Organization tips for student success in college: It’s time to create new habits

Now that you’re in college, the term papers and projects that you create can be a source of anxiety — but they are also an invaluable opportunity to hone your skills in research, organization and presentation. Although you may never use the concepts of algebra in your future career, you will need to demonstrate your ability to meet deadlines, collaborate and communicate every day of your professional life.

You can still learn how to be organized. (Credit: University of Virginia)

You can still learn how to be organized. (Credit: University of Virginia)

Being organized is key to achieving student success in college — so here are a few organization tips to help you get started.

Form new habits

One of the most valuable skills you can develop is time management. Start by setting long-term goals and then break them down into short-term goals. Prioritize the short-term goals into action steps and list them on your calendar to keep yourself on track. By doing this, you can begin to form a structured routine.

In a January 17, 2012, blog post for GradGuard titled, “Organization Tips and Skills to Help College Students Make the Grade,” students are encouraged to develop a routine that works for them.

“Attempt waking up and dozing off around similar times every day, if possible. Also try to maintain a standard study time every day where you typically find yourself being the most productive. Don’t forget to include pleasurable activities in this schedule such as exercising or bonding time with friends,” the article suggests.

Once you have figured out the time of day when your mind is sharpest, then make sure to set that time aside for studying and working on projects.

Organize your workspace

You’ll also want to make sure that your workspace is set up so that you can easily lay your hands on whatever book or tool you need. The folks at SpareFoot had a few suggestions in a July 18, 2012, article titled, “Set Up Your Student Workspace To Inspire Productivity.”

According to SpareFoot, “If you don’t use your scanner or printer every day, don’t keep it in your workspace. Limit what is allowed in your workspace so that only the things essential for studying are front and center. Organize your space into zones for workable space, office supplies, and reference materials.”

Save your hard work

Every semester you work like mad to write papers, create projects and complete presentations. What happens when the semester is over? You forget all about that stuff because you’re working hard on the next semester’s batch of projects and papers. What if you could save and access all of your work from one semester to the next?

In a May 19, 2008, post for Study Hacks titled, “Monday Master Class: How to Build a Knowledge Vault and Avoid Wasting an Entire Semester’s Worth of Work,” the writer suggests keeping track of important people, ideas, resources and data from each course in a system where you can retrieve it later. He calls such a system a “knowledge vault.”

“There are several advantages to maintaining a knowledge vault through your college career. […] You’d be surprised how often, when working on a paper in one class you’ll discover that some person, idea, or book from a previous class will provide a whole new insight. It saves time and makes you look exceptionally smart,” the author wrote.

Online tools to keep you organized

Okay, so how do you save all your past work in a way that you can find and use it easily? Happily, there are scads of online tools that you can access on your computer or any mobile device to help you stay organized and connect with instructors and fellow students any time and from any location. Here are just a few useful tools to help you keep your sanity.

  • Questia: The Internet’s largest online library offers its members research tutorials and tools to help organize information for papers and projects.
  • Brainify: Here, you can collect and share your favorite academic web sites, collections are created by the community of members, and there are online tutorials, research articles and online course materials from instructors across the country.
  • inClass: Free iPhone and iPad apps let you record audio or video, take text notes, record images of handouts and share on Facebook or iTunes.
  • iCyte: Better than a bookmark, iCyte lets you save and annotate web pages and retrieve them from any browser on a MAC or PC. Get a free account when you enter your .edu email address.
  • Toodledo: Create and manage your To-do list from anywhere and set alarms to remind you of deadlines. You can even work with others on shared projects using built-in collaboration tools.

These helpful organization tips should allow you to get a jump start on organization to prevent end-of-semester chaos from getting the better of you.

What other tips do you know for staying organized and achieving student success in college?

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