This Fall, Get Organized!

OK, so you’re running late for your Monday morning class (again). You would have been on time, but you spent all Sunday watching TV (again), and had to stay up extra late to get your assignment done (again). Now, where the heck did you put that assignment? You tear through the pile of papers on your desk until you find it, crumpled and stained with last night’s coffee.
Sound familiar?
Now that you’re in college, you don’t have parents to bug you about keeping your room clean, or to tell you to turn off the TV and do your homework. As Spiderman says, “With great freedom comes great responsibility,” but when you’ve got no one to help you out, how do you stay organized?
You may not like it, but you’re going to have to make a sacrifice or two to get truly organized, starting with your precious weekend. Cancel your plans and put away your going-out top. It may suck now, but in the long-run, it will be worth it.
The first thing you need to stay organized is the right set of supplies. Get yourself up at a reasonable hour on Saturday morning and get your butt down to the school bookstore, or your local Staples or Target. You should buy:
A notebook for each class – Or, even better, one large notebook divided into sections, so you can keep all your notes in one convenient, not-as-easy-to-lose place.
A two-pocket folder or small binder for each class – to store all of those pesky class hand-outs that always seem to go missing
A day planner – Each day should have enough space to write down your class schedule and any assignments you get. My personal fav is the Moleskin Weekly Planner, because it has an extra blank page next to each week, but whatever works best for you.)
Lots of your favorite kind of pen (or pencil) – Don’t deny it. You know you have a favorite.
A stapler – Especially if you write a lot of papers—your teachers will thank you.
An accordion file
Optional (Depending on your preferences):
High-lighters (or highlight tabs)
Post-it notes
A flash drive—(If you can spare the extra dough.) You plug this little guy into the USB port in your computer so you can store a copy of your important files, which is perfect for those oh-crap-my-computer-just-froze moments, or to get said important files to the school print lab
OK. Now you’ve got that mountain on your desk to go through.
Sort your loose papers into piles—one pile for each class, and one pile of stuff you don’t need any more and won’t need ever again. That pile can go into the recycling bin. Then, go through each class pile and figure out what you need on a regular basis (your notes, syllabus, etc), and what you don’t (old completed assignments, etc). Put the stuff you don’t need into your new accordion folder for safe-keeping. The rest goes into your small binder or two-pocket folder. Don’t forget to go through your school bag as well, and make sure there’s nothing important floating around in the bottom.
Now that you’ve cleaned off the top of your desk, you’ll need to clean up your desktop (computer desktop, that is). In your “My Documents” folder, create a new folder for each class, and label it with the class title and semester/year (i.e. English 101 Fall 2008). Any assignments you do on your computer should go in these folders immediately, so you’re not scrambling to find them. If you type up your class notes, those go in the folders too.
Hey look! You are now relatively organized. When you head off to class, all you need to do is grab the appropriate notebook and folder, and you won’t find yourself scrambling for your syllabus or your take-home test. Keep your day planner stashed in your bag at all times, and make sure to record any assignments or big test dates (I like to write down a test reminder the week before, so I see it in advance).
As for your Sunday TV-watching habits, well, you’re gonna have practice a little self-control. But now that you’re organized, maybe those little assignments won’t seem so daunting—and now that you’ve cleaned off your desk, you’ll actually have a nice place to do some work!
Happy studying!
(Photo courtesy of Apartment Therapy.)

Booties: Love Em or Hate Em?
Booties: Love Em or Hate Em?
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