Don’t dismiss importance of staying organized
August 5, 2020
We all know at this point that organization is a useful skill to have; we’ve heard it a million times. But how often have we heard this notion and chosen to not change our habits?
Before moving into college, I was never a perfectionist when it came to keeping my room clean, organizing my schedule, writing things down or decluttering my spaces. Mostly because I didn’t really need to. I had my own room, high school assignments were easy to keep up with without writing every one down and I had extra space in my house where I could keep my things.
Once I moved to college, I learned that I didn’t really have much of a choice but to change these habits, given how life completely changed. If I had kept the same lifestyle, I would’ve missed deadlines, meetings, meals, workouts and even nights out.
Here are some things that saved my life as a lost freshman in college:
Keep it clean
I was lucky to have a roommate who was much, much more organized than I was. This led me to feel guilty whenever my side of the room looked like a tornado had flown through it, while hers was impeccably clean. Inevitably, I wanted both our sides to look equally as good, so I started making time in my day to clean up after myself. After a while, it became part of my routine. You will most likely live with one or more roommates; you no longer have the option to consider only your habits.
I strongly suggest forcing yourself to make your bed each morning. It’s a task that takes about two minutes but leaves the room feeling much more put together. Creating a habit out of this in college will help you to maintain it as you get older.
Don’t overpack. Dorm rooms are small, and they become your bedroom, living room and kitchen. Bringing too much into the dorm will make it feel like a cave with no open space. Be very picky about the clothes you bring, and consider buying more storage organizers than you think you might need.
Designate everything to a specific space. When you have exactly seven minutes to get to class and you can’t remember where you put your umbrella or calculator, I guarantee it’s not a fun time. Placing things in the same spot will save you so much time and won’t require you to turn the room upside down when looking for something.
Buy a planner
Once I realized that there were days in my schedule in which I had about 15 minutes to get in and out of the dining hall and get to my next class, I started planning my days carefully in my planner.
It might seem like a useless effort to write down time slots for everything, but sometimes it’s the only way to get everything done. It is hard to balance school work, sometimes a job, working out, campus involvement, eating all your meals and still have free time. Waking up and knowing that your day is already planned takes away the stress and anxiety that comes with “I’m not sure I have time to eat lunch today,” or “I don’t have enough time to workout because I have so much homework.”
Additionally, if you plan on being an involved student, there is no way you remember the times for all of your meetings, all of your deadlines, quizzes, tests, reading assignments and so on in your head. Get in the habit of writing down the times and locations for all meetings and pulling out your planner when your professors show you the weekly due dates for their classes.
An alternative option to buying a planner is using Google calendar or another online planner that allows you to do the same things.
There will be days where you simply don’t have enough hours to check everything off your to-do list. This is when it’s important to capitalize on the most important tasks.
I bought a planner that allows me to write down my top priorities for each week. This is how I reorder my to-do list from most to least important. It’s not necessary to write this down, but it sure helps.
When it comes to school work, focus on assignments that have the most point value.
Procrastination often gets in the way of proper prioritization. What I mean by this is, if you leave everything for the last minute, there won’t be room left for prioritizing. You’ll be left scrambling to finish all tasks at once, instead of having the leeway of choosing which responsibilities to focus on that day.
You’ll hear this from most of your professors, but big projects (those that are worth 10-20% of your grade) really are not meant to be done within a night. Set weekly check-points for assignments like this, with high priority, as they carry a significant point value.