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  • Writer's pictureDr. Mena Perone Birett


Successful college students employ different methods for keeping things organized and staying motivated.

Be motivated. Stay motivated to tackle the mess in your life. Otherwise, when the going gets tough, you will get sloppy. Make a list. Tack it up somewhere where you will see it when you start to feel unmotivated.

Using Planning to Stay Organized in College

  • Keep a planner. Use your planner to track classes, assignments, and social plans. If you have both a paper planner and an app, or multiple planners, the odds are that something will eventually slip between the cracks when you forget to write down your plans in both. Also, having more than one will take up a lot of your time.

  • Use the days-before-it’s-due system. In your planner, use red pen to mark the day an assignment is due. Write it out in blue pen in the two days ahead; black for three to five days ahead; and green for six to nine days ahead. That way, you will always see assignments coming up on the horizon and won’t ever be surprised by an essay that’s due tomorrow.

  • Schedule chores. Doing laundry, taking out the trash, you name it. Planning to do this every Sunday will keep your laundry from piling up on the floor, or your bin from overflowing.

Syllabus Tips for Staying Organized in College

  • Save all your syllabi. If your professor gives you a guide to what your entire semester is going to look like, don’t lose it. Annotate your syllabi. Mark your syllabus with everything you need to remember.

  • Make an assignment list.

Using Daily Tasks to Stay Organized in College

  • Keep to-do lists.

  • Wake up at the same time every day. Waking up at the same time every day will help you to get into a set schedule.

  • Make your bed when you get up. Making your bed will keep your room clean and will keep you from crawling back in if you’re sleepy.

  • Figure out your most productive time. Figure out what time of the day you are the most productive.

  • Pack your backpack. Take the time to pack it with what you need to work that day. It is a great time-saver and you will not have the excuse to go back to your room and possibly take a nap?!

  • Plan your outfit ahead of time. This will save you time in the mornings.

  • Clean-desk policy. At the end of every night, try to have a clear desk, with just your computer, lamp, or books on it, and no clutter. It will keep your room tidy and make it easier to find what you need in the morning.

  • Clean-floor policy. Ditto with the floor. Try not to have any clutter off of the floor during the week so that it is easier to get and find what you need.

  • Spend 5 minutes a day cleaning. Seriously, you will be amazed at what you can do in five minutes a day.

  • Have a system for taking notes. It doesn’t matter what kind you use– just make sure that you have a system and stick to it. It will make it easier to review notes later on.

  • Don’t question and don’t stop yourself while writing. Let go of your inhibitions and don’t be afraid to write a terrible first draft. You can always edit later.

  • Use a timer. Work in bursts of time.

  • Work and play in different areas. Work at a desk or in a library and reserve your room or bed for hanging out and sleep.

  • Use the 8/8/8 method for balancing your life. It’s a way to divide your time to be responsible and still relax. Try to sleep for eight hours a day, spend eight working, and eight hours for the rest of your life – time with friends, eating, etc.

Supplies for Staying Organized in College

  • Give each class a color, so that they are easier to find and grab when you are on the go.

  • Keep binders, folders, and/or notebooks for each of your classes. Find out which one(s) work best for you and then do your best to keep them organized.

Tips for Keeping Your Room and Desk Organized in College

  • “If you take it out, put it back” rule. This is the easiest way to keep a desk clear.

  • Keep any “might needs” in your desk drawer, rather than on your desktop. Keep staplers, hole-punchers, etc., in your drawers rather than on the top of your desk. This will help keep your desk neat and organized.

  • Label loose cords. Use masking tape to label your cords with words like “camera,” “iPhone,” etc. This will help you identify them after you forget what they’re for.

  • Label your chargers ends with the same washi tape.

  • Keep a white board with reminders to yourself.

Self-Care Tips for Staying Organized in College

  • Sleep enough. I can’t emphasize this enough. Sleep is so important! Try to get between seven and nine hours of sleep a day, depending on your age and preferences, which will help you stay alert and happy during the day.

  • Meditation/yoga/mindfulness. Find something that makes you feel connected to yourself or your spirituality. Mental health is so incredibly important, not just for being organized, but for being a balanced and happy person. Take care of yourself!

  • Go easy on yourself. No one is perfect, and it can be incredibly difficult to stay on top of everything in your life. Do your best but remember if you mess up that it is okay to make mistakes. All that matters is that you are trying.

C.A.N. is here for you to ensure that you are up to the challenges that lay ahead. If you would like to discuss the transition to college and how C.A.N. can be of assistance, please fill out the contact us page on our website.

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