Hot Take: how to stay organized this school year

Courtesy of USNews

Whitney Ervin, Features Editor

A simple Google search of organization tips can lead to a never-ending list of articles filled with a lot of the same advice.

Usually along the lines of keeping a detailed planner, sticking to a schedule, and not procrastinating on important tasks. These are always accompanied by the advice that it takes seven days for it to become a habit. 

As someone who is disorganized and a chronic procrastinator, this kind of advice just doesn’t tend to work for me. At the start of every new semester, I promise myself that this will be the semester I finally get myself together. Always starting out with high hopes, but long forgotten within a week or two. I don’t have much of a routine, and so things don’t tend to become habits. To put it simply, I am a train wreck; I have found most people are in their own charming ways. If you happen to be the same brand of a train wreck as me, I can offer some advice. 

Here are five things I do to keep myself on track:

  1. Setting phone reminders with as many notifications as possible. 

It’s difficult for me to sit down long enough to focus on creating a detailed planner. Often, I’ll commit to it for a week or so then it ends up getting tossed in the backseat of my car where it will stay forever. However, like most 20-somethings my phone is always in reach. 

As soon as I know I have a deadline, I will put it in the reminders of my phone and set it up to send as many notifications as possible. Nothing quite pulls me out of that early morning Wikipedia rabbit hole I often find myself going down like getting a reminder saying ‘HEY I HAVE THINGS TO DO TODAY.’.

  1. Take handwritten notes instead of using a laptop. 

I love my laptop as much as the next person, but I often find that it’s more distracting than helpful, especially during class. If I write something down, I tend to remember it better, plus I don’t get as distracted (although you’d never guess that by the multitude of doodles on my note pages.) 

  1. Tell someone else about your plans. 

It’s easy for me to get lost in my own thoughts. The next thing I know the things I’m supposed to remember are replaced by random daydreams or musings about other things I want to do. Something about voicing the things I need to do, makes them more concrete. It’s also just a relief to talk things out. Plus, if it’s something I’ve spoken out loud, I just tend to remember it. 

  1. Break big tasks into smaller pieces. 

Sometimes looking at a task or assignment as one big block of work can feel exhausting. My mind starts working through all the details and the next thing I know I’m filled with dread and procrastination sets in. This used to lead to me having to pump out whatever mediocre work I could manage in the smallest amount of time. The number of assignments due at 11:59 PM that I have turned in at 11:58 PM is embarrassing.

Instead of waiting until the last minute to finish an entire big task, I break it up into smaller pieces. It satisfies that part of my brain that doesn’t want to work on the whole thing at once, but I also feel better knowing I’m at least making progress. 

  1. Take time out of your day to do something nice for yourself. 

Everyone needs a moment to destress, and I personally am guilty of trying to take on too much at once. As the semester progresses, it’s easy to get buried under daunting due dates and forget to do anything for yourself. Even if it’s just something as simple as going to get an iced coffee or playing a video game, it’s important to have at least a little bit of time to unwind. Taking care of yourself is the most important thing, and taking care of yourself ensures you have the ability to take care of all the other important tasks at hand. 

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