Whether you’re starting out at uni for the first time or returning for your final year, this is the perfect time to polish your organisation skills and set up good lifelong habits.
Earn good grades? Check.
Exercise semi-regularly? Check.
Text family back? Check.
Don’t eat too much ramen? Check.
Stay sane and not lose it at all the things on this list? Um…check?
It seems impossible to squeeze everything into 24 hours but there is something that will help you stay on top of it all: organisation. We know – we can hear you sigh from here. But organisation skills aren’t just for the Type A in your life who gets their kicks colour coding. It really is something everyone can benefit from, and it doesn’t have to be boring or take a long time. In fact, it can save you time so you can get back to more important (and fun) things.
If you want to get organised for university and be that student you always secretly imagined you’d be one day, read on.
1. Physical clutter = mental clutter
A desk overflowing with random pens, papers and knickknacks. The email account with hundreds, if not thousands, of unread emails. That ever-growing pile of clothes that are worn but too clean to put away and now live draped over a chair. Your study materials haphazardly stuffed away for “when you have time”. Does any of this sound familiar?
You might not think a messy environment equals a messy mind but research shows it kind of does. Likewise, those nagging unfinished tasks have a negative cumulative effect on the brain. So you’ll probably want to nip these habits in the bud. One super easy tip is “don’t put it down, put it away”.
2. Download helpful apps
While we generally recommend putting the phone away to boost productivity, apps can be a fantastic tool for both productivity and organisation.
Become more efficient with your study time thanks to Focus To-Do. For a to do list that includes reminders and deadlines, Microsoft To Do is great. Need an easy-to-use budgeting system? Download You Need A Budget. And to help you schedule class times, homework, notes, and other uni tasks, we like Class Timetable.
3. A to do list that works
Okay, fess up. Are you guilty of writing lists that are either scribbled on random pieces of paper or as a note in your phone that you barely look at again?
Here’s how to nail a to do list:
- Do the easiest task first
- List only a handful of items
- Make sure each item is action oriented
- Keep a master list but have a smaller working list each day or week
- Separate it into work, study, life, etc
- Order each item by priority. You can also colour code or number code.
4. Do it early (or do it now)
Your brain can only take so much trying to mentally juggle all those different tasks, so lighten the load by doing things as soon as they come in. It’s simple but it really is key. If you finish a tutorial and you have notes, immediately put them in that subject’s folder. Practice being conscientious and taking your responsibilities seriously, and your future self will thank you. In fact, being conscientious is one of the main predictors of success.
If you’re a habitual procrastinator, allocate just five or ten minutes to a task and no more. That task doesn’t have to be a major event like completing an assignment; it could be as simple as learning uni lingo as a first year student or understanding how to set reasonable goals. Or, maybe you can begin practising the art of notetaking well and truly before exam stress sets in.
5. The KISS principle
There are a million podcasts, apps, websites, and YouTube channels telling you what to do and when. The trick is to not get overwhelmed or make too many changes, because this is a recipe for disaster. If you just try a few things – for example, downloading a study timer app and putting away your notes as soon as class finishes – you’re already on the right track.