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Staying organized in college is one of the best ways to succeed! Let me give you 25 of the most effective tips on how to stay on top of things in college!
Staying organized in college has honestly helped me so much as a student. I’m not going to lie, my first semester was hard.
It took a while for me to adjust to being an organized college student with limitless freedom. I could walk out of class and a professor wouldn’t say anything, go eat at the union instead of study, or simply hang out with people anytime I want.
Being organized in college is almost a chore. If you are not used to forming habits or being organized in high school, then it will be a challenge. It was especially a challenge for me due to being one of those students who barely studied and still got an A back in high school. Learning how to plan out my semester and keep up with assignments and tasks was vital for my grades.
Why Being Organized in College is Important?
It’s important for us, college students, to stay organized because it is so easy to get lost in being active in organizations, going to class, and trying to maintain a social life. We often believe that we can conquer an assignment the night before and be fine. Also, class assignments vary from tests, exams, and labs. We’re not in high school anymore where it’s the same formula for each grade and know how the teachers form their test. It takes time and dedication to earning a decent grade in college.
I eventually had to learn how to set up a college planner, how to organize for each class I took, and the best way to organize in college without taking up too much time. As a senior, I can proudly say that my organization skills have improved greatly with these tips!
25 Effective Tips on Staying Organized in College:
1. Buy a planner
In my opinion, the best way to organize for college classes is to purchase a planner. Planners are VITAL in college. Almost everyone I know has one either virtual or one they can write in. Planners are already set up for you to write down your tasks. There is no need to print one out or create one. It’s all there for you.
I’ve been planning my college semesters out with an 18-month Ban.do planner. Ban.do has been my choice for planners since I was a junior in high school. Not only do they provide sufficient space for your tasks, but stickers, cute art, and also self-care tips.
BUY MY EXACT PLANNER:
2. Write everything down
Although planners are my favorite way to stay organized, you can just buy it and think it’s going to miraculously make you organized. You have to actually WRITE TASKS DOWN. So many people I know buy planners, but don’t actually plan. Write down anything you need to complete and draw a line through them whenever you finish them.
3. Download productivity apps
Some of my favorite productivity apps include Flora and Forest. These apps allow you earn virtual rewards for staying off your phone and complete a task. I currently use Flora and grew virtual flowers while I write! Find a productivity app that rewards you or find one that reminds you of tasks. The App Store has a category dedicated to just productivity!
The best apps to stay organized in college include Flora, Forest, any calendar app, and Quizlet.
4. Use a timer
If you are someone who tends to work for hours and hours on end, you might want to try using a timer to avoid burn out. It also helps if you have a hard time getting started with your work. I recommend downloading a Podomoro Timer or using some on YouTube.
The only thing about the Podomoro Timer is that it sometimes stops abruptly for me. I use it during days I need to work on tasks in pieces and need some motivation. I don’t like it when my 25 minutes are up and I’m in the zone writing an essay. It’s better for studying for exams or for long hours.
5. Plan ahead
Each week I write down what assignments are due this week. It takes around 10-15 minutes. Plan out how you are going to work on a project before the professor mentions it. Write an outline a week before an essay is due. Get your clothes ready the night before school. Get ahead on readings.
6. Keep your workspace clean
Honestly, this one tip that I need to implement more into my college organization. I tend to eat and drink at my desk a lot and crumbs get everywhere.
There is a chance that you will feel overwhelmed with a cluttered desk, so try to keep it clean and organized as much as possible.
7. Get enough sleep
Going to bed and getting enough sleep is one of the easiest ways to stay on top of things in college. You have no idea how great it is having enough sleep and waking up on time feels. I recommend finding out how many you actually need to function. Some people need six hours of sleep while others need eight hours.
Another tip is to get enough sleep. Try not to oversleep or lay in bed too long. Oversleeping can result in you becoming sleepy again.
8. Become motivated
There are so many college motivational videos on YouTube that hype students up. Keeping up with the hard workload is hard. Find yourself a motivational channel or a few videos to hype you up for studying.
9. Learn how to plan a semester in college
Like I mentioned before, I plan out my schedule each week. But before that, I plan any student organization meetings I have that week, any assignments when to work on each assignment, and any due dates or time-sensitive tasks that I have to do (e.g. internship deadlines, free stuff on campus, etc.)
How to Plan your Semester:
- Spend Sunday or Monday to organize your week.
- Start by opening up your planner, any syllabi you have, class modules online, and your email.
- Get a colored pen for each task. (E.g. for my social media class, I have a pink pen. For my music theory class, I use a light green pen.)
- Find what is due on Monday, then write it down in a specific color. (E.g. If I have a quiz on Monday in music theory class, I’ll write it down on Monday in a green pen.)
- Repeat for each class, club, job, errand, etc.
10. Don’t wait until the due date
I used to have a high school teacher who used to say, “The due date isn’t the do date.” She literally hung it up on a wall and made everyone read it.
But seriously in college, the due date is definitely not the day you should start something. College classes are denser than high school classes. No matter how easy a class may be, don’t wait until the last minute to do something. Try to knock out most of the assignments throughout the week in small chunks.
11. Keep your syllabi
Never ever throw away a syllabus! Don’t delete it from your computer either. Syllabi are the backbone of each class. Professors did not spend hours writing them for you to throw it away in the trash can. Looking at your syllabus is one of the simplest ways of staying organized in college.
Your syllabus has everything you need to know about the class and when assignments are due. Most professors will read it on the first day of school then won’t mention it again. They expect you to refer back to the syllabus for assignments and tests. Checking your syllabus will become a habit for you to stay organized!
12. Pay attention in class
One of the best tips for staying organized in college is to pay attention in class. When you pay attention in class, you are more like to remember certain things and won’t have to study so hard.
13. Write down MAJOR assignments
Even if you are not a planner person or want to have a calendar, at least write midterms, finals, and other important things down SOMEWHERE. The typically major assignments are midterms, finals, any test that is worth more than 15%, projects, and presentations.
14. Write a to-do list every day
Do you ever have days where you feel like you have a thousand things to do and don’t know where to start?
Well, try to write down a few tasks to complete that are the most important.
Every day I try to write down 3-4 tasks to complete that day. It could be something like “Wash hair,” “drink water,” or something related to school. It really is one of my best ways to stay organized in college without working so hard. I dedicate myself to those few tasks and I often feel accomplished after.
15. Maintain a self-care schedule
Having some alone time or just a break without any tasks to do is one of the ways I maintain my sanity in college.
You should allot some time to some kind of self-care. College self-care varies from person to person. It honestly does. Some people hate doing face masks, some people might want to speak to a therapist or counselor, and some people just want to nap and watch Netflix.
Just decide sometime to do nothing and do something you like. Have some time for yourself.
Bonus: How To Stay Organized in College Online Edition
In 2021, it’s clear that online class is going to continue being the norm for students. Online classes have changed how we focus and complete our work. It looks easier to take online classes, but it turns out it’s pretty hard. Honestly, I underestimated how difficult online classes are. But luckily, I learned how to study and stay organized for online college classes two semesters ago before it became a norm.
16. Create a space just for studying
One of the most suggested tips for staying organized in online classes is to have a designated space for just studying—nothing else. I’ve watched several YouTubers and read several articles that suggest this.
Personally, I find this hard because I live in a small apartment and most study rooms are occupied. Then, I’m too cautious to go to a cafe or library right now.
So, I block any distractions during a set period of time. For example, I might need to work on a paper and I’ll write for an hour and a half at my desk. I’ll take breaks in between, but I don’t move anywhere else until I’m done.
17. Keep a separate file for each class
On my laptop, I have a class only for my classwork with a designated file for each class. Every time I have to download an assignment I put that assignment into its class’s folder instead of leaving it in my downloads. It helped me stay on top of things in college for sure.
18. Be ahead of your schedule
I know I suggested this tip to stay organized in college earlier, but for online classes, it is important to know when something is due weeks before. Be prepared and ready for it.
19. Utilize your bookmarks
Command + D is one of the easiest tips for staying organized in college right now. Bookmark any page that you visit often. It will go to your bookmarks bar which allows you to have easy access to any webpage you save.
One thing I suggest is bookmarking any Google Hangout, Zoom link, or class module pages. Learn from me. I literally am late so many of my Zoom classes because (I’m cooking) or hunting down a link to open my Zoom class.
20. Find out your peak productive time
Find what time of the day is your most productive time.
Are you like me and start falling asleep during siesta time (2-5pm)?
Or you can’t do anything before 10am?
Each of us has a specific time when we are able to be the most productive. I work best in the morning before eating and after getting ready.
21. Still use a notebook
I do not take notes on my computer that much anymore (unless my professor provides powerpoints that they created specifically for the class.) Any time I have to take notes from a lecture, I use a notebook because it will help me remember better. Writing my notes down also helps me memorize and be more prepared for quizzes and exams.
22. Print that syllabus
Print out your syllabus and keep track of it. I found it easier to have my syllabus out on paper compared to searching through my files. The only downside of this is when professors update the schedule and syllabus. However, you can write on the syllabus and make adjustments.
23. Ask professors if something is glitching, confusing, etc.
I’m about to be VERY blunt:
If your professor is being a complete asshole about due dates, classwork, etc. during this time period, then they suck.
We are currently in a global pandemic and in a weird time right now. Honestly, schoolwork is hard for most students to get through right now. Your professor should have some lenience right now.
Anyway, ask your professors if anything is off or glitching online. If there is supposed to be a file uploaded to the class module and it’s not there, ask them. If you are overwhelmed with something, let them know. Communicate with your professor. Ask them for help.
24. Take breaks away from the computer
One of the most important tips on staying organized in college with online classes is to take a break from the computer.
Yes, I’m going to make a Hamilton reference.
Seriously, take a break from your computer, phone, TV, and anything with a screen. Go outside. Give your eyes, brain a break, and your back a break from sitting down for so long.
25. Maintain a “normal schedule”
Finally, one tip for staying organized in online classes is to make your schedule as close to “normal.” I know that it’s been almost a year since the world turned upside down and normal is no longer a thing. But try to create a schedule that fits whatever you find normal.
This blog post taught you 25 tips on how to stay organized in college!
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