The best organizational hacks for a successful semester

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

What did I do wrong? you wonder, as you watch the conglomeration of deadlines and assignments that all seem to fall on the same week. The funniest part about it is that you thought you had it all planned out – you had the cute diary, the whiteboard, even the color-coded highlighters. I know that feeling well. Organization is easy for the first few weeks of school, but everything gets more scattered as life gets busier. Organization is most helpful in the middle of the semester when you’re overwhelmed with homework because it helps you save time, ease stress, and feel accomplished. Here are 10 tips for sustainable yet easy ways to get organized and stay that way.

1. Get a pocket diary and write everything inside.

The most effective way to stay organized with planners is to buy a planner that’s easy to keep with you, so you can always refer to it. The second step is to gather all your programs and write your deadlines in your calendar. Although it might take an hour, it’s worth it and worth it because rather than constantly updating your planner, you can just write all the dates first and see what your months and weeks look like. This gives you a better idea of ​​the “crucial” weeks and less busy weeks, allowing you to plan accordingly.

2. Find a quick and efficient way to take notes and stick to it.

The second piece of advice I wish I had heard before entering college is to find a note-taking system that doesn’t take too much time (we all know people who spend hours decorating their notes but suffer academically ) nor too chaotic. Personally, I prefer to take all my notes in a standard bulleted format with subheadings of the most important topics. Then I go through those notes and highlight the parts that I have trouble remembering. Find what works best for you and stick with it.

3. Keep to-do lists, but be aware that they can change throughout the day.

As a type A person, I love to-do lists. They help me feel accomplished, track my progress, and stay motivated. Despite their effectiveness, to-do lists can become inhibiting if you use them too strictly. For example, when I didn’t complete my to-do lists, I became less energetic and unmotivated. That’s why to-do lists are useful, but only if you accept that things might change. They are not static lists.

4. Schedule a cleaning day for each week and regularly use this time to clean.

Unfortunately, cleaning is part of everyday life and is necessary to maintain a sense of control over your workspace. I find it very difficult to stay on course with my cleaning if I leave it to the whims of the week, because often I find something more important and I put off the cleaning (i.e. never). However, if you select a cleaning day each week, it makes it harder to set it aside and helps you plan other important things around your cleaning.

5. Start planning your homework a few weeks in advance.

This is definitely the trick I’m having the most trouble with. Even though your professors will give you a “final” deadline, I find it extremely helpful to break my assignments down into component parts, giving myself five days to a week to complete each part. Obviously it depends on the value of an assignment and how long it takes to complete it, but generally I start my big assignments three to four weeks in advance and the smaller ones one to two weeks later. advance. This gives me time to schedule my own deadlines, like “first paragraph due” and “work cited due”. This tactic not only keeps you on track, but it also helps you feel accomplished and motivated as you complete each segment of your project. Plus, it gives you plenty of time to ask questions and double-check your work while avoiding spending eight hours on it in a day.

6. Track your readings by selecting a time when you will “read” that day.

As an English major, I read a lot – I’m talking about two or three novels coming out in a week. In order to manage busy reading (or homework) schedules, it is necessary to set aside time for them even if you have other homework to do. I find it’s more helpful to pick a time of day to read (for me it’s around 8-11am) and stick to that schedule. This helps you stay focused on the readings because falling behind will hurt you more in the end.

7. Don’t put off your first drafts overnight and worry about their quality.

This goes along with tip #5. When setting your own deadline to complete a first draft of a project, don’t spend hours trying to make it perfect. This was a hard skill for me to learn because I’m a perfectionist, but it’s much more effective to write a first draft (even an imperfect one) and then revise, revise, and revise! It allows you to release all those amazing ideas you have, since you don’t care about grammar, quotes or other aspects. It also helps you pump out homework faster because, as anyone who writes will tell you, you can spend hours and hours thinking about writing but doing nothing. In the end, a flawed draft is better than no draft.

8. Remove/limit social media during your school time.

I discovered that I was spending a lot of time on social media during the school year, which was wasting my time but also not making me feel good about myself. The advantage of social networks is that you control the frequency of use of these applications. Most (if not all) iPhones let you set time limits for apps, and there are even apps that will remind you when you need to get rid of them. Or, if you want to take more extreme measures, delete these apps from your phone! You’ll still have your accounts, but you can spend your breaks on more fulfilling activities.

9. Take breaks when you need them and plan your week around them rather than avoiding them.

This is probably the most important tip. Staying organized means staying calm and avoiding late-night panics, so planning your breaks is important. Before, I thought breaks were just a waste of time, but later found that when I planned my breaks, I often got things done faster and more efficiently because I knew I had to get out. with my friends or watch a movie with my family. . These are not only more effective, but they help you feel better and restore your spirit to prevent burnout.

10. Schedule A soothing nighttime routine that makes you feel good.

My favorite time of day is at night. I can change into comfy pajamas, do a face mask, and go to bed. I find most college students (myself included) find it difficult to schedule long breaks into their day, but nighttime routines are easy and calming and often take no longer than 15 minutes. It’s also a great way to tell your body that you’re going to sleep and relax after a hectic day. I recommend trying herbal teas, clay masks or meditation.

College will always be hectic and unpredictable, but you can control some aspects of it. Being a good student relies more on organization and study habits than on innate intelligence (which I would argue is a subjective and incredibly flawed social ideal). The most important thing to remember from this list is that the little things you do affect your whole life and can make you feel better. Doing well in college isn’t just about succeeding academically, it’s also about cultivating a nurturing, organized lifestyle that makes you proud of your accomplishments and motivated to learn.

Aubrey L. Morgan