Tips and tricks to stay organized all semester long
With the semester in full swing you may be feeling a little overwhelmed by the mounting assignments and impending midterms. Is it that time again already? Some of us have just about stamped our way to a free drink at the Freudian Sip just trying to keep up with back-to-back classes and hours of homework.
As we get older we understand the importance organization plays in keeping our day and lives on track. Here’s a few tips to help keep you sane this semester.
1. De-clutter- Studies have shown that a messy work and/or living space can negatively impact our brains capacity to process information. Keep file folders and file away whatever your not using.
2. Manage your time- We often underestimate the amount of time something is going to take us. We put things off until tomorrow that we can do today. Carve out a little time every day, or designate certain days for certain tasks.
Failure to manage time is one of student’s biggest mistakes Journalism Professor Scott Brown says. “Break up tasks over multiple days to help get things done in a timely manner and always give yourself a cushion.”
Give yourself a cushion because you never know what tomorrow will bring. If you think something will take two hours, give yourself four.
Africana Studies Professor Dr. Bernardean Broadous advises what she calls “Psyche scheduling” which means to set and record deadlines in advance of their actual due dates and times.
3. Take good notes- This ties is with time management because the more organized and clear they are, the less time you have to spend trying to figure out what you need to know for that big test.
Changing the fonts and/or using a distinct colored pen can help you retain more information too. So don’t be afraid to get funky with it.
Dr. Broadous recommends getting into the habit of recording everything with good notes, including important phone calls. This comes in handy when dealing with customer service issues when you might need to recall what was said and by whom.
4. Join a study group- These groups can be the difference between an A and a B. Groups hold one another accountable and are good sounding boards.
I used to create quizzes for my group from the material we needed to cover. The random Q & A sessions help a lot too. All of it helps keep it fresh in your mind and you on your toes.
5. Write it down- If you are able to store your list of things-to-do in your head, good for you. If you’re like the rest of us, a physical list is a must. Prioritize your list by keeping the most important things at the top and descend in order of importance.
I will confess, I am one of those people who gets excited about using a new batch of colorful post-its or crossing things off in my customized academic planner by MayDesigns.
6. Know your learning style- Do you like things color-coded? Are you more auditory? It may seem frivolous but knowing your learning style can make all the difference in how you tackle life.
7. Reach out- If you need help with something don’t be afraid to ask. Professors, bosses etc appreciate when you come to them. They are wells of information and keep your efforts in mind come grading time.
8. Stay active- The best way to clear your mind and keep your energy is to stay active. You don’t have to run a marathon (unless that’s your thing), a simple lap around the building or a gym class can work wonders.
Recent CSUN graduate and Public Relations major Emily Olson said going out for a walk or yoga classes helped free up space in her mind when she was mentally exhausted.
“If you’re stuck trying to come up with something it usually helps if you step away,” she said. “It will free space up for more ideas.”
9. Use your smart phone- One my my favorite apps is the voice notes because it allows me to record notes of any length for myself and/or send them to others. I also put things in my phones calendar and set two reminders one right before I’m supposed to do the task and one anywhere from 2-24 hours ahead so that it’s on my mind.
There are a lot of apps that can help you better navigate through the semester and life in general. Even better is the fact that a lot of them are free. Yay for saving money! We’re starving students after all.
10. Prepare ahead- Do you hit the snooze button 5 times before you finally get out bed in the morning? I can’t tell you how many mornings I’ve laid there and gone through all of the things I could cut out of my routine that would give me another 5 or 10 minutes of sleep, but then my morning is backed up and I wish I’d had those extra minutes.
Some things you could do the night before:
· Make a list of things that need to be tackled the next day/week
· Lay out your clothes
· Pack your bag
· Check email (Do this in the morning too. Nobody likes showing up to an early morning class to find out it was cancelled).
Remember, organization isn’t a phase; it’s a conscious choice and lifestyle. There are a multitude of resources out there to help you make the best use of your time and energy. Don’t stress. Get organized.