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College life can sometimes get a bit hectic, but staying on top of assignments and events is key to success. In this post, I’m going to talk about things I do and have done to stay organized in college. I’ll be discussing how to use a planner, planners I have used, and other methods I have found useful (like desk calendars and dry erase boards).
Using a Planner
The first thing you will need to stay organized in college is some sort of planner. Whether if It is electronic or paper bound, make sure It works for you. Either format is only as good as the person putting information in It. So, develop a method that works for you and stick to It! Be sure to keep your planner on you at all times (just in case you have to write in a quick note or important date for school, work, family, the doctor, etc.).
USING your planner is essential! There have been times where I have been so busy and have forgotten to use my planner and my life felt all over the place. Be sure to check your planner everyday and look ahead to future weeks. Your planner will help you to stay organize and prioritize your new life!
Before you start writing in your planner, go buy a pack of different colored pens and highlighters, then decide on a color code scheme. At first I will make little color blocks with a legend to help me remember which colors are which, but as the semester goes on I start to remember. I typically write in important dates that I know of like birthdays and anniversaries when I first get my planner and use a bright, fun color like aqua or pink. For meetings with professors, doctors appointments, etc. I will use red. Then for the remaining colors, I use a separate color for each class that I am in. I also have a color for reminders that I write in each day or on the side (e.g., call mom, get car serviced, clean room, go to groceries, etc.). Crossing off an item on your list is such a rewarding feeling!
Once you have your color codes, begin writing in your class schedule. Most planners have a monthly overview, then a detailed weekly overview. I write all classes in both so nothing will slip through the cracks.
When you receive your class syllabus at the beginning of the semester, immediately write in all important dates (e.g., assignments, quizzes, tests, papers, projects, etc.). Know that these are subject to change so make sure that you have a white out pen.
Which Planner Should I Use?
As said before, whether if It is an electronic planner or a paper bound planner, get one that works best for you. I have used mainly paper planners, but that is because I am a bit old school sometimes and actually writing things down helps me to remember. I have used the simple planners from Walmart and those worked pretty well.
The past few years I have used Lilly Pulitzer planners. I have used both the jumbo size and the small size. I liked the jumbo size one because I could slide papers in the back of It without them getting crushed, but of the two I prefer the smaller one because I can just grab an go. I also love these planners because they are so fun and bright and make a hectic life not seem so crazy. They also come with stickers, too!
I recently just purchased a planner from Prep Avenue. I just started to use It, and let me say, It is PERFECT for college students! When she designed this planner, she had college students in mind! She had Evelyn Henson help with the designs and they are simply darling! So let me tell you what I love about this planner so far…
In the front is a section for your class schedule. I already talked about how I would write in my class schedule in the month section, but this is just another place to write It in. Also, It has a section at the bottom for your color coding legend.
Next, It has a section for “Class Info” where you can write in your professor’s name, office hours, Exam dates, and the location of the class.
I absolutely LOVE that there is a section for “Standing Meetings and Activities”. Again, be sure to write this into your monthly and weekly notes, but this will also help you keep up with your day-to-day and week-to-week happenings!
For each monthly overview, there is a side section for notes, assignments that are due that month, and events. For each weekly overview, the pages are wide to write in detailed notes for each day. It has a “Due Today”, “Meetings and Activities”, and “To Do List”. This is going to help you to stay even MORE organized since there are already designated sections for each of these. There is also a “Don’t Forget” line on each day to remind you to do the little things! Then for each weekend there is a “Weekend To-Do List”.
Be sure to check out her site where she gives an overview on how to set up your planner and talks about how It is designed!
Other Organization Items
On top of using a planner, I also like to use other means for visual reminders of what is coming in order to keep me on task and organized. One thing I love to use is a small dry erase board. I usually will put It somewhere where I will look at It often like the wall beside my bedroom door or over my desk. Each week I will write everything that I have to do that week (e.g., appointments, assignments, exams, etc.). Once I finish each one, I cross It off. As you can tell, crossing off items on my list is so satisfying to me! Having a dry erase board will help you to remind you to complete your assignments ahead of times and to avoid procrastination.
Another item I like to get is a big desk calendar or a dry erase calendar to hang on the wall. Again, its great to have another visual reminder of the things that are to come. It may seem a bit tedious to have so many means for organization, but with all of these you should have no excuse to not stay on top of everything.
The most important part of staying organized is USING your organization materials! This will lead you to success and, most importantly, not to get so overwhelmed!