Tips for the Disorganized Learner

As a second-year student juggling both my assignments and a twenty-hour work week, I’ve discovered the most important thing to learn is how to prioritize. I like to think I’ve gotten better at it this year, with less procrastination and more confidence. Because of this, I wanted to share some of the tips I taught myself since last year, and the best part is, it’s never to late to implement them.

Master List

Everyone has heard about the importance of keeping a calendar or agenda to stay organized. But if you are like me, it feels pretty much impossible to bother writing down anything in an agenda, or to check it daily.

At the beginning of each term I make what I call the master list. All you need to do is grab the syllabus for each of your classes and take note of every assignment, basically anything worth marks. Then you can make a simple word document with every class listed as a heading. Under the heading of each class write the title of the assignment, the date it is due, and how much the assignment is worth. I like to write down small extras such as the word or page count expected of each assignment. Once that is done pin the master list up somewhere you will see it everyday. Every time something is completed you scratch it off. Feel free to also add due dates for any extracurricular you may be involved in.

For me this technique helps to organize and prioritize my assignments, especially since you will quickly realize assignments are sort of done in two waves. The late September and October wave, and then the middle of November.

Flexible Schedule

A flexible schedule has been a life saver for me. I have many friends who abide by a strict routine when it comes to assignments. I, however, find that a flexible schedule works best. This does not mean procrastination, but it is more weekly goal oriented. I figure out what I need to accomplish that week and work to accomplish it. Finding time to tackle the goals is where the flexibility comes in. I have a non-negotiable schedule for work every week, which means my school work must be organized around my job. I find that if I make my school work have a rigid routine, the pressure to get things done builds. The most difficult thing about this type of organization is not allowing yourself to procrastinating and instead realize you are still getting your work done gradually. It is especially helpful when assignments take longer then expected.

Say No

This is all about keeping yourself from being overwhelmed. Obviously, your priority should be school work and your job if you have one. But it is still important to take time for yourself, as long as you don’t over do it. Sometimes it is just as important to know when to say no to work. As a workaholic, I find it difficult to do this, but at the start of every term I make sure there are a minimum of two days I can’t work. Being able to say no to either social events, or additional work is always important to keep yourself balanced and keep from being overwhelmed.

– Sarah