How to Be Organized in College

Transitioning into college can be a difficult adjustment for many people. Being successful in high school does not automatically guarantee success in college. Staying organized in college can require effort, but it is simple with a few adjustments. Here are some ways to remain organized in college.

Use a planner: digital or paper.

My planner helps me organize and prioritize my time. I write down appointments, meetings, events, homework, and even weekend plans. One thing that helps me feel accomplished with is checking off or crossing off tasks when I finish them. I prefer paper planners, because I am able to pull it out and write down assignments during class when they are given. Having a digital to-do list on Evernote or Wunderlist might work for you as well. When I’m in a pinch and I don’t have my planner with me, I use the built-in Reminders app on my iPhone, which works well.

Keep your desk neat and have a place for everything.

It is hard to work at a messy desk space. Keep your desk organized with pencil cups, and compartments for the things you need. I have a desk organizer where I separate pens, pencils, and highlighters. I also make sure there is enough space in my top drawer for my laptop for when I need to clear my laptop from my desk and do readings or problem sets.

Have sticky notes near your desk or keep a “reminder notebook.”

I have a sticky note dispenser near my desk in case I suddenly get struck with an idea for a blog post, a task I have to do, or a mini shopping list. I also have a mini notebook that I keep in my backpack at all times to take notes at school events or if I have a random burst of inspiration. Having a way to write down your ideas is an important way to stay organized.

Use a dry-erase wall calendar and different colored markers to schedule appointments.

My dry-erase wall calendar has been a godsend over the past two and a half years of my college life. I also bought a pack of fine tip, multi color dry erase markers so that I can color code my commitments. I use different colors for tests, due dates, meetings, appointments, school events, debate tournaments, research or conferences, and more. Having my commitments laid out in a monthly calendar is extremely useful for visualizing my priorities.

Organize your files using an expandable file (aka accordion folder).

Organizing your homework by class is an important skill. You can also accomplish this by having separate folders for each class or a tabbed binder. However, with an expandable file, all my classes can be separated but are still in one folder that I can just throw in my backpack. When the expandable file gets too heavy, I clear it out and put the old papers in a different folder that I place in the “Semester Box.” Which brings me to my next point…

Get a “Semester Box”

I have one box where I put my textbooks and old files for the current semester so that everything I need is easily accessible. I “shelve” the books within the box using a bookend, and in the back I place old files for the semester and things I might need from previous classes that will help me during this semester. I also have separate folders for my commitments: debate and research.

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