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Organized Chaos: College Edition

· Freshman Year

Even before walking onto campus my first semester I knew I had to get organized. With four classes, and numerous deadlines things were bound to get messy. Early on I developed a plan of attack that seems to be working out for me. While most of my classmates seem to rely heavily on their phones and other digital components I go truly old school with a paper planner. Although if you search "paper planner" on Googley you will see I am not such an anomaly. They are everywhere. Spiral ones, bound ones, pocket ones, desk sized ones, black and white, colorful, weekly, daily, monthly. The list goes on. Fortunately I found a planner that works really for me. The Passion Planner. Their tagline is "more than just a planer" and they mean it. Part journal, part sketchbook, part therapist this thing has it all. I started out using the weekly version, but I was finding that I needed more space on the daily so I switched over to that version. The planner plays a very important role in my college life along with these few other tips:

1) I put all important dates and deadlines into the monthly section of the planner. Even though our CANVAS school system shows everything in detail, I need to have it written down. Time and again science shows you are more apt to remember something when you wrote it down, and I am firm believer. Go science. Not a paper person though? No problem, there are only about a thousand calendar apps to get you started digitally, and most of them have free versions.

2) Print all syllabuses. Again, they are online, but having that piece of paper to refer to is essential for me. Whether or not you print them or access them online, at the very least read the whole damn thing. There are few things in college life more degrading than asking a question and being told by the instructor that “it is in the syllabus.”

3) Check your email. Frequently. Set up notifications so that you know exactly when one comes in. Check your school system. Frequently. There is no excuse to miss a deadline change, or an assignment when you have all this technology at your fingertips. Plus, if your instructor cancels class you don’t want to be that person who hangs out by a locked door like a lost puppy.

4) Reading list? Get the books ahead of time. Don’t rely on whatever textbook service you are using to really be able to get that book to you before the semester if you order it a few days before classes start. I have had good luck with AbeBooks just so you know. And literature? Check out your local bookshop, or even better a book exchange, those places are godsends. Thank you Bookmans.

5) Set up folders on your computer. I use my Google drive. Set them up so you have a folder for each class. Extra points if you have folders within the folder to keep everything extra organized. It works, I promise. Plus, you can keep way more on the drive than on your bookshelf. All of written notes (yes I am one of those) get converted to a doc if I truly need them for later reference.

Whew. I know this sounds like a lot particularly for those of us with families, and who have a life outside school (and that is all of us) but the extra time you spend before the semester will come back to you as your classes wear on. And right now organization could be key in keeping a positive and calm mental state. Things are rough enough out there without you being flustered and disorganized.

Do you have any special organizational advice?

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