Now I’m no ‘organization expert’ I’m just a student who likes to keep her stuff in order, and this is what I have found works for me.
As Christina Scalise (an actual organization expert) says, “Organization isn’t about perfection, it’s about efficiency, reducing stress and clutter, saving time and money, and improving your overall quality of life.” So use any/all of these tips that you think will best fit you, and feel free to dump the ones that don’t.
tip #1 — use notebooks and/or folders religiously
I organize my notebooks in either one of two ways, depending on how many classes I’m taking…
- If I can get one giant notebook big enough to have one subject per class I’ll do that because it keeps everything contained in one place (ie. the dream).
- If not, I get a notebook for each day that I’m having class (ie. Monday notebook, Tuesday notebook, Wednesday notebook, etc.) and split the subjects into classes that way — this helps me because on Wednesday I don’t really need to bring my Monday notes to class.
For folders I either get a folder for each class (or day if I have a notebook for each day) or I simply stick my papers and handouts in my notebooks as I get them — this second strategy keeps everything in chronological order so I can quickly find the notes that correspond to the handout (and vice versa).
TIP #2 — Use a calendar to manage your assignments
Personally, I use Google Calendar but pretty much any calendar or planner will do (I like my Google Calendar because then it sync across all of my devices, and I can set alerts on my phone, but to each his/her own). As soon as my professor gives me a syllabus with the major assignments scheduled out I input this into my separate “School” calendar on Google.
Typically I will come up with a simple ‘class code’ that I label before the assignments so its easy for me to remember which class a specific assignment is for. Below is an example of what my school calendar looked like last March:
As you can see on the left side I have several other calendars, and I use this similarly for my “Work” calendar, cataloging important deadlines as I get them.
TIP #3 — Use google keep to consolidate all of your ‘sticky notes’
I am the kind of person who remembers things best when I write them down, and Google Keep is perfect for this. Essentially it’s like having virtual sticky notes that you can sync across all your devices. I use this for everything you can think of: to do lists, ideas for blog posts, beginning stages of essays, literally anything you could possibly need a little note for.
This is just a quick and easy way for me to jot down ideas and tasks as they come to me. Additionally, I color coordinate my Keep notes to make it easy to sort and search through. For example, Girls Actually stuff is always red, School stuff is always yellow, To Do Lists are always white, etc.
TIP #4 — Use google drive to store any/all school files
I have been using Google Drive for my school work since I was a junior in high school, and I am obsessed with organizing and maintaining it. In my Drive I have a folder for each school year, then for each semester, then class, and etc. (If this sounds confusing please watch the video that corresponds to this post as I visually go through my Drive folders in it).
You don’t have to be as anal retentive in your folder organization as I am, but it is just a handy way to store things so you can work on them from multiple computers without having to save and download every time.
You can use any other cloud storage platforms as well (ie. DropBox) but most likely you’ll still have to save files before editing which is why Google Drive just happens to be my favorite.
TIP #5 — Use a time tracking software to see how you spend your time.
Using a time tracker is helpful in two ways. First, and more obviously, it helps you see how your really spending your time. Second, it motivates you to stay on task. Because I really want the numbers to be as accurate as possible, once I start logging an activity I am more motivated to stay focused on that one thing (so that my time is really being tracked correctly).
I have used Toggl before for this, because it’s free and simple to use on my Macbook, but I am sure there are loads of other apps out there for you to utilize as well.