6 Best Ways to Stay Organized in College
Whether you are a freshman, returning to college, taking online classes, or in grad school, kicking things off on the right foot is an essential step to your college success.
It’s easy to get sidetracked hanging with friends, going to parties, blowing off classes, and ignoring your homework.
In this article, I’ll show you the best ways to stay organized so that if you do tend to slack a bit, these tips will help you stay focused, productive, and successful.
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Why do students need to be organized?
For most people, heading off to college is the first time in their lives, they are on their own.
Mom and Dad are not there to remind you to do your homework.
They’re not there to make sure you attended class.
They’re not there to get you extra help if you need it.
They’re not there to tell you not to spend the entire night drinking at a frat party and to get a good night’s sleep instead.
You have to do all of these things on your own.
This is the first time that you are your own boss! It’s both exciting and scary.
It’s also easy to fall into bad habits if you don’t have a plan.
But you can do it!
Let me start by saying, there’s a misconception that we should be organized by nature.
For most people, being organized is not instinctual; it is a learned skill.
Just as you are at college to learn about your major, you’re also there to learn life skills to become an independent adult and being organized is one of them.
If you set good organizational habits now, they will serve you well for your entire life. These habits will take you from college to career and even spill over to your personal life.
Let’s talk about how you can stay organized in college or uni, not just for the first few weeks but for your entire college career.
You: The Business
As I mentioned above, until this point, your parents have controlled your life. They told you when to wake up, what to eat, bought your clothes, reminded you to do your homework, clean your room, do your chores, and when to go to bed.
Now, it’s all your responsibility.
Let’s pretend YOU are a business.
If you partied all night, ate crappy food, came in late, left the office a mess, chose not to work, and didn’t have goals or a plan, how successful would your business be?
You know the answer, not successful at all. You’d most likely be bankrupt and out of business in a few months.
Running the business of YOU takes practice, hard work, and determination.
You need to take care of yourself, eat healthily, party sometimes (just not all the time), work hard, clean your room, and have goals and plans to be successful.
Organization tips for college students
#1. Set Goals
At the beginning of the semester, take about 30 minutes, and plan your goals.
Write down goals for all areas of your life including, academics, health, finances, hobbies, living environment, socializing, and relationships. Here are some goal layout ideas I wrote about in a previous article.
By writing down your goals, you are more likely to achieve them. We’ll talk about how to put them into action in the next step.
#2. How to Achieve Goals and Be Responsible
With all of these new responsibilities, using a planner or bullet journal provides a place to keep your life organized. It also helps you stay focused on achieving the goals that you just set.
If you need suggestions on planners or bullet journals, you can check out my favorites here.
Take a look at the goals you set. Now, what will it take to achieve those goals?
For example, let’s say one of your goals is to meet new people on campus. Attending social events is an excellent way to achieve that goal. Find out when those events are happening and add them to your planner.
#3. How to Never Miss an Assignment
A college schedule is usually much different from a high school schedule.
College classes tend to be longer and occur once a week or only a few times a week. Professors assign larger projects that are often done independently or in small groups.
Use your planner to schedule when assignments are due as well as blocking off time to efficiently accomplish those assignments.
Be sure to keep all of your assignments and due dates in your planner.
By keeping everything in one place, you’ll have an overview of everything going on in your life at-a-glance. You’ll be much less likely to have missed assignments because the tasks are in one place.
Take your planner to all of your classes so that when a new project and due date gets assigned, you can quickly jot it down in your planner.
#4. How to Up Your Productivity
What if I told you that you can get more done in less time? It is possible!
Basically, the Pomodoro technique recommends you work in 25-minute uninterrupted segments and then take a 5-minute break. Because you have breaks, you’ll be more focused and productive.
“Plan your work and work your plan.” - Napoleon Hill
#5. How to Organize Your Homework
When you were in high school, most of your assignments were kept in a large notebook with dividers to separate each class.
In college, many assignments are written on the computer and emailed to the professor. There may be some work that is done by hand and turned in on paper.
And let’s not forget about taking notes in class. You may take notes on your computer, in a notebook, or on sheets of paper.
That is a lot of stuff for each class that needs to stay organized.
Keep this information organized on your computer, create file folders for each class. Then you can create subfolders for notes and assignments.
Organize papers with a notebook or folder for each subject. That way, materials for each class are easy to grab.
Have a place on your desk for your files, a place for books, and finished assignments.
#6. How to Keep Your Room Clean & Organized
When you lived at home, your room may have gotten so messy that your parents would make you clean your room.
They aren’t at school to make you clean your room (hurray!), but that doesn’t mean you should live in a pig-sty.
In fact, you’ll feel better about yourself and be more productive if you keep your room clean and organized.
Have a weekly cleaning schedule - Whether you live alone or with roommates, it’s helpful to have a cleaning schedule. With roommates, come up with a cleaning schedule and then assign a different task for each roommate every week. If you live alone, pick one day of the week and block out 15-30 minutes to clean.
Pick up after yourself daily - Before you go to bed, take five minutes to clean up. Pick up clothes, put away homework, and tidy up. You’ll wake up to a nice clean room, ready to start the day.
Schedule a laundry day - Choose one day a week to do laundry. By having a weekly schedule, you won’t end up with nothing to wear and an overwhelming amount of laundry to do.
Keep track of your finances - Many parents budget how much money they can send each month for living expenses. If you go out to eat, go shopping, and attend a lot of events, you can burn through money very quickly. Create a budget for yourself by deciding how much money you have to spend on all of these things. Here’s a helpful article I wrote on budget trackers that you can use.