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What are the best ways to get organized for college?

I have always struggled with being #organized with my classes and homework. Everything gets done on time but its kind of a hot mess of a system. I keep a #planner but its always overflowing with notes and reminders. I honestly think I need a better system seeing as I usually forget about the planner but because of that, some assignments slip through the cracks. Any advice? #organization #college #soft-skills

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Beatrice’s Answer

Getting organized for college can be difficult. I worked with several college freshmen who had the same concern. Here are a couple of suggestions that might help with organization and time management.

1.   Find an accountability partner—someone that you can check-in with on a weekly basis. The person can ask about your progress on project and/or assignments. He/she should be someone who will be honest with you and won’t let you off the hook when you don’t do what you’re supposed to do. The person should not be someone who will allow you to use your time together just chatting and not make effective use of the time. So, it probably should not be your best friend. It could be a parent, a sibling, a classmate or perhaps your school counselor.

2.   Set aside time every day to plan each day and review the status of projects/assignments. If you have a study class on your schedule, you might want to use this time for planning. Otherwise, you can use a half hour each evening to do your planning.

3.   If you are the type of person who spends a lot of time on your phone or other electronic devices, you might want to give yourself at least a half hour to an hour each evening without using your device for planning your time and projects. Make it the same time each day so that you are consistent.

4.    Give yourself “soft” deadlines. So, for example, if you have a project due on a Friday, list the soft deadline in your daily planner as the Friday prior to the actual due date. Also set a reminder for this ”fake deadline” date on your telephone. Push yourself to work as though the soft deadline were your real deadline. This will give you time to get assignments done early and you’ll have time for changes if needed. This might help you to stop waiting until the last minute for each project/assignment.

5.    If the planner that you have does not work for you, try something else until you find a system that will work. There are a lot of free time management sheets and/or apps available online that you might want to try. Search terms such as “time management strategies for students,” or “organizational strategies for students,” or even “time management examples for students.” You should get results that you can print and use.

I hope these are useful. If you try them and they don’t work right-away don’t get frustrated. Stick with it. It often takes time for changes in schedules and routines to take effect. Stay positive and keep trying.

All the best to you.

Beatrice recommends the following next steps:

Find an accountability partner
Add assignments and project due dates to your planner.
Set soft deadlines for each assignment and set a reminder on your phone and other devices.
Do weekly check-ins with your partner for each assignment

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Kathy’s Answer

It sounds like you are taking lots of good steps to help organize yourself already! Here are a few things to keep in mind, not just for organizing for college, but for organizing yourself once you get to college and after you enter the career of your choice:

  1. Have a plan. Having a plan helps you avoid being overwhelmed by sticky notes. The most important first step to any plan is understanding your objective(s). For example, you might be trying to accomplish 3 things - sending in all of your applications, rounding out your extra curricular activities, and procuring all of the "stuff" you'll need for your dorm. You'll have to make your own list, of course. Once you know what you are trying to accomplish, you can make a separate list of exactly what you need to do and to do it in order to meet those objectives. It's hard to do, but if something shows up on a to-do list and it is not going for further your objectives, put it to the end of the list.
  2. Prioritize. Any good professional will admit that they have more things to get done than they can possibly do at one time. This means you need to select the most import things even if a few less-important things, or "nice to haves", fall through the cracks. You may have heard the analogy that you cannot eat a whole cow at once. You need to pick a place to start, and work through it one bite at a time. The same goes for the pile of things you need to get done to get ready for college. Let's use the example of one of your objectives being to submit applications to your top 10 college choices. Because you cannot possibly submit all 10 at one time and do them justice, you'll need to prioritize which to do first. Commit to doing one each week based on the application deadline. Don't go to the next one until the first priority is completed, then check if off your list! Once this is checked off, go to another activity that will further one of your other objectives. And don't get side-tracked with other activities. Once you have worked through the top priorities, you'll still have time for lower ones.
  3. Don't let "perfect" be the enemy of "good". Once you know your objectives and have set your priorities, get started! Don't wait for a complete list or the perfect plan. Focus your energy on doing a thoughtful, quality job on each task, but focus on DOING. Check your completed work off the list and move to the next item. Accomplishing good work will also help avoid being overwhelmed and reinforce that you can do it!
  4. Don't be afraid to ask for help. You already took the first step by reaching out to ask this question, so you are on the right track! We are all in this life together, and one thing I have learned (often the hard way) is that the people in our lives want us to succeed and they are happy to help us even when we least expect it.

You're going to do great. Best of luck.

Kathy recommends the following next steps:

Make a list of my top 5 objectives in order of importance
Make a list of what I need to do in order to meet these objectives
Based on how much time you can allocate to the task list you made, identify which tasks you need to complete each week. Commit to getting these priority tasks done.
Keep a check list and scratch off the one's you complete. It's a great feeling! If you don't get something done, don't be discouraged. But if you keep missing your own goals, reevaluate your plan and your objectives until you find something that works.
When you hit brick wall, ask for help and just keep plugging along.

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Esom’s Answer

Hi there!

I suggest creating a file, preferably electronically, for each of your classes/obligations. This can be done on Google Docs, Powerpoint, or even on the Notes Sketchpad of your computer. Have a section for each class. This is where you would put the assignments that you are currently working on as well as what assignments/projects are upcoming. Another piece of advice would be that your syllabus is your best friend. Feel free to write on it and track your points for each assignment.

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Diane’s Answer

I suggest you use a Trello Board. Go to trello.com . You can make a card for each class, and under each card type out assignments. Put the app on both your computer and you phone.
Most importantly, do 4 things every day that are most important. Don't overburden yourself with so many things to do. Look at what you need to do, chose 4 that are most important, It gives you focus for the day.
good luck!

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Mona’s Answer

My number one advice is having a big calendar hanging in your room in front of your desk so you cannot miss it. Have important dates on it and assignments. Go through the course syllabus for each class ahead of time and make note of all project due dates and exams. Also, set remainders on your phone if you have an assignment that's due every Thursday at midnight for example. The combination of a planner, a calendar, and alerts can come in hand when things feel like they're slipping.

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Claire’s Answer

An idea could be placing the things that you have to do away and out of your planner. If you separate notes (even if they are about the actual assignment) outside of your planner, then it could be way less hectic! Maybe get a notebook where you can have notes, then leave your planner just for your "to-do" list. I also think putting your to-do list close to where you'll see it is important! Maybe even write out a weekly to-do list and tape it to the back of your bedroom door? Or somewhere that it'll be in your sight as much as possible. Good luck!

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Mili’s Answer

Always be honest with subject matter

Hi Mili, can you explain what you mean by this? Gurpreet Lally

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Zixin (Iris)’s Answer

Hi, maybe you can check out the grid system where you divide the task into four categories — essential and urgent, essential and non-urgent, non-essential and urgent, non-essential and non-urgent. In this way, you will have an idea of what to prioritize and should be done first, and will also force you to start early on those most important tasks.

Meanwhile, have a balance between recreation and study. When you study, pay full attention and concentrate on your work, so that you can get it done efficiently. When you are resting, do take a full rest so you can regain energy for later work.

Hope that helps!

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Linda’s Answer

First, have you chosen a degree path? Have you spoken to an academic advisor for a sample degree plan? Are you taking AP classes? Your question is somewhat vague. So, I advise you seek advisement. We help students with their academic path. As for assignments, I know you must have a cell phone. Use your calendar for assignment due dates on your cell and use the alarm function to remind you. I hope this was helpful.

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Yamile’s Answer

Hi! I think the agenda is a great way but maybe try to get into the habit of checking it every day by setting an alarm on your phone to remind you to check it. I have an agenda but I also have a large calendar on my wall that I write due dates on. Since it's big and on my wall my eyes are drawn to look at it everyday. Maybe you can even place the calendar in a spot that you look at right when you get out of bed. I hope this helps!

Yamile recommends the following next steps:

Buy or make a large calendar to hang on your wall