Mid-Semester Organization Tips

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In the middle of most semesters I find myself unorganized, with stray papers in every nook and cranny of my room, book bag, and sometimes under my bed. No matter how organized I am at the beginning of the semester, I always end up searching my room for ten minutes trying to find last night’s Spanish homework in a pile of papers.  But I eventually figured out a system for when I get in this state of chaos. There are steps I learned to take that help get me back to being organized.

Step 1: Lay It All Out

Take all of your school related belongings such as papers, notebooks, binders, and textbooks and spread them out in front of you, preferably on a large table or the floor since there will probably be a plethora of things.  Make sure you also have a trash bag, a hole puncher, and some binders or folders by you as well.

Step 2: Separate Subjects

Start taking all the loose papers you have and put them into piles according to your classes and any other extra activities you are involved in. Throw away any unimportant or random papers you find. Then hole punch all the papers and put them in their designated folders or binders. If having a single folder or binder for each class is too much, then try getting a one and a half inch or a two inch binder and make a tab for each of your courses. This method might vary depending on the types of classes you are taking and how much work you do or notes you take.

Step 3: Tackling the Planner

Odds are that if your binders are unorganized, your planner will be too. In college a planner is essential to staying organized with all your important dates, assignments, tests, and managing your time in general. So when you stop writing or referring to your planner, your life will start to reflect it with missing homework assignments, letting tests sneak up on you, and neglecting important projects. If this happens, start by evaluate your planner and see where you last wrote in it. Then take out all of your syllabuses and start mapping out the rest of your semester. Putting important dates in first would be a great way to start. Doing this will help you assess how busy you are going to be each week, as well as help you evaluate how much extracurricular activities you will be able take on.

After all the big due dates are mapped out in your planner, plan out how you will tackle each assignment. The ideal way to do this is to plan three weeks in advance for each large project. For instance, if you have a 6 page paper due, plan to brainstorm and outline your paper the first week. Then the next week you can break down how much you will write each day, maybe a page a day for six days. Then you have the last week to go back and revise and edit your paper to make it polished and ready to be turned in for grading. For exams, you can plan to break up times to study and put how long you intend to study each day up until the day of the exam. Spreading out important assignments makes them less stressful and helps you see that they are much more manageable than they may seem.

Step 4: Stay Organized This Time

After your binders, book bag, and planner are organized once again, it is important to maintain this organization till the end of the semester. Having an unorganized crisis is normal for mid-semester, however becoming unorganized towards final exams can prove to be even more stressful than being unorganized for a normal exam. Plus, you will probably have less time to reorganize yourself like you could in the beginning or middle of the semester. The goal for each semester is to stay organized for start to finish, but getting to the occasional chaotic state is normal, just as long as you take the steps to getting back on track and keep it up for the rest of the semester things should fly smoothly.