Tips for staying organized your freshman year

June 27, 2012

Your first year of college might be both your most organized and your most disorganized. While you'll be trying your best to keep everything in order, it's also a brand new style of education and schedule - even after four years, a 10 p.m. class might seem unorthodox. But as you get used to college, your organizational habits will fall into place, your internal clock will adjust to your schedules and you'll be amazed how little sleep and individual can get by on - not to mention that you do have a taste for coffee and strong tea.

Until you've gotten into the rhythm, consider some of these tips for college freshman trying their best to stay ahead of the curve.

1. Buy a daily planner. Weekly or monthly planners won't cut it - you want plenty of space to write out the entire day's events, because your entire day will be packed. While you don't need to micromanage every hour all term, you will by the time finals roll around.

2. Keep your room clean. This will help your psychological organizational faculties more than you would guess. A cleanly ordered room usually means a cleanly ordered mind. And at the very least, if next week's laundry is done, it frees your attention up for academics.

3. Have a digital file drawer or twenty. Keeping your computer organized will never have been more important. If you've got a search function, use it, but also keep your hard drive in categorical order. Nothing is worse than a hectic digital dig for a document ten minutes before it's due in class.

4. Have a physical file drawer. When everything is sent to you via email or cloud sharing, it might seem odd to have a drawer for physical paper files, but not all professors are going to be internet-savvy, nor are you always going to want to read papers or syllabi on a screen. Paper hasn't made its way out of colleges yet and won't for a long time, so have an organized place to keep it.

5. Sleep. If your schedule and life seem discombobulated, get a good night's sleep. The brain has a habit of working these things out, and likely it won't all feel as overwhelming in the morning.

6. Always carry a pen or pencil. You never know when you'll need to write something down. Really.

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