First things first, organization requires motivation. You can’t expect to be organized if you don’t put your mind to it. This school year, change your mindset. Approach the new semester with the philosophy that a clean space makes a clear head. Here are eight easy ways to maintain a more organized, structured lifestyle.
1. Actually Use Your Planner
With each new school year, I always buy a planner and claim that I’ll use it. After a week of classes, that planner usually gets abandoned. When I actually remember to update my planner, I have to admit, they’re very helpful. Planners are an essential tool for organization. They can help you keep track of all your assignments, habits, and events, eliminating any confusion on what you have to do that day. I probably didn’t need to explain that to you, but sometimes, I need to remind myself to look at my schedule. Keep one in your backpack or tote bag at all times—you’ll thank me later.
2. Establish A System For Notes
Always know what to expect when looking at your lecture notes. Don’t spend time searching through your notebook for the answer to a question—eliminate the stress by color-coding. I try to write vocab words and definitions in one color, important facts in another, questions I have in another, and so on. When you get into the habit of color-coding, note-taking will become a lot easier. Of course, color-coding also helps with organization, making your notes more legible and visually pleasing. In addition to color-coding, it helps to include headings and subheadings in your notes. Vary up your font choices and text sizes to make each heading striking.
3. Have A Weekly Cleaning Sesh
Choose one day out of the week to dedicate for cleaning. “Cleaning” can be physical or mental. If you want to organize your space, spend the day doing laundry, taking care of dirty dishes, and getting your room in order. I find these types of days strangely therapeutic, especially when I get to see the final product: a spotless, fresh-smelling dorm room. In terms of mental organization, you can reserve the day to care of your personal wellbeing. Treat yourself to a spa day, or take yourself on a walk through the park. Like I said before, organization derives from a positive mindset. If you’re not feeling your best, you might project your feelings outwardly, spiraling into disorder. It’s important to listen to your needs.
4. Buy One Thing, Throw Out Another
My shopping policy is: if I buy something new, I have to throw out something old. There’s a system to what I toss. I won’t throw something out for the sake of it being old; if I don’t wear it or use it frequently, I can live without it. This habit has helped me free up space in my closet. It’s also given me the chance to donate some of my clothes to thrift stores, like Goodwill and Savers. The same rule applies for books. I tend to hoard books, so whenever I purchase a new one, I’ll donate another I didn’t enjoy. Hopefully someone will enjoy it more than I did!
5. Create A Chore Chart
Remember those chore charts you used when you were a kid? They’re just as relevant now as they were then. If you have multiple roommates, I recommend creating a chore chart. With a chore chart, you can evenly divide work around the house. Everyone gets a task that they have until the end of the week to complete. Whoever finishes their chores first gets a reward (alcohol is a good incentive). The best way to make a chore chart is by using a white board. Hang it on your fridge so your roommates won’t miss it.
6. Meal Prep
Before the start of any week, it’s important to prep your meals. Meal prep will help you when you grocery shop. When you know ahead of time what you’ll cook, you’ll spend less money on random, impractical ingredients. Plan out at least three meals you’ll make each week. I know how hard it is to cook in college, with what little access you have to a kitchen. That said, make your meals simple. Burrito bowls are to make from a dorm room; all you have to do is chop up your veggies, throw in some microwaveable protein, and top with hot sauce or sour cream. Pasta is another safe bet, as I’m sure you know already. Make sure you bring reusable containers with you to school. That way, you can make multiple dinners out of one dish.
7. Make A Daily To-Do List
Where would I be without my daily to-do lists? To-do lists are my holy grails of organization. Making lists every night helps me keep the next day in order. As I fall asleep, I mentally prepare myself for what’s to come. There’s no right way to make a daily list of goals. I prefer to write them in the notes app on my phone. Before I go to bed, I close my phone on that tab. That way, when I wake up, I’ll remind myself of what I need to do. Typically, I’ll divide my list into three sections: morning, afternoon, and night. I also like to capitalize urgent to-dos, just so I won’t forget them. The most satisfying part is checking errands off. Maybe I’m Type A, but that gives me such a massive rush of serotonin.
8. Nail Down Your Goals
At the start of a new semester, you need to set your intentions. It’s necessary to establish both long-term goals and short-terms goals. For short-term goals, focus on what you want to accomplish that week. Say you want to meet someone new, or you want to have a successful move-in day. However you define your short-term goals is up to you. I like to conceptualize my long-term goals on Pinterest. Having a visual aid will motivate you to achieve your goals, as well as give you a greater sense of what you want. Maybe you want to graduate with a 4.0, or maybe you want to land an internship by the end of the year. Again, it’s up to you to determine what your dreams are.
Getting organized isn’t as difficult as you think. Treat the new semester as a fresh start. I know you’ll kill it this year!
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Feature image source: https://pin.it/2not6Oa
Hi everyone! My name is Jill, and I'm a senior at Trinity College in Hartford, CT. There, I'm studying creative writing and sociology, with plans to work in publishing. Aside from reading and writing, I enjoy traveling and practicing self-care. If you want to connect, follow my Instagram @jillschuck!