Maintain a clutter-free semester


Brittany Moon/Iowa State Daily

An agenda and sticky notes are among the numerous items that can help students stay organized this semester.

Brittany Moon

Beginning a fresh semester can seem daunting. This is especially true for new and returning students who haven’t developed a rhythm of organization and time management.

Tips for how students can stay on track throughout the semester

First, buy a well laid-out planner. This is a crucial part of organization and can be the difference between poor grades and straight As. Find a planner or agenda that works for you, whether it is small and bright or big and neutral. 

The next step to becoming organized is to create a spreadsheet of assignments for the upcoming semester. This can include quizzes, in-class assignments, group and individual projects, as well as exams and other deadlines. This spreadsheet can save a lot of stress and time spent turning pages to find due dates in the class syllabus.

It’s important to include the dates assignments are due and the classes they pertain to, as well as a short title and point value. Having crucial student information in one place is one of the many benefits of being organized.

Once you have printed the master syllabus of assignments and due dates you can fill in all major due dates in the planner. Having these deadlines recorded in more than one place will keep the information fresh in your mind and put you on track to get everything completed on time.

Having both sets of due dates written down is essential, but it isn’t effective unless they are with you at all times. Having both sets can be a good reminder to work on assignments between classes and during slow portions of class.

Using sticky notes is another trick many organized folks use on a daily basis. A brightly-colored sticky note placed on top of the day of a big presentation or exam can be a red flag or reminder to get some extra studying and preparation done a few days in advance.

Sticky notes work wonders as deadline reminders. Another color-coded concept is using a different colored pen for different activities like class, school work, clubs and work. Using colors and knowing what life event they correlate with can be tremendously helpful.

The final tip is to keep a clean desk and workspace.

Whether you complete your work at a desk, drawing table or coffee table, having a clean space can help keep distractions minimal. Clutter and unnecessary items in front of someone’s eyes can be distracting and lead to less productivity. One way to address this issue is to keep a few organizational items on your desk, such as a paper stand, small cup of pens and pencils, stack of sticky notes and a relaxing scented candle, if permitted.

Keeping these concepts in mind at the start of a new semester can help maintain a steady flow of organization. Keeping your life organized takes work and dedication but it can lead to having more peaceful downtime.