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One of the things college students struggle with, is organization. What are some encouraging tips and detailed advice on how to stay organized and overall manage time?

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Nancy’s Answer

Hi, Ayen,

Good question!

  1. Have a calendar that you like using: either digital on a smartphone, a paper spiral, a small 3 ring planner, or any system that you will have with you at class, at the library, at work, and at home. I used to use a datebook, then I switched to a flat calendar, and now I use the app on my phone.
  2. Schedule in time for exercise, doing laundry, going to clubs and social events, and work, not just class and study time. Be realistic.
  3. Schedule in time to start longer term projects, papers and problem sets early, well before they are due, so when something takes longer than expected you are not in a panic.
  4. Go to instructors’ office hours for tips, extra help, and to get a relationship going with a potential mentor. They have seen some common mistakes made by students in planning.
  5. Make a routine. Sticking to a routine helps you feel in control and to resist wasting time. For example, you want to join friends at a party or event on Thursday evening, but you say, “Sorry, I’ve scheduled time in tonight for my composition, but I can go to that movie night tomorrow!”
  6. Schedule sleep. This is number one for feeling good and capable. Be as consistent as possible with it to avoid oversleeping on your less busy days. This is difficult but experts say good sleep hygiene is important for thinking and performance. (Robert Stickgold, 1999).

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Cassidi’s Answer


Being organized can be a lot of fun. Once you have a system that works well for YOU, you can be a successful, organized individual.

Be Proactive! By planning, making lists, preparing for events, you will feel more organized, and ultimately feel more confident.

Figure out what needs to be done first - There are a few things to take into consideration when trying to determine what to do first. Is there a deadline? Are any tasks on your to-do list quick wins? Does one of your tasks have a higher priority in importance?

To echo what others have said, having a routine is a great start. Figure out what works for you, and stick with you. That could be writing things to do the next day before bed, or jotting them down when you wake up. You can even include simpler tasks, such as "drink coffee", or "make bed". Add in fun things too, like seeing friends, or attending an event.

In regards to physical organization, it is also about finding a solution that works for you. Put like things back in the same place. When it comes to notes, and studying - try color coding, an index, or tabs!

Good luck!

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Julie’s Answer

I see a lot of answers here about keeping a list. This is an integral part of understanding and coordinating your work. Use Covey’s important/urgent/not important/ not urgent square method and label abcd for each item on your list. Then write down no more than 5 things from your original list on a separate sheet or area. Don’t add anything to either list until those five things are complete. Once they are, do one thing from your not important and not urgent list (read for 15 min, newspaper catchup, walk) then write down the next 5 things.
This helps me avoid adding things to my list in order to procrastinate what I really don’t want to do but need to.

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Kelsey’s Answer

Hi Ayen,

In addition to all the advice above (completely agree!), I recommend using color coding. I use a planner and write down all my to-dos as the week goes on. When I finish something, I mark the checkbox AND highlight it in blue. This is my "completed" color. If I didn't finish something, I draw an arrow in the checkbox, highlight it in orange, and move it to the next week. This helps me see what I'm accomplished and what still needs to be done. Even if some weeks have a ton of orange, other weeks have a ton of blue. The colors help me stay motivated and it's nice to look at :)

Try a few things, some people work better with digital organizers and others (like me) with analog paper organizers.

Find what's right for you and you're golden!

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Bonnie’s Answer

Great question! Start out by keeping it simple and making a “to do” list and cross off tasks as you complete them. This will also help you feel accomplished!