As I am sure most of you are well aware, staying organized in college is kind of like planning a wedding but everyone in attendance is already drunk or high. It doesn’t really matter how hard you try 9 times out of 10 it will probably end up a shit show. Hopefully you will get a piece of paper out of it that will land you a semi decent entry level job. But on a more serious note, college would likely be more manageable to maintain if it weren’t for the endless parties, drinking binges, and romantic complications or dare I say hookups. Because we are all well aware that those extracurricular activities are not going anywhere; how do you stay organized in college?
You likely already know how you best stay organized in some capacity. Part of staying organized is just prioritizing the things that are most important to you. While some people prioritize parties and socializing, others will prioritize getting straight A’s. While prioritizing school is important, also paying attention to what your body needs is crucial to a successful college experience. Prioritizing mental health, exercise, time with family etc. are aspects that should naturally fall into your organizational schedule. While you sort out what experiences you want to create in college let’s get into the best tips for staying organized.
How to Plan
Obviously, the best way to plan for your crazy schedule is with a planner. Some of you can thrive off a very simple planner that has clear guideline. Others will want colorful stickers, pens, motivational quotes, and lots of others fun things jammed into your planner that you will likely spend way too much time on and promptly forget about. While all of that is well and fine, planners can actually be extremely helpful when juggling a crazy course load. Begin by printing or pulling up the rubrics for each class. If you are a color sensitive person, choose one color for each class and write in the planner the corresponding details for that class. Add details for tests, assignment due dates, discussion posts, discussion post responses, midterms, finals, and other important dates. After working through each rubric in the corresponding color you will start to see themes that the professor follows. Gaining an understanding of class themes will help you be successful in the long run.
Post It Note Precision
While planners are very helpful, they don’t always work for everyone. If you are student that loves visuals and happens to have a relatively bare wall. Place some painters tape on the wall in the shape of a T. At the top you can write “To Do” on one side and “completed” on the other. Using a fresh pad of sticky notes, write things that need to be completed for the week. While this takes more time from week to week, it will help you stay on task instead of free falling throughout the semester. Put all the sicky notes on the “to do” side and move them over to the “completed” side. Having a visual representation of the things that need to be done from week to week will help you keep on track. If you are someone who needs to incorporate healthy things in your lifestyle write those on a stick note to in order to keep yourself healthy.
Last Minute Changes
Planners are an amazing step to stay consistent from week to week however they are not the most flexible if there are changes in the plan. Post It notes will be useful if you need to push certain things back to a different week. Due dates can change randomly within classes so having multiple options to stay organized will set you up for success.
Another way to set yourself up for success is to find a place that is clean, quiet, and comfortable. A large amount of work will be done in the classroom but finding a space to study, execute projects, and collaborate with peers is essential to college success. If this space exists within your home, ensure that it is clean. While you might not think that a messy room or office space will impact your concentration it absolutely will. Always keep it as clean and consistent. If you don’t have a quiet space within your house due to siblings, parents, or roommates, find a library, coffee shop, or somewhere where you can conduct your work accordingly.
We have already briefly touched on being precise with what you want to achieve. Everyone that knows anything about college knows that things get dumped on your plate in less than 24 hours. When this happens and it most definitely will, begin to prioritize what needs to happen and when. Start with the classwork that is either most difficult or choose the class that is next up on the schedule. Prioritize the coursework via number and take it step by step. Start your day practicing this activity to be the most productive. When doing this it is tempting to multitask. While sometimes it is useful to multitask, more often than not you will waste time catching up to the section you previously had gone through. A couple things will help you in prioritizing your coursework. Turn on do not disturb on your devices to help you focus and avoid loud noises or people that can distract you.
While school is always important, do not forget to take care of yourself. Sometimes a night out can be more helpful than you might have originally thought. Instead of studying, writing papers, or finishing products all day every day, break up the schoolwork with social activities and things that make you feel happy. College is supposed to be fun. That requires you to remove yourself from the clean and organized bubble you have created for yourself. Physical exercise is a great way to absorb new information while also making you feel more productive. Ask a peer to join you on a walk while decompressing. Complain about your hardest teacher. Don’t forget to live your life while learning new information.