How to be more organised in 6 easy steps
Juggling deadlines and commitments at university can be tricky. Getting yourself organised will save you a whole lot of time, stress and money!
With a million and one things going on at once – everything from additional electives, course assignments and extracurricular activities to coffee and beer appointments – it's easy to lose track of what's going, what you need to do and when.
How many times have you tried to tell yourself “it's fine to leave it all to the last minute, I work well under pressure” and it's ended disastrously?
Being organised is easy to master once you put a few small things in place, and it will save you a whole lot of stress, time and cash (time is money in the uni game) if you keep on top of it all.
6 tips to stay organised
Keep a diary
This might sound a bit old school (and just to be clear, we're not talking Bridget Jones style diary), but carrying a paper diary is a really useful tool to keep you organised.
Go for a relatively small one so you won't hate carrying it around in your bag, but big enough that you can write a to-do list if needs be. Moleskine have a really conveniently-sized diary range that give you a small page for each day – this is our top pick.
Using a diary helps you to keep track of all the deadlines you have ahead of you, and you can even put warning messages to yourself in the days approaching a deadline (e.g. ‘Sociology paper due one week from now') so you don't get any nasty surprises and you can scare yourself into being uber prepared.
Learning how to use a diary properly will reduce your stress levels massively: Once you're in the habit of checking your diary daily and whipping it out to take note every time you have a new commitment, nothing is gonna catch you out and make you panic.
Write to-do lists
We are massive fans of lists…as this article probably demonstrates.
The best thing about a ‘to-do' list is the sense of achievement you feel as you score things off. Even a day in bed on your laptop can make you feel like you've had the most productive day ever if you manage to score off everything you needed to do on your list.
If you feel you've got a lot of work piling up, break it all down into smaller tasks and split them across a few days' lists (your diary will come in handy here).
This way, you can be comforted knowing that if you manage even just a little bit of what you need to do each day, you're still on track to have it all done on time if you follow your daily lists.
If you don't manage to complete everything on your list for the day, transfer any unfinished tasks onto the next day (but try to avoid this as much as you can, otherwise you'll end up with a list that keeps growing and growing!
Get enough sleep
You're never going to feel like you're on top of things when you've only managed a few hours sleep. It's recommended that you get about eight hours sleep a night, and you'll be surprised by how much more in control you'll feel when you're well-rested and alert.
If you're exhausted, the chances of you missing appointments or classes is much higher, and you'll lack the motivation to tackle any of your to-do lists!
Trouble sleeping at night? Check out our post on how to tackle sleeping problems at uni.
If you're a Parks and Rec fan like us, you'll enjoy this tip straight out of Leslie Knope's book…
Folders will become your new best friend on your road to becoming organised. They're perfect for storing lecture notes, seminar work or anything else that'll be useful to your studies – including important documents like utility bills or any material sent to you from the uni.
You'll save yourself a helluva lot of time searching for relevant material by already storing things in the right place so they're quick to locate.
We'd suggest stocking up on some super cheap folders near the start of term which you can add to as the year progresses.
Learn how to say ‘no'
British people are notoriously bad at saying ‘no', but not having the guts to turn something down if you don't have the time or headspace for it could really affect your studies and your stress levels more generally.
If you have a deadline coming up that you're struggling with, and a classmate asks you for help – it's ok to say you can't do it. Don't feel obliged, that's what tutors are there for anyway!
Similarly, if you've got lots of commitments on and your work ask you to work some extra hours, just say no!
Last but not least – remember that getting into a flap about having too much on won't solve anything.
Don't panic! Take a few deep breaths and start tackling one thing at a time… go back to the top of this list and work your way through, you'll get back on track in no time 😉
Being super organised will set you up perfectly for a great degree result. But just how ambitious are you? Check out our guide to getting a first at university for some extra motivation.
Got any organisational tips you'd like to share? Drop 'em in the comments below!