, you’ll be glad you did. Nothing wastes time more than trying to find that one thing your professor said that one time in September when your notes are scattered everywhere. If you sort your notes every day when you get home, they will be easily accessible by the time midterms and finals roll around.

Organize your notes

Post-its, flowcharts, arrows and multicolored highlighters are your friends. It sucks to skim your notes for hours just to find three or four terms from the study guide. If you color code your notes, though, it might only take a few moments to find that green-highlighted vocabulary term. As an added perk, people will want you in their study groups when they see how nice your notes look.

Make your work space work for you

If you feel comfortable in your study space, you’re going to be more efficient. If you’re working at home, position your desk near a window so you can use natural light and not strain your eyes as much. Set up your space in a way that makes you feel comfortable, whether that’s with a perfectly clean surface or a lot of desktop trinkets.

If you prefer to study away from home, such as at a coffee shop or a library, find a spot where you can easily arrange your books and have access to an outlet. But no matter where you set up, make sure to distance yourself from distractions. You know yourself best, now put that knowledge to use.

Live by lists

If you can make a list for something, make it. Heading to Trader Joe’s? You’ll save money if you make a list before you go out — not to mention, you’ll avoid overstocking that tiny cupboard of yours. You can even figure out exactly what you need by making a list of your meals for the week, which can save time and money in the store.

Contact Taylor Follett at [email protected].