Today: Apr 21, 2024

Organization 101: Get your act together


About a week ago I was looking all over the place for paperwork I had to submit. The next day I was searching high and low for an assignment I had printed out. Looking for things seemed to have become a routine over the last few weeks. I am usually overly organized but was starting to slip. I decided I needed to get myself organized again; it isn’t too late for you either.

He’s Making a List, Checking it Twice

As much as I love using my planner, I make weekly to-do lists to stay even more organized. On an index card, I write “Week of 11/7” for instance, then the class, assignment and day of the week it’s due. It’s an easy way to see how much you have to do for that upcoming week; it’s all in one place. I keep the index card on my desk so it’s a constant reminder of what I need to accomplish. My favorite part is crossing things off; it’s such a great feeling because you can physically see you’ve finished something.

Fun with Folders

One of the biggest problems I was having was that I was using folders; I just wasn’t using them efficiently. I had assignments and papers for three classes crammed into one poor folder, which probably weighed the same as a newborn. The solution? Designate a folder to a specific class. If you have back-to-back classes, taking two folders with you may seem inconvenient, but in the long run, you’ll have an easier time finding things.

When I buy new folders, I make sure I don’t have two in the same color. You could possibly insist this is being obsessive, but it’s much easier to have one class set aside to one color folder. Instead of having five black folders and not knowing which folder has papers from which class, you know the red folder is for a specific class. You can even designate a color for a class and have both a folder and a notebook in the same color.

Hello, Highlighters

I find highlighters to be fun in general, but they’re also useful. Say you have a test coming up and your professor briefly went over what would be on it. Being the good student you are, you jotted the topics down. Go through your notes and highlight what information will be on the test. Then go back and study the things you have highlighted. This will save you time because you’ll just be studying what you need to know.

Before registering for classes last week, on a piece of paper I wrote what classes I needed to take. I wrote down the class, the course number, the day(s) it’s on and the time. Knowing I would be half-asleep when I had to register for classes, I highlighted the course numbers in a pink highlighter. When it came to registering for classes, I was completely exhausted. (I don’t function well before noon). However, I didn’t have any trouble signing up for classes because the numbers I needed were highlighted right in front of me. Yes, the other information was important too but for registration purposes all I cared about was the course numbers. Highlighting consists of pointing out important facts (names, dates, etc.) but it’s just as important to have fun. Throw that boring yellow highlighter away—that’s so 90s. Try using blue, green or pink. By using a color you like (who really loves yellow, come on!) you may be more motivated to use highlighters. Plus, colors are more fun. Back in the day when I took art history, I would alternate which colors I used. This helped me prepare better for a test. Say we were getting tested on multiple forms of art, I would use a specific color for a specific topic. When it came time to taking the test, I would remember the piece of art with the designated color.

Save As

The way you save your files is one of the easiest ways to get organized, particularly when it comes to your computer. When you save a file, give it a name that’s specific enough so you will know two weeks or two months from now what it is. Last semester in Journalism 201, we had to write a story every week. That’s a lot of files. So I would save an article as “jrn201-Bulimia” for example, if the story was about bulimia. So far this semester, every week I have written an opinion piece for SNews, so I label each as “opinion-GettingOrganized,” for instance. In the long run, you know exactly what class or topic the file is about and you therefore know exactly what it is before opening it up.

Mr. Clean

If you have a couple of hours, clean! Clean out your tote bag or backpack. Clean out your desk and wherever else you do most of your work and have things lying around. If there’s something you don’t need, throw it out. If you’re not sure whether you need it, hold onto it until the semester is over. If you have a bunch of papers all over the place, put them in the proper class folder. The process itself is simple; it’s just a matter of doing it. But once you do, you’ll find you’ll have an easier time finding that essay you’re supposed to give to your professor in an hour.

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