Get a Planner!
It might seem cliché, but using a planner is one of the easiest ways to stay organized! I use a planner for both school and work, and I can’t tell you how many times it has saved me from missing deadlines. With so many busy things going on in our lives, it’s nearly impossible to remember everything on your to-do list. Having a planner allows you to write down anything that you need to do, as well as reminders such as birthdays or events. It’s also helpful if you ever need to write down a note, but you don’t have a spare piece of paper; just scratch it down in your planner!
We’ve all told ourselves, “I’ll remember that for later.” Then, later comes and you have no idea what you were supposed to remember. Here’s an easy solution: set a reminder in your phone! Most phones have some kind of reminder app that you can use, or you can use the calendar app and set an alert to notify you. On iPhones, you can even turn notes into reminders. It’s a fast and easy trick to keep track of reminders.
If you’re a visual person like me, try using colors to organize! Maybe you remember back in grade school when you were required to get specific colored notebooks for certain subjects; this is the same thing! I like to assign colors to subjects and then use a respective-colored notebook, folder, and highlighter for that subject. Color coding is also helpful if you have a calendar with your schedule laid out; highlight each class with that applicable color. Not only does this trick keep you organized, but it also brightens up your school supplies as well!
Create a To-Do List/Prioritize
I’ve found that writing out my to-do list can be very helpful. When I have a lot to do, I tend to jump from task to task, doing things as I think of them. Writing your list down can help you stay focused. You don’t have to keep remembering what you need to do, because you can simply look at your list. This method can also help you prioritize. I like to number my lists and put the tasks that need to get done first at the top. Sometimes, I’ll also put the more challenging tasks at the top to get them out of the way.
Batch Related Tasks Together
If your to-do list allows it, try multitasking by doing related tasks at the same time. For example, I took a class called Survey of American Jazz which required readings and listening to sound tracks. I would listen to the sound tracks while doing the readings, which actually helped me better remember the information during the exams. You could also study while working out, watch video tutorials while folding laundry, read a textbook while cooking, etc. Multitasking can be can great way to get things done while saving time.
Preparing meals ahead of time is another great way to organize your time. Meal prepping is very popular right now, so you can find tons of recipes on the internet. Basically, you cook several meals all at once, and then freeze them in single portion sizes. When dinner time comes around, all you have to do is heat up a meal and it’s ready! This will save you a lot of time during the week because you won’t have to cook or go grocery shopping until it’s time to meal prep again!
I’ve also tried preparing ingredients individually rather than in meals. For example, I like to make omelets in the morning, so I’ll chop up all the ingredients and place them in containers in the fridge. This way, I can still have a fresh omelet, but I save time during the preparation.
Prepare the Night Before
Similar to meal prep, you can save time by preparing for the morning. Often times, I’ll pick out my outfit for the next day before I go to bed. This is helpful anyway since my roommate is usually still sleeping, and then I don’t have to pick out my clothes in the dark. I also like to pack my backpack and lunch for the next day. This helps me save so much time in the morning because I can just grab and go, rather than having to make decisions when I’m still half asleep.
Keep Your Phone Out of Reach
In this day and age, you can’t deny that we’re all addicted to our phones. Phones can be so distracting and make studying nearly impossible! When it comes down to it, you just have to put it away! If you want to spin it in a more positive light, use your phone as incentive to get homework done. Once you’ve completed a task, reward yourself with phone time.
Use Break Times Effectively
Do you ever have a break that’s kind of short but not that long? It’s too soon to go to your next class, but not quite enough time to go back home or to your dorm. Use that time to study! It’s the perfect opportunity to go through flashcards, look over notes for an exam, or even add a paragraph to your paper. While it doesn’t seem like much, it’s more effective than scrolling through Facebook!
Use the 80/20 Rule
The 80/20 rule is based on the Pareto Principle, which (according to https://www.briantracy.com/blog/personal-success/how-to-use-the-80-20-rule-pareto-principle/) suggests that the worth of two out of ten tasks is greater than the total worth of the other eight tasks. In other words, if you create a list of ten tasks and complete the top two priorities on that list, you will have completed the most important work for the day. Working hard to accomplish a couple bigger tasks is more effective than accomplishing several little tasks which don’t have much value.
Don’t Be Afraid to Say No!
While it may seem like we’re invincible and can say yes to everyone and everything, this is unfortunately not the case. We can’t do everything, and that’s just the way it is. It’s okay to say no! If you’ve already got a lot on your plate, don’t make more work for yourself. And don’t feel bad because you said no. It’s better to turn down a task that you know you can’t do than to let someone down because you didn’t follow through with your promise. If you think you can handle the task, by all means, go for it! Just make sure to keep track because only you can decide how much you can and can’t handle.
Make Time for Yourself!
And lastly, the most important thing to remember is to take care of yourself! College can be stressful, but your health and wellness are more important. Remember to give yourself some free time! Whether that’s watching Netflix, going to the gym, or just hanging out with friends, take some time to relax and socialize. With your busy schedule, you deserve it!