7 Back-to-School Organization Hacks for Disorganized Students
It’s back-to-school season, so do you ever sit around your classroom and wonder “how the heck does everyone else stay so organized”?
Do you find yourself feeling like a disorganized mess? Are you’re always rushing to class, scrambling to find homework, or sitting in Italian 101 when you’re supposed to be taking your Trig final (Mama Mia!)?
Not to worry if this sounds like you, because we’ve got 7 back-to-school organization tips – hacks, if you will – that make organizing your student life as easy and simplistic as boiling those instant Ramen noodles packets you eat for 3 meals a day!
NOTE: Staying organized makes life SO MUCH EASIER. Actually, 70% of school is showing up and staying organized, and it all boils down (like Ramen) to good habits and routine. If you don’t start following a routine and let your bad habits get the best of you, none of these organizational tips will do you any good.
With that, let’s get to the 7 back-to-school hacks for helping you get organized this semester and beyond…
#1) First, Download an Organizational App for Students
It takes 5 minutes to download an organizing app, and they are literally life changing.
You can keep track of homework, set alarms, write down your schedule, set reminders, keep track of group projects, and even create to-do lists. Now you won’t waste hours stressing over what has to be done or where you have to be. It will all be in one app and the app will tell you exactly what you have to do.
The best planner app for students is definitely Habitica.
At times, there are aspects of life can feel like a role-playing game. So with that in mind, Habitica makes organization fun!
You create a fantasy character that earns points and skills every time you complete a quest, and by that we mean task, which rewards your progress with items and monster duels! It’s a super fun and entertaining way to motivate yourself to study and develop good habits too.
Other, less exciting but more practical apps are:
PRO TIP: Keep everything in one place! If you start using multiple apps, or even physical planners, you will likely make things too complicated for yourself. Resist the temptation to download them all! One app equals an organized life, having many at once may make you feel like you’re disorganized all over again.
#2) Set Goals at the Beginning of the Week
This is a great productivity hack in general.
Setting goals at the beginning of the week gives you something to strive for. Studies have shown that setting concrete goals actually motivates you to achieve them. That means you’ll actually want to study for your exams or get your homework done.
Goals need to be clear and measurable. Examples of goals are:
- I will attend every class this week
- I will have a rough draft of that stupid Philosophy essay on “The Problem With Evil” by Thursday
- I’ll read ahead in my English Literature novel so I have extra time next week for other tasks
- I will lose 45lbs. of water weight by skipping Ramen noodles for breakfast tomorrow
You should be able to define the goal and be able to measure its success accordingly.
So, did you attend every class this week? Yes? Well then, consider that successfully completing your goal! And if you didn’t, well its up to you to measure whether or not making it to only half of your classes is enough to consider your goal achieved. (It’s not, obviously…)
#3) Put Notes on Your Bedroom Door
If you’re anything like us here at the office, you wake up with a few minutes to spare, put on whatever is closest, and rush out the door most likely forgetting half of the things you need.
Just kidding, that’s definitely not the organizational freaks here.
But if that does sound like you, putting sticky notes on your bedroom door is a great way to remind yourself of what you need to bring with you that day.
Stuff like this:
“Bring XYZ textbook to class today” or “Don’t forget today is group project day!” and “Bring an extra t-shirt for the gym!”.
It’s a great organizational hack if you’re a forgetful person, or someone who just finds themselves rushing in the morning. That’s why its so important to have to-do lists, which are vital for reminding you about what needs to get accomplished that day.
Fun fact: Habitica provides you with reminders, and a really, really fun way to build to-do lists that also measure your goals. Did we mention you can also battle monsters?!
#4) Keep One Notebook for Each Subject
This might be common sense for normal people but for disorganized folk, it just feels natural to take notes in whichever notebook you happen to have with you that day – most likely the one within arm’s reach of your desk and/or bedside.
Having just one notebook for each of your course subjects makes taking notes, studying, and absorbing information 10x easier. In fact, it’s a proven study habit to help you get better grades.
Make sure it’s clearly labelled: Trig Notebook #1, Logic #2, etc.
PRO TIP: Set your notebooks out the night before so you don’t go rushing around your dorm room or apartment desperately searching for the one you need that morning! Or, if you do your note taking with a laptop, be sure to organize your files so that they’re easy to find on your computer.
#5) Create Study Materials As You Go (The Ultimate Game Changer)
OK, this one is seriously mind blowing.
Instead of going back at the midway point or at the end of a course, create your own “Sparknotes” or cheat sheet as you go.
That way, you don’t have to go through an Encyclopedia Britannica’s worth of notes when study time comes.
Here’s what we mean….
You know when you’re going to study for a final or mid-term? Usually, students just go through all of their notes and highlight the important things and then cram, pray, and take the test.
This is a time waster and brain killer. You use up valuable hours and brain cells just sifting through the notes and by the time you find the important stuff you feel too fried to absorb it anyway.
Instead, highlight important info as you go along and create a separate cheat sheet with the most important information so you can quickly digest it when study time comes. Now, when it’s time to study you won’t have to go through your entire notebook. You’ll just have a study guide for your final exam handy.
PRO TIP: If the professor blatantly states “This will be on the final”, then WRITE THAT IN YOUR FINAL STUDY GUIDE!
#6) Live by the “Two-Minute Rule”
Productivity expert David Allen popularized the “two-minute rule”, and it actually has worked wonders for us at the office too.
If something takes less than two minutes – say, sending a classmate an email about homework or filling out a field trip form – don’t wait, get it done!
A big issue for students is small tasks piling up and becoming big, overwhelming tasks that now suddenly all have the same deadline.
Or worse, small tasks piling up and you turning them into big tasks by overthinking them, then getting angry at yourself for letting small tasks pile up and distract you from the big picture. Then getting angry at yourself at the fact that you’re getting angry at yourself for that. See how this snowballs?
Avoid frustration at all costs. When you do something immediately and get it off your plate, you’ll feel a sense of relief, and life actually gets way easier. You will most certainly level up your productivity and have the urge to get more tasks completed, which helps keep you organized and on-track.
#7) Eliminate All Distractions THE RIGHT WAY
We usually dislike when articles give obvious tips, but this one needs to be covered.
Eliminating distractions while planning your day, studying, or organizing your thoughts is key, but most people do it wrong.
Here are 3 hacks we’ve learned that will help you eliminate distractions the right way:
- Turn off notifications on your phone and web browser
- Use Getcoldturkey.com to block access to all your favorite sites
- Use the Pomodoro Technique (25 minutes of work followed by a 5 minute break)
With no notifications breaking your concentration and none of your favorite sites taking your attention, you’ll get 50 solid minutes of work in every hour. That’s a lot of time to be productive!
With these productivity hacks, anyone can stay organized and crush the coming school year. Remember, it’s all about forming good habits.
And one final app that will be sure to help students from all walks of life is Soda PDF, which can do a whole lot to make even the disorganized student stand out from the crowd! Try a free download today and see how much easier note taking and studying can be with Soda PDF!