Sometimes, university can get quite overwhelming. With tests, assignments, your own personal life and maybe even a part-time job, it can be difficult to stay on top of things.
During my first couple weeks at university, I put together a number of organizational techniques to keep myself and my responsibilities as orderly as possible to avoid being stressed.
After implementing these, I actually found myself calmly navigating through my first year and achieving high grades with some more ease than those around me. I was waiting for a wave of chaos to occur that was rumoured to be the worst part of university… and it never did.
Why? Because I organized and prepared myself so efficiently.
Ultimately, finding ways that cover how to stay organized in university will make a significant impact on how you balance your life, maintain your productivity, and overall, get good grades!
Whether you are a student about to enter university next year or a third-year student simply looking for ways to improve, I assure you that this article will provide you with some groundbreaking tips and tricks.
Let’s dive right in!
Read the Course Syllabus…Seriously, it’s Beyond Helpful
A course syllabus has everything you need to know about the course. I like to think of it as a window to all possible information I could ever need.
Sounds dramatic but hear me out!
I am always referring back to my the course syllabi whenever I want to confirm something like a due date, the professors email, the weighting of an assignment, and the TA office hours.
It is super helpful because it conveys the course goals and main topics that will be covered which is important because you definitely want to ensure that the course is right for you and your learning style.
The most important factor is that it provides you with an outline of how you will be graded (tests, projects, essays), the weighting of course assignments, and various significant expectations within those areas.
Gaining this insight is super valuable and sets up the groundwork for what kinds of tasks I will have to do the semester.
From here, I will have a solid understanding of what the next few months in this course will be like which is especially crucial in maintaining organization.
A lot of people disregard the course syllabus because they just see it as a long and boring document.
However, I encourage everyone to actually take a minute or two at the begin of the semester to read through everything so there will no unwanted surprises in the future.
Actually use a Calendar
Okay, so once you have looked at your syllabus and established important dates, it’s time to plug that information into a calendar.
Personally, I like to use an online calendar to input all important dates because it’s easier for me to read, takes less time to make, and can be easily reorganized if ever needed. However, using a paper calendar is just as effective!
Tip: When it comes to using a calendar that is on paper instead of online, remember that your calendar should be for practicality and not about how it appears.
It can be easy to get carried away with what the calendar looks like when you are adding to it by hand or making one yourself. So don’t spend too much time worrying about that!
Use your school calendar to organize all relevant school dates – whether that be test dates, assignments dates, or any other event or task that needs to be completed by a certain day.
Personally, I add all of my due dates for all of my classes right at the beginning of a new term. It only takes about 30 mins to add everything to a calendar and then I’m ready to go for the term!
I then use my calendar as a blueprint to ensure I’m aware of all upcoming projects and notable dates. Especially when university gets busy and overwhelming, a calendar is an orderly and systematic way of looking at what needs to be done.
Schedule Your Time
This is one of the most helpful things you can do to become more organized.
Planning out your day, even if it is quickly in your head, will help you stay on task so you can accomplish everything that needs to be done.
Whether it is writing a schedule for your day on paper by the hour or thinking of how you are going to complete all your tasks by time, you will definitely see beaming results.
The benefits of scheduling your time are as follows:
- You will know what you can realistically achieve
- Narrow down what needs to be done
- Avoids you taking on more than you can handle
- Determines how much time you want to dedicate to each task
However, it’s not only important to schedule things that need to be done.
It’s also important that you schedule your down time and other non-related work components into your plan for the day.
In doing so, you will notice that you will be more dedicated and focused on the task at hand because you will have scheduled in a time slot for leisure and a break.
This ultimately enhances your productivity and keeps everything efficient because you are not blending school and leisure together and instead framing a time for each activity so both are satisfied. This leads to less burnout and a more structured mindset!
Have a Routine
Ah, talk about structure! Having a daily routine has many perks that are specifically related to better organization.
Even though it is quite obvious, I’ll explain. Having a routine, that is a fixed program, or a sequence of daily actions that occur each day keeps everything well ordered.
Especially if you have a routine related to your school life, you will discover yourself sticking to the task at hand and being better regulated when it comes to accomplishing things.
In university, I like to have a routine starting from the time I wake up until when I eat my dinner.
Within these time frames, I have a morning routine of getting ready, my school day routine (determined through my class schedule), my study routine, (where I study, how I study, for how long I study, when I take breaks) and more.
Without having a routine, life at university or even just life in general would get quite messy and disorganized. So, implement a daily routine or work on how your routine currently operates.
Make sure it is one that is proficient, reduces procrastination, builds momentum, and allows you to set and accomplish goals.
Set Your Own Due Dates
Setting my own due dates is something that has definitely kept me on top of my assignments and projects.
It’s so easy to put off tasks we don’t want to complete. Sometimes, it feels like we have all the time in the world to do it.
Well, it’s time we make deadlines we can stick to!
Setting my own due dates earlier than the actual due date guarantees that I have time to look over, fine tune, and clarify any aspect of my work.
I also like to do this because by setting my own due date earlier, I get my work done ahead and can then dedicate my time to something else.
This is also another significant aspect of staying organized in university because you will be studying like the test is earlier and thus learning and preparing more!
Likewise, you will be getting more accomplished for the essay because you have put an earlier deadline on it.
You will be working both smarter and essentially faster as the finished product will be done before its actual due date!
This limits procrastination so it does not hinder your work.
Just remember, when you’re setting your own due dates make sure that they are realistic (be honest with yourself!) and that you have taken in external factors into account.
Keep All Your Course Notes in One Place Using OneNote
OneNote is a Microsoft application that allows you to store all your class notes in a highly organized manner.
You can create notebooks on the application so you can have an online-based notebooks which replicate a paper one.
Before downloading OneNote, I used to keep all my class notes on Google docs. However, I highly recommend that all university students use OneNote because it guarantees organization and coherence.
Putting all your notes onto one platform that is divided and structured so well is sure to positively impact the way you take notes in a very simple and minimalistic way.
In addition, it makes studying and relearning the course material that much easier because it is laid out so exceptionally.
Have Goals for Yourself
Finally, to stay organized in university you need to have an objective that you’re working towards. In my opinion, this is one of the most effective organization tips for students.
Because it can be easy to get discouraged, having a goal (big or small) that you want to accomplish will keep you on track.
For example, I have a grade I want to get for each of my classes which motivates me to stay productive and aware of what I need to get done.
Without having this incentive, most students would begin to lose track of their work as the year progresses.
So, make goals for yourself! Again, make sure they are realistic and it is one that you will feel a sense of accomplishment when achieved.
It will also help you assess your progress, keep you challenged, and encourage you to create an effective work-plan to accomplish your goal!
Don’t Forget to Look at the Bigger Picture!
To sustain the momentum of working hard during the school year, remember to step back every now and then and take a deep breath.
Take the time to examine what needs to be completed and your objectives from a different perspective. This will be refreshing and avoid you from a burnout or feeling overwhelmed.
I hope you all enjoyed this article and that it provided you with insight on how you can get through the school year without chaos or panic.
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Thanks for reading!