Organisation. We all want to be better at it, don’t we?
Starting university earlier this year, I’ve needed to get my head into gear on the organisation front. I was never a complete shambles, but there were definitely some aspects I could improve on, and there still are.
Now like I just previously mentioned, I haven’t been at uni very long, but I have developed a bit of a system to attempt to stay on top of all my work. However, in saying this, I’m sure that will change through the years as I continue through my studies.
Nonetheless, here are some organisational tips and tricks I’ve picked up from my first semester at university.
I LOVE COLOUR CODING. I feel like I just had to express my enthusiasm with capital letters, I’ll settle down now.
Anyway, colour coding is something I’ve done all through high school, and continued in university. What I do, essentially, is assign each subject/unit a colour (e.g. English – pink, Maths – blue, PE – green. etc.) and use that colour to represent that subject across everything organisation wise. Each subject’s notebook will be its corresponding colour, I’ll highlight using each subjects corresponding colour, use post-it note colours according to each subject, and when writing dates in my diary/calendar, I’ll use different colour pens to distinguish between each subject. Doing all this ensures everything is organised and separated, and things stand out, allowing me to see everything important at a glance.
This is how I organised all my notes. I know most people use their laptops these days, but I’m a bit old school and prefer to write things by hand or print things out. I pretty much will always try to get a hard copy of almost everything, lecture slides, weekly readings, assignment outlines – that’s just what I prefer.
Essentially what I do is at the beginning of the semester I will purchase a big lever arch folder, and slot in four different subject dividers, all colour coded, of course. On top of that, I will buy four sets of dividers numbered from 1 – 14 (or however many weeks are in your semester) to put in between the coloured dividers. This keeps not only all my subjects separate but each week’s work separate as well so I can find things with much greater ease.
I don’t take this folder to uni, as it holds A LOT and gets way too big, bulky, not to mention heavy! What I do instead is I carry a simple portfolio folder (those spiral folders with about 20 plastic sleeves) around campus, holding all the sheets I require for that day at uni (e.g. lecture slides, readings). On top of that, I’ll bring an A4 notebook to jot down any notes from tutorials. At the end of the day/week, I’ll transfer everything that was in the portfolio into the big lever arch folder, in the corresponding week’s divider.
I love a good to do list! I feel like they keep me on track, and ensure I don’t forget to do anything. More often than not, I’ll write mine on my phone, as it’s the most accessible for me, and I must admit, I go a bit crazy when it comes to to-do lists. What I do is, I’ll write four separate headings for each of my subjects, and underneath each heading, I’ll write everything (and I mean, EVERYTHING) I have to do for that particular subject. As I complete each task, I tick them off, the best part of constructing a to-do list, let’s be honest.
ORGANISING A WEEK IN ADVANCE
If possible, I like to get everything organised a week in advance. Now, this doesn’t mean completing coursework a week in advance – I’m not that organised! What I mean is, I’ll try to print everything such as lecture slides, weekly readings ahead of time so they are ready to go when I need them.
This prevents me from rushing around to print things in a frazzle the day before. I acknowledge that this may not be possible for everyone to do, but it’s something I find works for me, so I thought I’d include it.
DIARY / CALANDER
One of my goals for this year was to be more consistent at using my diary, because I have a bad habit of using them at the very beginning of the year, then neglecting them come February/March. Studying at uni had really made me realise how important it is to use a diary/planner because the fact is, a lot of assessment is due all around the same time, often amongst the space of a week or two (STRESSFUL), and if you don’t use a diary to jot everything down, you can lose track of things very easily – not ideal.
My uni (and even my high school, for that matter) provides free diaries at the beginning of the year, and I really enjoy using those ones because they include important dates specific to the university (census dates, exam periods, semester breaks, etc.), ensuring I don’t forget anything important.
If you use a diary, a calendar isn’t absolutely necessary; however, I enjoy using both. Using a monthly calendar, hung on my wall, allows me to view my month at a glance, again colour coded for better convenience.
WRITING THINGS DOWN!
Do you ever think “I don’t need to write that down, I’ll remember”? And every time you’re always wrong and you can never remember what you’re so sure you would remember. This just creates unnecessary stress that can be resolved through, you guessed it – writing things down. Due dates, tips from your lecturer, sudden ideas for your next assessment – anything. WRITE IT DOWN.
I really hoped this helped some people out there who are trying to work out how to organise themselves for university. I know I really struggled at the beginning when it came to deciding how to keep all my notes together, and just how to organise everything in general. I found it so daunting!
These methods may not work for everyone, but I hope at the very least they provide some ideas that you can adjust to suit your personal needs.
– Karen xx