8 Tips for Staying Organized During the School Year
With my first day of classes quickly approaching, I'm currently in the process of getting myself prepared for my Public Relations postgrad program. After four years of university, I think I have finally gotten the hang of pre-semester preparations, and the tools necessary to get me through.
So, for those of you beginning your first (or fifth) year of school, I've compiled a list of helpful advice to get you all ready for school to begin. I know many of you in America have probably already begun school, but these tips can help you stay ahead of the game as well!
First off, the most important thing I always have on me during the school year (and any time really) is an agenda. If you don't already have one, get one! I know it's nice to have a planner or calendar on your computer, but it's always handy to have a hard copy just in case any technical issues occur, and I also find that I forget much less when I've actually written something out by hand.
By having an agenda, you can plan out everything you need to accomplish in a day (and week and month). At the same time, you can also keep track of your assignments, papers, work schedules, appointments, and anything else you have going on in your life. This way, you'll never miss an assignment that's due.
This year, I picked up the ban.do floral planner, and I love it! The only downfall is that the planner only has American holidays, but with all the benefits of this planner, I figure I can just write the Canadian holidays in. It has SO much space for planning out daily activities, and it has fun colours and graphics throughout. This way, planning doesn't become a boring task. It also has a bundle of stickers for the kid in you.
Important Documents Folder
In the top image, beside my agenda, is the pastel striped folder I rely upon to store my important documents. Inside the folder, I keep my financial records like receipts for larger purchases, as well as receipts for all school-related purchases. It's important to keep receipts for items like textbooks, supplies and materials for school so you can claim them later on for tax purposes.
Also, I like to store important records for school, such as my acceptance letter, tuition statement, and anything else related to my education so I can refer back to them at a later date.
High Quality Notebooks
Rather than typing my notes, I prefer to take them by hand. This allows me to remember lecture material better than if I were just typing verbatim lecture notes. I recommend taking your notes by hand in class (unless you're required to type them) if you have trouble remembering what your professor said in lecture, as I noticed a huge improvement when I started taking notes by hand, followed by typing out the important points later.
Since I use my notebooks everyday in class, I've learnt that a good quality notebook can go a long way. This year, I picked up a couple notebooks from Chapters (my favourite bookstore in Canada), and their covers are made of sturdier materials than other notebooks I have bought in the past. These notebooks will hold up throughout at least one semester of class, and I won't have to worry about the cover bending every time I toss my notebooks in my bag. It doesn't hurt that these notebooks are also pretty to look at with their quotes and patterns.
In first year, I didn't want to carry a pencil case around with me because I thought it would look childish whipping one out in class. This thought lasted about a week. I quickly realized that it was so much easier to have all of my pens and highlighters in one place, so I didn't have to spend time digging around in my bag looking for them at the beginning of every class.
Like my notebooks, I picked up this chic navy pencil case at Chapters, and it came with a couple pencils, an eraser, and a sharpener as well, which was a nice bonus! Since I have a total Paris obsession, I thought the little gold Eiffel Tower on the pencil case was a perfect addition to my school supplies.
When you're cooking for one person, it can get a bit tricky coming up with meal ideas, especially for dinner. A couple years ago, I came across a great meal planner online, and I haven't looked back since. What I love about this specific design is that it leaves space for every meal, so you can plan out your whole day. It also has space for new recipe ideas, and a grocery list area so you have everything you need for the week.
By planning out my meals each week, I can ensure that I'm using up all of the food I bought, and I'm not wasting fresh produce. It also allows me to judge when I'll be eating leftovers, so if I have a busy night, I can make a larger amount of food the night before.
You can easily find free weekly meal planners on Pinterest or just by googling "weekly meal planners". There are a ton of resources out there, so I'm sure you'll be able to find a layout that fits your needs.
Weekly Time Management Schedules
Like a meal planner, it's always nice to lay out what you have in store for the week. By using a time management schedule, you're able to see your upcoming class and work schedule, so you can dedicate time to doing assignments, going to the gym, or anything else you need to do in a specific day or week.
Time management schedules are a great addition to an agenda, as it gives you half hour intervals, so you can be more specific in your planning. While you may not always be able to stay right on track because life happens, it's nice to have an idea of what you'll be doing for the week. You can easily make one of these on Excel, or you can find them across the internet and Pinterest. I use one similar to this style here, but I also like to include the weekends, as that's when I'm typically working.
After a couple years of doing my homework in my bed (and usually falling asleep), I suggest looking into getting a desk if you don't already have one. Even if it's a small one, it's better to leave your bed free of school and work. In addition to your desk, it's always nice to have organizers with essential tools readily available.
I always keep a mass of pens and highlighters handy for taking notes and writing papers, as well as sticky notes and tabs for when I'm doing readings. Another great tool to have is a small stapler since most of the work you hand in usually needs to be stapled together, and these little ones take up much less space than your average stapler.
Computer & Smartphone Apps
For those of you who prefer to be organized on your tech tools, there are an array of apps out there to keep you on track. For your computer, I suggest filling your calendar in with important date reminders. You can also sync this to your email account, which in turn can sync to your smartphone and remind you of important dates you have scheduled.
One app I highly recommend that I've been using religiously for the past three years is the iStudiez Pro app for MacBook. It allows you to keep track of all classes you have in a semester (including their time slots and your professors for each class). It also has an assignment planner section that allows you to track upcoming due dates, the assignment's level of urgency, as well as a check box to show when you've completed your assignment.
As for smartphones, there are a ton of apps out there to keep you focused and organized. One app I have been intending to try out is the "Due" app. I picked up a card at Starbucks to download this app for free, and I'm hoping to give it a try this semester. Have you used the "Due" app, and does it help keep you organized?
I hope that you've gotten at least one new organization tip from the above list to help get you prepared for your upcoming semester. I'm really looking forward to starting classes, and I'll let you guys know how graduate school compares to doing my undergraduate program after I've had some in-class experience.
How do you keep yourself organized during the school year? Do you rely upon apps & digital devices, or do you prefer to write things down?
Until next time,