There’s at least one in every classroom—the person with a planner out, a shiny new notebook and a water bottle and healthy snack at the ready. They look at ease and well-rested. Many of us start out this way at the beginning of a new term, but it becomes increasingly difficult to remain organized, as midterms, meetings and other distractions come out to jumble our brains. However, this could be the term during which you are the student who is organized for the full 11 weeks.
First, invest in a planner. If you haven’t got a planner already, they are available for purchase at the bookstore, or you can print just the dates for this term out from the web. Go through the syllabi from your classes and mark all of the due dates and other important events down right away. Doing this will make it easier for you to see on which days during the term you’ll end up having the most amount of work, and you can plan accordingly.
Having a planner is just half the battle. The other half is continuing to use it and sticking to the plans you write in it. There is something really satisfying about marking a task as complete, and the victorious feeling may motivate you to continue checking things off. This also means having the planner handy. Bring it to class so you can have instant access in case there’s a syllabus change, and have it with you when you’re doing homework so that you can be sure that you’ve done everything you need to. Your simple calendar book will really make your life easier and more organized.
Next, you’re going to want to keep your notes organized so that you’re not an angry, sad puddle when midterms loom. You may want to have one section in a notebook per class you take notes in. For instance, if you’re taking five classes, buy a five-section notebook. Having a single notebook for all of your classes means that you only have to keep track of one item, and it will start to feel strange if you’re leaving for class without it. Keeping your notes in one place means that loose papers and writing in other places will be less common.
Next, keep your stuff in your backpack when you’re not using it. No one likes that horrible feeling that occurs when you’ve left your homework or other important necessities on your desk at home. To solve this issue, put your books and supplies right back in your backpack when you’re done with them so you can grab the whole thing in the morning without having to frantically stuff things in there and hope you’ve got it all.
I would also keep a “survival kit” pouch in your backpack. Anything you might forget to bring to class when you’re in a rush in the morning could be stored in one place for those times when your mind is in a million places. Everyone’s survival kit might be different, but some suggestions would be a granola bar, some extra pens and pencils, an extra Scantron sheet or blue-book, and some chap stick.
Better yet, leave yourself enough time before class to remain both organized and calm. This is one I struggle with, because I hate waking up until it is absolutely necessary. However, giving yourself time to make a cup of tea and really wake up will make for a more energized and less stressful morning, and might affect your mood for the rest of the day.
Leaving enough time goes for assignments too. If you give yourself more time to write a paper, you’ll be less stressed, and therefore more likely to have time to be organized. I’m not saying it’s going to be easy necessarily, but it could make a world of difference as far as how your term goes, especially as the sun comes out and minds get a little absent.
It won’t hurt to give it a shot.
The opinions expressed in Keating’s column do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Barometer staff.