Fall semester is here, and campus is bustling once again. For a lot of us, that means a quick switch in gears from I’m-relaxing-and-having-a-blast-because-it’s-summer-mode to holy-cow-why-do-I-have-this-much-homework-when-am-I-supposed-to-sleep-mode. Need a little help getting organized, or just finding a way to keep yourself from completely losing it? Here’s my best advice:
1. Organize EVERYTHING.
Clean your room. Organize your backpack. Fish the McDonald’s receipts out from the cup holders in your car. Update your GCal. Throw the expired food out of your refrigerator. ORGANIZE ALL OF IT. Numerous studies have shown that clutter and disorganization tends to stress you out and make you less healthy and feel more tired. Plus, your professors will be a lot more impressed when it doesn’t take you 10 minutes just to fish a pencil out of the bottom of your backpack.
2. WRITE to-do lists. (Yeah, like on paper)
I’m a huge fan of hand-written to-do lists, mostly because there are few things more satisfying than crossing tasks off a list once you’ve finished them. Whether I’m at work or school, I like to make myself a new to-do list each day. Transfer over any things you haven’t completed yet from your last list, then add in any new things you need to focus on for the day, and prioritize them by when they need to be done. Don’t be afraid to write down things that’ll take ~literally 2 seconds~ or things you’ve just completed. Crossing off more things will give you an extra boost of look-at-me-and-how-productive-I-am confidence.
3. Use a calendar.
I won’t deny it, I probably love my GCal more than I love my mom on most days (sorry, mom). I put e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g on my calendar, color-coded, of course. I start with things like class times, work schedules, and events, adding as many details as possible about location, professors’ names, etc. Don’t be afraid to utilize the “description” section! It makes it so easy to find info in a pinch. When I get my syllabuses, I add in things like exam dates and due dates for major assignments. Set a notification for a few days in advance, just to make sure that 10-page paper doesn’t catch you completely off-guard. Then, as the semester picks up, I even start to add in times to study, work on specific assignments, etc. That way I don’t have to deal with the whole “omg do I even have time to get all this done tonight??” because I know I have time, and it’s all scheduled! This also leaves a great opportunity to schedule breaks or switch-ups between subjects, just to keep your brain from getting completely fried.
If GCal isn’t your thing, I still recommend using a calendar! There are plenty of other calendar apps out there, and paper planners are amazing too! If you’re looking for an easy creative outlet, check out bullet journals!
4. Don’t be afraid to take time off.
For me, time off is kind of made possible by the last 3 items combined. If you have your organization/cleaning/scheduling all under control, you won’t have to use up all your free time cleaning your house or trying to figure out where the heck you left your paper after you printed it. Typically, I try to be a few days ahead on all of my assignments (nerdy, I know). This allows me to be able to just go home and watch Netflix after a horrible day without falling behind. Or if you’re really good, you can look ahead on your calendar and realize that next Thursday is going to suck. Get everything you need to do that day out of the way ahead of time, giving yourself a chance to relax after a long day.
5. Don’t lose sight of why you’re doing all of this.
College is hard. I’ve cried, I’ve wondered why on earth I haven’t dropped out yet, I’ve longed to move back into my parents’ house where they cook and clean and fold my laundry and no one threatens to fail me if I’m late to something. Everyone else has too, no matter how hard they try not to show it. But, we’re all doing it for a reason. And a good one. Whether you’re crazy passionate about your major, trying to save the world, trying to make a better life for your future family, or just trying to get a dang degree, don’t lose sight of that. Remember, the things that are hardest to achieve are almost always the most rewarding. Future you will thank you for your hard work.