Tips for Getting Organized this Semester

Have you vowed to start the next semester organized, and to stay that way? Getting and staying organized is a key component of keeping up with your schoolwork, job, and social life. The question is, how do you accomplish this goal? Here are a few organizational tips that are easy to implement, and sure to help you keep it together the entire semester.

1. Know Your Body Clock

There are certain times of the day during which you are going to feel more alert, and other times when you are going to have less energy. Know when your up and down times are, so that you can plan to study and perform other intensive tasks when you are at your most awake and energetic. This way, you can take care of less strenuous tasks when you are feeling a little bit sluggish, or ideally, relax during those times.

2. Put Things Where they Belong as Soon as You Get Home

When you get home at the end of the day, it can be extremely tempting to put your backpack, purse, papers, mail, etc. down on the first flat surface you see, just so you can rest for a few moments. You tell yourself that you’ll sort everything and put it away in a little bit. Unfortunately, more often than not, that never happens. Then, the next morning you’re rushing to find what you need and get everything together. After you get home, take time to do the following before you let yourself sit down:

-Open your mail and put any bills into their designated place

-Pull all the folders and books you need for the nights homework and place them on your desk

-Pitch anything that needs to go in the trash

-Pick up any litter lying about


3. Standardize Your Note Taking Methods

One problem many students have when it comes to taking and organizing notes is that they don’t have a consistent method. There are many different note taking tools that you can learn about on the internet. There are also several free apps that allow you to take notes, save them, and organize them. Select a note taking app or method and commit to using it for all of your classes. Remember that it can take time to adjust to a new method, so give yourself a couple weeks to adapt before you decide to change yet again..

4. Calendars are Your Friend

Google calendar or a free calendar app is a great way to keep track of upcoming tasks, appointments, and due dates. You can even use a calendar app to send you reminder notes. Keep your calendar updated on a regular basis, and you’ll never forget about a due date or an appointment. If you need to be “old-school,” put a monthly calendar on your wall above your desk — some people need to see the entire month as a whole, and this is a good strategy.

5. Be as Paperless as Possible

The more paperwork that you have to store, organize, and deal with, the more likely you are to lose something important. Make arrangements to pay your bills online whenever possible. If you are given the option to receive statements or notices of any sort by email, instead of snail mail, always take that option. Then, sort through the papers that you do have. Shred them if you don’t need them, and scan them and store them on a drive if you do. The time for clutter is really over, and our trees will thank you.

6. Get Ready for Morning Before You go to Bed

Remember when your mom used to lay out your clothes for you before you went to bed? She was kind of on the right track. You may not need to pick out your clothes if you are just going to class — most students have stacks of jeans, sweats, and t-shirts and can pull any one of each off to get dressed. But, if you have all of your books and devices ready to go, you won’t forget something you really need. And if you are not human without your coffee “fix,” get the pot ready the night before.

7. Clean up Your Email

Nothing is worse than a cluttered inbox. Go through your emails and delete anything that you no longer need. After this is done, take an hour to unsubscribe from all of the junk mail that you receive. Finally, create some new folders and update your filters. This way, you can send emails to specific folders if you don’t want to deal with them right away. And you’ll be so proud of yourself!

8. Purge

Nothing helps you to stay organized more than committing to minimalism. Go through your belongings. If anything doesn’t fall under one of the following categories, donate it or throw it away:

- Functional

- Beautiful

- Beloved

9. Eat Breakfast Daily

When you skip breakfast, you’re setting yourself up to feel sluggish and cranky before noon. Sluggishness is the enemy of organization. Why? Because, when your energy drops, the last thing you want to do is take time to sort, clean, or put things away. Throwing together a quick breakfast isn’t difficult. A hardboiled egg and an apple, a cheese stick and a banana, or a container of yogurt with fruit stirred in are all excellent breakfasts.

by Pat Fredshaw