You have gone to all of your classes and received all of your syllabuses. Now what do you do?
As a college student, it is really important to keep on top of assignments and exams. But when there is so many classes to keep track of, how do you keep it all straight? As a returning student, I’ve got tons of tips on how to get organized and stay organized for the semester.
1. Clean it all out.
For me, organizing my school supplies is the first big step in getting ready for the semester. I test all of my pens and highlighters to make sure they work and then put them in a shared space with my pencils. I put all of my loose leaf paper in binders and label all of my notebooks and folders. This helps me make sure I am always prepared for my classes and sets my mind at ease.
PRO TIP: Pack your backpack for the next day the night before. Put all your notebooks, pencils, and lab manuals in there before crawling into bed and the next morning will be a breeze.
2. Buy a planner.
There are soo many different options when it comes to getting a planner. If you have used a planner in the past, then buy one that has worked for you. If you are new to the wonderful world of planners, look for a planner that has both monthly and weekly pages. There are multiple sizes, colors, and set ups to choose from!
PRO TIP: Don’t buy the first planner you pick up. Look through a couple different planners and see if there is a style you like best. Each planner is different in its own way and it takes time to decide what may work for you.
3. Copy down assignments/exams from your syllabus, one at a time.
After receiving a syllabus, I take a highlighter and quickly skim through the schedule portion and highlight all of the assignment due dates, homework due dates, or quiz and exam dates. When I have time later, I write all of these due dates down in the monthly calendar area of my planner. Going one syllabus at a time helps me stress less and feel less cluttered.
PRO TIP: Highlight from the date your exam/due date is on all the way through the end of the assignment title. This way, there is little chance of you reading the due date wrong and putting it down on the wrong date.
4. Color code.
Color code EVERYTHING. Splurge and get yourself a new set of pens, pick a color for each class, and write in all of your due dates in that color. This helps me organize my brain so that when I see an orange assignment due date, I know what class it is for. If all your assignments are in black, you will have to label them with the class name too. This takes up extra space, whereas colors keep it simple. It also brightens up my calendar!
PRO TIP: Use a color for all of your meetings, club activities, and/or extracurriculars. They can all be one color or a separate one for each of those too, but it will help keep you organized on that front too.
PRO PRO TIP: Use red for your exams!! Red stands out in your brain more so it’ll stick out on your calendar. You’ll never miss studying for an exam this way.
5. Make weekly to-do lists AND daily to-do lists.
Every Sunday night, I look at my monthly calendar and see what I’ve got going on this week. From here I make a master list of all of the assignments, chapters, or quizzes I have to complete by the end of the week. After this, I go through each day and write down things that have to get done that day. If I have a reflection due Wednesday, I write it down for Tuesday. Chemistry assignment due Friday night? It goes on Thursday’s list.
PRO TIP: Write 3-5 things down on your To-Do list each day. Prioritize those things and complete them. If you can add more, great, but start small and don’t overwhelm yourself.
6. Have multiple calendars or calendars in multiple places.
Being able to access my calendar from multiple places has become extremely helpful in my daily life. I have a planner where I keep my monthly schedule as well as my To-Do lists, but I also utilize the calendar app on both my computer and my phone. There are many different calendar apps you can use, but I like Google Calendar. You can download it on your phone and your laptop, making your daily schedule easily accessible at any time! Write in your classes, meeting times, when you want to go to the gym- you name it.
PRO TIP: Use at least 2 different types of calendars. One should be a planner, where you write in your due dates and your exams, and the other a daily schedule, such as Google Calendar. As you get busier and schedule more things, it will get harder to keep track of. A daily schedule will save you.
To learn about other calendar apps, click here: https://zapier.com/blog/best-calendar-apps/
7. Utilize your devices!
Your laptop and/or phone have hundreds of resources readily available to you. Use them. Phones have access to apps such as Reminders, Notes, Office365, Quizlet, etc. to keep you organized AND to help you study. For those with a Macbook, the Sticky Notes app is super convenient. You can pull up a sticky note and keep it in the corner of your home screen as a reminder of what you need to do every time you open your laptop.
PRO TIP: Don’t pay for an app when you can find a free version. There are so many free versions of organizational apps, don’t waste your money.
I hope these tips help!