The beginning of a new semester can be overwhelming: the whirlwind of classes, new classmates and professors, and the start of assignments and long-term projects. You can help minimize the stress by organizing yourself, your materials, and space before classes begin. Start the semester organized with these five tips:
1. Create a daily/weekly schedule
Once you’ve finalized your class schedule, create a timesheet – either on your computer or by hand – that shows when and where your classes are. It can be helpful to have a visual representation showing the blocks of time you must set aside, so you can easily see which days will be your busiest and how to plan ahead. If you like, block out periods of study time, as well as extracurricular and personal activities like working out or attending a club meeting. Print this sheet or have it easily accessible on your computer. When you need to schedule an appointment with a professor or hang out with a friend, you’ll be able to easily see what times work best for you, helping you to manage your time as a whole.
2. Decide on a planner
There are so many different ways to start the semester organized, but it helps many visual students to use a planner. Think about what you’ve used in the past, and decide what organizational system you want to use this semester. Consider the calendar app on your phone or computer, a wall calendar, an assignment notebook, or planner. Take advantage of alarms and alerts you can set on your phone, as well as sticky notes or little notebooks in which you can write down to-do lists. Make sure you have a place to list important dates, events, and meetings, in addition to email addresses, phone numbers, and assignments to complete.
3. Buy supplies and books
One of the more fun beginning-of-the-year activities from childhood is buying school supplies. Make sure you do that as an older student as well. Go to the store and purchase notebooks, binders, folders, writing utensils, and organizational tools for your desk. You might be able to repurpose old notebooks or folders from previous years. Additionally, be sure to purchase or rent all of the books and texts required for the semester. The campus bookstore should have the books you need, but if you like, you can sometimes find cheaper copies online.
4. Organize your room and desk space
At the beginning of the year, take time to organize your room and desk space. This includes designating places for supplies like notebook paper, handouts you receive from class, writing utensils, staplers, tape, etc. You’ll want to look into desktop storage options, like bookends, mini drawer sets, letter trays, file shelves, or cup organizers. If you know where your materials are, you should have more time for actual studying.
5. Make a list of important contacts
Be sure to keep a list of contact information close at hand. This can be of individual people, but also of important places on campus, like the career center, the health center, the writing center, tech support, and your department of study.
Before your semester starts, decide how you want to organize both your physical space and your mind. This way, you should be more mentally prepared for busier and more stressful weeks. Don’t forget that you can reevaluate what has been working for you along the way and tweak as needed.