Staying organized in university can be a tough thing to get the hang of. You may want to get involved with clubs and extracurriculars, but don’t want your grades to decline because of it. Finding time for all of this can be difficult at first, but good organizational strategies can make all the difference. Here are some ways that I stay organized, despite being a very busy person.
Organize Your Notes and Documents
I made it to my second year of university before I realized I should be organizing my documents into appropriate folders. Once I created a folder for each term of university, with sub-folders for each of my courses, it became much easier to navigate through my documents. Also, make sure to name each of your documents with a title that lets you know exactly what it is. I can’t tell you how many documents I had named “untitled document” that I had to sort through to find what I was looking for. Stay organized so if you ever need to refer back to an assignment, you’ll know exactly where you saved it. If you keep paper notes, organize your notes in a different coloured notebook or binder for each course, so you know exactly where to find your work.
Develop a Routine
It can be very easy to sleep until noon when you don’t have class until 2pm, but then it’s even more difficult to wake up for your 8am class the next day. Although developing a routine with classes scheduled at different times of the day can be tough, I try to get myself into the habit of waking up at the same time every day, regardless of what time I have class. Use the time before your later classes to work on assignments, do some study questions, prep healthy food, or engage in one of your hobbies.
Get a Good Night’s Sleep
I am a completely different person when I get less than 7 hours of sleep a night. I wake up tired and disoriented and don’t feel prepared for the day at all. Something I find very helpful is packing my backpack and lunch the night before, so I can rest easy and sleep in knowing I am already partially prepared for the next day.
Use a Calendar
Using an online calendar has changed my life. I consider myself a chronically busy person, and I used to find it super hard to keep track of assignments, midterms, extracurricular activities, and my social life. I now schedule EVERYTHING into my calendar. It may be a bit meticulous, but it definitely helps me stay organized. With everything scheduled into the same calendar, you can see if things overlap on the same day and adjust accordingly. Have a midterm and 3 assignments due on the same day, but nothing else throughout the week? Plan ahead to have a few things done before the due date.
Keep Track of Due Dates
Something I have recently started doing is making a ‘master course schedule’; a master list of all of the assignments due in each course organized by week. I usually print out this list and put it on my wall, so that on Sunday nights, I can look ahead to see what is due for the entire week, without having to check each individual course syllabus. I also schedule these due dates into an online calendar, so I can easily see the due dates on my phone and laptop, wherever I am. Crossing things off of this master list as they are completed is a huge motivator for goal-oriented people.
Maybe you only need to incorporate 1 or 2 of these things into your daily routine to feel more organized, or maybe you need all of them. I hope these tips help you develop a system of organization that allows you to achieve a healthy school work-life balance.