12 Tips for Organizing Your College Life

Focused woman doing homework in the library

With finals approaching, there’s no better time than the present to get organized. Whether you’re new to college or a returning student, here are some great tips to help you succeed. Try them and find what works best for you!

  1. Be motivated. When the going gets tough, it’s easy to lose track of why you’re putting so much time and effort into college. Keep a list of long-term goals to help you stay focused on what’s important. Tack it up somewhere where you will see it every day.To do list written on paper with blue pen
  2. Keep a planner and/or a planner app. During the school year, using a planner to track classes, assignments, work, and social plans is extremely important. Planners are cheap and are available almost everywhere you can find calendars. If you’re more digitally inclined, there are many free apps and websites you can use that are a Google search away. 
  3. Save all your syllabi and keep them available. If your professor gives you a guide to what your entire semester is going to look like, don’t lose it. You can mark your syllabus with everything you need to remember. Gather all your syllabi together and enter important dates into your planner or calendar app.
  4. Set a schedule and stick to it. Keep to-do lists updated every day. Try to keep the same wake-up and bedtimes every day of the week, even on the weekends and holidays, when there are no classes. This will help you stay on schedule consistently. Also, try to figure out what time of the day you are most productive, and optimize that time for productivity.
  5. Be prepared for the day, before the day happens. When you’re ready for the day even before you wake up, the day tends to run much smoother. You’re less likely to forget important items you need for the day. Having your backpack stocked ahead of time with everything you need is a big time saver. stuffed-pack
  6. Tidy your living and work spaces. Think of the time you spend looking for something in the morning while getting ready to leave the house for the day. Having a clean desk is an excellent start. At the end of each day, get rid of clutter and put things where they belong. This simple nightly routine makes getting ready in the morning much less stressful.
  7. Develop good note organization habits.  Use a color code system, and give each class a color. Match all your binders and notebooks for that class to their color, so that they are easier to find and grab when you are on the go.  Keep separate binders, folders, and/or notebooks for each of your classes. apps-for-keeping-organized-in-college
  8. Set work sessions and use a timer. This step will keep you from wandering into other tasks not coursework related.
  9. Study and hang out in different areas. Work at a desk or in a library, and reserve your room or bed for hanging out and sleeping. Try not to study on the couch in front of the TV, as it’s easy to get distracted by your newest favorite Netflix show.College Study Area SUNY Ulster
  10. Spend time away from the screens in your life. Disconnect from the internet for a few hours a day. Unplugging is a healthy way to curb stress and keep yourself from wasting time. Consider limiting your social media use or cut the habit out altogether, as a quick scroll through your Instagram feed can quickly turn into a hour-long browse.
  11. Remember college is only one piece of your life. If possible, try 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.
  12. Go easy on yourself. No one is perfect, and it can be incredibly difficult to stay on top of all your responsibilities. Do your best, but remember, everyone make mistakes. SUNY Ulster has lots of support services to help. And always remember the goal – graduation!


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