Getting – and Staying – Organized This Semester

Most students want to learn how to stay organized in college so that they excel at studies while not missing out on extracurricular activities.

By Katie Llewellyn

For every minute spent organizing, an hour is earned. -Benjamin Franklin

If organization doesn’t come naturally, don’t worry – you’re not alone.

A nationwide survey commissioned by FileMaker, Inc. found that over half of college students (54 percent) felt they would get better grades if they “got organized and stayed organized.”

Organizing your life and school work will not only help you make better grades, but it can reduce stress, keep you on track with deadlines, and provide you with more free time.

While organization may or may not come easily to you, it is a skill that can be learned and built upon. Here are a few tips to get you started.

Establish a routine

Try to wake up and go to bed at the same time. Designate a night to take care of chores such as laundry or tidying up your living space. Join a study group that meets at the same time each week. By planning out your schedule and sticking to it, you’ll create consistency and become more productive.

Get familiar with your syllabus

Read your syllabus on the first day of class, print it out and make note of each due date in your planner. If you have any questions, talk with your professor. This way, assignments won’t sneak up on you and you will feel much more prepared for the semester ahead.

Have separate binders and notebooks for each class

It may seem easier to just take all your notes for each class in the same notebook, but you’ll have a much easier time keeping everything straight if you have a designated binder and notebook for each course.

Keep all your syllabi, print outs, and assignments in one place and in sequential order so that when the time comes to study, you have everything you need at hand and ready to go.

Index card filers are also a great tool to keep flash cards organized by class.

Use technology to your advantage

Web-based tools and apps such as Quizlet or GroupMe will allow you to share flashcards and study tools with your classmates and communicate about homework and assignments. Find which tools work for you and use them!

If you know that you tend to spend more time on social media than you’d like (or at the expense of your sleep and schoolwork), set a timer to help you keep your scrolling and Snapping in check or use screen-time monitoring apps on your phone.

Set goals

Whether you’re setting out to improve your grades, graduate early or have more time to spend with friends, setting your intentions and then mapping out a plan can keep your goals from becoming mere wishes. Come up with concrete, practical action items and give yourself deadlines by which you should accomplish each.

Prepare ahead

The night before each school day, print out any papers or assignments you may need hard copies of and review the required reading and assignments. Have your course materials, as well as textbooks, computer and phone chargers, and course notebooks ready. This way you can skip the stress of trying to pull everything together at the last minute.