Organization, like exercise, is a habit that must be built and refined over time. Moreover, just like with exercise, there’s a certain method of organization that works best for each individual. And while it comes more naturally to some more than others, organization takes a certain degree of work and dedication no matter what type of person you are.
Over the past year, with so many things up in the air, even the most color-coding, planner-wielding, schedule-adhering Honors student has probably found it challenging to stay grounded. I believe myself to be an organization-inclined person by nature, but I’d be lying if I said there weren’t occasional moments of weakness these past two semesters where a planner entry went empty or an important due date (almost) passed me by.
In times like this, one must persuade — or, dare I say, bribe — themselves to stay organized. Organization doesn’t have to be writing out chores on a sad little sheet of looseleaf or meticulously plotting your daily activities hour-by-hour. It can be rewarding and fun.
From those who rely completely on their memory and a little luck to stay on top of things, to those who have carved out a weekly time to read 186 South College blog posts, here are some actually engaging methods of staying organized to help get you through the upcoming, semi-normal semester.
You always have your phone on you anyway (one pint of UDairy says it’s less than a foot away from you right now). Use your phone calendar to keep track of your schedule and due dates. You can also use it to set reminders and choose a cute or startling notification sound depending on how urgent the matter at hand is.
Phone calendars, however, are just a start. You may be inclined to stick with that convenient calendar widget on your phone, but phones break. Phones glitch. Phones sort of do whatever they want to do on occasion, which leads me to my next tried and true method of keeping it together.
Long gone are the days of bland student planners. A market currently exists for every visual taste and organizational style. Many planners feature pages for months, weeks, and days at a glance, with occasional sections for to-do lists, notes, and goals. Plus, they sometimes include state-of-the-art features like pockets, rulers, and (drum roll please) STICKERS!
Does my planner look like a third grade art project? Perhaps. Do I know every single thing that needs to get done in an aesthetically pleasing manner? You bet I do.
Small notebook or notepad
A small notebook or notepad (or really anything portable that contains paper) is especially helpful for when you’ve forgotten your planner and/or your phone has died. You can also utilize it to jot down ideas, personal short-term and long-term goals, or important notes about something that, try as you might, you won’t remember a week from now. Go the extra mile and get one that includes a convenient pen attachment. At the very least, you can pretend you’re a budding poet or an undercover detective as you scribble away.
I also recommend keeping it by your bedside; if you suddenly think of something you need to get done, rather than letting it keep you from sleeping, write it down.
Whiteboard, bulletin board, or chalkboard
You’ve got wall space. Why not use it efficiently? You can use any of these to either write down or hang up reminders or tasks — or doodle. Your call. Some boards come pre-designed in calendar, weekly, or “To Do” formats. With the added help of magnets or thumbtacks, you can also put up photos of your loved ones, friends, and pets so you can be nostalgic for the past while looking towards the future.
Some notepads come equipped with a handy strip of magnet glued to the back. Attach it to your fridge to remember what needs to be bought or cooked, or what belongs to who in the room/apartment. You can also use it to remind yourself of a pressing chore whenever you grab a study break snack. Hang it on the aforementioned whiteboard or chalkboard so you’ll literally have layers of organization. In allowing you a little more space on your desk, dresser, or floor, it’ll also help keep your room tidy
Sticky notes come in all shapes, sizes, and colors (my room will probably be wallpapered in Gudetama-themed ones by the time you read this). They’re especially great for attaching little reminders to your desk, walls, mirror, or roommate’s forehead. But be sure to recycle your sticky note once you’ve addressed whatever task or message it carries (and snap a photo of your roommate before they peel it off). Additionally, if you’re looking to save paper and/or open your laptop often, most include a sticky note feature.
As a utilizer of all of these methods, I can vouch for their efficiency in my life, but their effectiveness will probably vary by lifestyle and personality. If any of these pique your interest, I recommend at least giving it a try; you can put your own spin on it to fit your needs or drop it completely if it doesn’t end up working for you.
Here’s to a fantastic, safe, successful semester!