Ready to make the most of your next semester? If you’re like most college students, your schedule will be packed with classes, school activities, studying, and other responsibilities. On top of all that, you’ll want to find time to have fun with your friends, too. Get organized before you get overwhelmed, with help from these tips.
Make a list of your goals. Make a list of everything you want to accomplish this semester, and keep it in a place where you’ll see it on a regular basis, whether that’s on the front page of your planner, saved as your wallpaper or hanging above your desk. Put your long-term goals on this list, too. Refer back to it whenever you need an extra push to stay inspired and motivated.
Manage your time. Once you have the syllabus for each of your classes, out your semester. Use a calendar, whether it’s a paper planner, or a calendar app on your phone. Make note of semester breaks and days when the school is closed. Look over each syllabus and mark your project due dates in your calendar. For big projects, also write yourself a reminder on the date you’ll need to get started. If you plan things out, and stick to your plan, you won’t have to turn in a rush-job that you finished at the last minute. Instead, you’ll finish the assignment early and have plenty of time to look it over and make final edits.
On a daily basis, take a look at your calendar and update your daily to-do lists. Add new assignments, events, and obligations as they come up. Even if you use a paper calendar, you can set reminder alarms in your phone to keep you on schedule. (Just be sure the alarms aren’t set to go off while you’re in class!) If there’s not enough room in your calendar for your full to-do list, consider using a free to-do list app like Wunderlist or Toodledo.
Keep in mind that classes and assignments aren’t the only things that need scheduling. The busier you are, the more you’ll want to schedule. Make time for exercise, doing the laundry, and hanging out with friends. If you have a meal plan, always be sure you can get to the dining hall during meal times. A good schedule can also make it easier to get enough sleep.
Organize your stuff. Keep your room, including your desk, tidy. Take a minute to make your bed every morning. A clean room is good for roommate relations–and it also helps you keep your head on straight. If everything you own belongs in a particular place, and you keep it in that place, you’ll always know where your keys and meal card are, and you won’t have to scramble to find a certain book or notebook five minutes before class starts.
Make sure your bag is stocked with everything you need, and that you’re not lugging around things you won’t need until next week. If you need to bring a particular book to a morning class, put it in your bag the night before. Fill a reusable water bottle and stick that in, too, in case you get thirsty during class. After class, be sure any loose papers end up in the right notebook, so you’ll know where to find them when you need them.
Organize your computer. Make a desktop folder for each new semester, and within that, make a folder for each of your classes. If you take notes on a laptop, save your notes in that class’s folder, and name each document in a way that makes sense (like with the date of each lecture). If you have to download materials for class, keep them in the class folder, too. The same goes for homework assignments, term paper notes, and anything else class-related that you have on your computer. Don’t forget to back things up on a regular basis, and always keep your laptop in a safe place. (Be sure your room door is locked when you’re not home, no matter how much you trust your neighbors.)
Organize your study habits. Get a notebook or a binder for each class, and keep track of what you need to bring to each class session. If your notebook doesn’t have pockets, make sure you have a folder where you can keep the syllabus and handouts, or staple them into your notebook as you receive them. (That way they’ll be in the right place in your notes.) Refer back to the syllabus on a regular basis, and keep up on the reading. It’s hard to catch up if you fall behind.
Take great notes, whether it’s on paper or on a laptop. If you use your computer to take notes in class, consider using software that blocks distractions (For example, you can set SelfControl to temporarily block access to things like email, Facebook, and Twitter for a specified amount of time). If you’re a slow note-taker, consider recording the audio of your class sessions, so you can go back over them later.
Stick to your budget. Whether you get an allowance from your parents, or you’re working a part time job, chances are, your funds are limited. Keep track of what you’re spending so you won’t end up penniless later in the month or later in the semester. (Need a little help? Consider trying a money-management app like Mint.)
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