Tuesday, January 12th, 2021...1:51 pm

6 Easy ways to organize your life

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By: Georgia Maxwell, Gradlife Ambassador

a jumble of cards with five organized in the middle of the table

One of my New Year’s resolutions is to be more organized, probably because I am a mess. If this is one of your resolutions too, or perhaps just a general life goal, I did some research into some of the best ways to stay organized during the term. While some might be more useful to you than others, I hope they spark your creativity! If you already use these methods, then I am eternally jealous and I hope that this semester I will be just like you.

1. Keep an agenda

Did anyone else have to keep one of these in elementary school and have their parents sign it every night, or was it just me? In any case, I haven’t used an agenda in years, but according to my research, it’s a great way to not only keep track of the due dates for assignments over weeks and months, but it can help you break down the work you need to do across days and set manageable goals. If you don’t have a physical agenda, Notion  is an online agenda you can use for free.

a notebook that has "To-Do" written across its page

2. Create your own deadlines

If you are tired of the stress that comes from leaving your work until the last possible minute (I know I am…) a helpful trick is to create for yourself your own deadlines that are before the true deadline. That way, you give yourself a buffer of time in case things don’t go as planned, or you at least save yourself from stress-typing your midterm so fast your hands shake. This only works, however, if you commit to treating these deadlines as real; if you do manage to do this, your future self will most definitely thank you.

3. Keep your work space organized

I don’t know about you, but since I now only work from home, I just throw notebooks and papers everywhere since I don’t actually have to bring them anywhere. The problem with this is not only that my room is a mess—and I find it hard to work in a messy room—but I end up losing half my notes, which is highly unproductive and a huge waste of time. If you also have this problem, here are some tips on how to keep your space organized:

  • Keep loose papers in file folders, or an accordion folder, separated by course
  • If you take hand written notes, use a separate notebook for each course
  • De-clutter your desk/ workspace every couple of days

4. Remind, remind, remind

I have a terrible habit of assuming that I’ll remember things, even though all available evidence points to the fact that I will not. So from now on, I’ve decided that I am going to set reminders for everything. That way, if I do remember on my own I can feel really great about myself, and if I don’t, I’ll feel good knowing I have this safety net. While you can set reminders on your computer calendar, I am also a big fan of the old-fashioned sticky note method. I find this works best if you write in all-caps and put them in places you cannot possible ignore, such as in the middle of your laptop screen before you go to bed. That way once you wake up in the morning, you’ll have no choice but to remember what you swore you were going to anyways.

an open laptop that has two sticky notes attached to the screen. One reads "Hand in paper tomorrow" the other reads, "I'm serious!"

5. Check out U of T’s academic success centre

The Academic Success Centre is a great resource to help you achieve your academic and organizational goals. The centre can help you with your approaches to learning, studying, note-taking and much more! You can even book an appointment with their learning team and peer mentors to receive individual support! I highly suggest you check them out asap.

5. Complete easy tasks RIGHT AWAY

I put this one last because it’s weirdly the most difficult but also the most effective. If you have a task that you need to do that takes 5 minutes or less (such as emailing a Prof, signing up for an office hours appointment etc.) just do it right away. That way you don’t have the task hanging around in the back of your mind, and you don’t run the risk of forgetting it because it’s so small. Honestly, I don’t know if I’m going to be able to do this one because I am a master-procrastinator, but I am going to try my very best… New Year new me! As the saying goes.

If you’ve found yourself struggling with organization in the past, I hope my post has inspired you to make time for it during your winter semester. If you’re already super organized, I hope it’s made you feel proud about your skills… Have you tried any of my tips before?  Were they life changing? Are there any methods I’ve missed? Let me know in the comments below!

1 Comment

  • Great tips! My To Do list is my go to daily. I update it weekly as I complete tasks. It’s an excel spreadsheet, but I used to cover my computer screen with post it notes as reminders! I also use an app called Anydo, it’s convenient when I’m out and think of something to add to my list.
    Thanks Georgia!

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