By Izzy Rubin, Intern.
The best way to get on track for the semester is by knowing your current habits, strengths, and weaknesses. Is your backpack a black hole for folders and papers? Try binders. Do you lose track of time easily? Set daily alarms. Do you have trouble remembering due dates? Use a planner. Self-awareness will help you choose an organization plan that works for you. Figure out your current habits, and target what you could improve.
Be Ahead of the Game
Try to organize your calendar, papers, and supplies as early as you can. How and where will you store your papers and books? Consider making a folder on your computer for each class instead of having individual files scattered throughout. If you already have a system in place at the start of the semester, you will be ahead of the game and won’t have to play catch-up.
Get a Planner
There is too much to keep track of in college without a calendar or a planner. Forgetting about assignments and appointments is costly to your academic performance and overall well-being. Write assignments, chores, meetings, social events, club responsibilities, and anything else you need to do in your planner. Having everything written in one place will give you an idea of how to structure your day to make it as productive as possible.
See the Big Picture
While planners help with day-to-day tasks, a separate monthly calendar will help you see the big picture. At the beginning of the semester, gather your syllabi and mark big assignments (projects, exams, and essays) in your calendar. Don’t forget to mark events for your clubs or important personal events. What weeks look busier? Knowing ahead of time that you’ll be traveling the weekend before a term project is due will help you manage your time to do your best work.
Do the Little Things
Staying organized takes effort, but in the long run, you’ll improve your grades and state of mind. Place papers in their proper folders in your backpack. Save downloaded documents to the correct class folder. Organize all of your materials before going to bed each night. Set electronic calendar reminders for appointments. The little things you do for yourself now will prevent you from being overwhelmed later.
University of Michigan’s Advice on Keeping Planners
Cornell’s Time Management Resource