How to stay organized

Illustration by Sara Esnan.

Midterm season is upon us, and before you know it exams will be here. You may feel like school is taking over your life one assignment at a time, but that’s okay because so does everyone else. However, it’s not too late to get a step ahead of the game, and finish off the semester feeling confident by staying organized. These five simple steps will help make school the least of your troubles… or at least, lower on your list.


Use a planner

Whether you prefer the classic paper and pen or something digital you can access from your phone and laptop, it’s important to have a planner. It is equally important to have only one planner; find your preference and stick to it. Writing down your appointments and deadlines on different mediums is a ticking time bomb, making it very easy to forget to write down important dates in both and, as a result, missing them. Keep your planner handy at all times. As soon as you get a new assignment or make an appointment, write it down.


Make a to-do list

As simple as it seems, creating a weekly to-do list is a great way of staying on top of things. Not only does it lay out exactly what you need to get done for the week, but it also allows you to organize your tasks in order of priority. Not to mention, crossing things off your to-do list is extremely motivating. You can visually track the progress you’re making throughout the week.


Set personal deadlines

Personal deadlines are the best way to ensure you’re never scrambling to finish an assignment at the last minute. At the beginning of each month, take a look at all the assignments you have due for that month. Assign yourself personal deadlines that are a few days before that actual due date of each assignment. This tip is especially important when you have multiple assignments due on the same day, or during the same week. Spread your deadlines out to give yourself ample time to complete everything.


Keep your workspace clean

No matter where you do your homework, whether it’s a home office or your bedroom, it’s important to keep your workspace clean. An orderly work environment makes it much easier to get your assignments done because there are no distractions. I find working in an organized space also helps me feel more relaxed. Trying to finish an essay in a room full of clutter adds anxiety that can easily be avoided.


Don’t bite off more than you can chew

It is very common to want to please the people in our lives, such as friends, family and co-workers. However, it is important to say no sometimes. If you feel that you have a lot on your plate already it’s okay to politely decline. School is stressful enough on its own, so if you feel you don’t have time for something, don’t commit to it. If you do commit, always make sure to check your planner to ensure you don’t have any conflicting dates or deadlines. Prioritizing is essential in organization.