Originally published on The Odyssey Online on 9/28/15.
I enter every semester with the same mantra: this time, I will be organized. It wasn’t until my junior year that I really started following that. You’ve got to kick this semester’s butt, and you will with these three tips.
1. Microsoft OneNote is my hero.
Microsoft OneNote is amazing. I keep an online notebook in the program for each new semester. Within that notebook, I create a new page tab for each class I’m taking. Within each tab, I create a new page for every assignment. I also copy and paste the course’s syllabus on a new page so I can access it from my computer even offline. OneNote is like having a five-subject notebook without having the pages fray and the cover rip off halfway through October.
2. Ditch the cute micro-planner for a normal-sized one…and actually use it.
Every year, I get a new planner and say I’m going to use it and stay organized. Every year, I abandon it in the first few weeks of the semester. I realized last year that this because the planners I was using were so small and I would lose them or leave them in my car or at home. Last semester, I found a cute planner that was the same size as my other notebooks and I stuck to using it the entire four-month period. It’s bigger, you can’t really lose it unless you try, and it won’t even fall out of your hands when you’re carrying the rest of your books across campus because you’re too lazy to use a backpack. To benefit from using a planner, you have to actually use it. You should go through your syllabi and mark down all important due dates for the whole semester, so you are sure to not miss anything that will mess up your grade. It takes such a short amount of time to do this, yet will have a huge impact on your semester
3. You need a folder. And a notebook. And maybe a binder. No excuses.
In high school, I would stick any papers my teachers would give in my notebook. This lead to extreme un-organization and papers everywhere. I could never find anything easily! Now, as a senior, I’ve mastered the notebook-paper-folder organization. I take all my in-class notes in notebooks and put all papers and articles in a folder. I stick the folder in the notebook for easy access and to ensure I don’t forget to bring the folder to class. For one of my classes this semester, it’s all reading and note-taking. My professor puts her lecture notes up online, so I print them out and take notes on those in class. Instead of the notebook-folder method, I hole punch my notes and put them in a binder. Easy!
Once you start on the right track, you have a better chance of staying on and not falling off. It’s easy to just write down assignments on random post-it notes, but it’s also easy to lose them and then forget to do your work. This semester, adopt my mantra and actually get organized! You’ll feel a lot better about your semester, and I bet your GPA will too.