Organization – Tools of the Trade

by KC Wade

In her post, “Time Management,” Nina Bahadur offers tips on how to prioritize your assignments and make study schedules, which will set you on the path to studying more efficiently.

Maintaining momentum is equally important if you truly want to realize the benefits of time management. To get organized and stay organized, you should have the appropriate study materials and environment. The following four items are great basic tools for encouraging organization:

Expanding File Folder

Expanding file folders help to organize classwork. Each tab stands for a class, and class handouts go straight in the designated pocket. No need for three-hole punching, and you have the assurance that English papers will always be found under the English tab! File folders can also store handouts from extracurriculars like sports and clubs.

To prevent clutter, empty out your file folders at the end of each grading period. Keep notes you need for future midterms and exams and recycle the rest.

Some classes require you to keep separate binders, but I would stick with a central file folder as much as possible. Keeping track of one, large folder is easier than juggling 4-6 small binders, and it’s less weight to carry back and forth from school.

[Continue reading to learn about other organization tools]

Colored Pens, Tabs, and Post-it Notes

Color is a powerful tool for organization. Psychologists have shown that people have a better memory for color images, and you can apply this to your studies.

Start by color-coding the tabs in your file folder or the colors of your binders: green for Biology, blue for Algebra II, red for Spanish, etc. For best results, apply this same color scheme as extensively as possible. Choose a green book cover for your Biology book, write biology assignments in your planner with green pen, or use a green highlighter when reviewing biology PowerPoint slides. Color-coding is a simple mind trick that can help you quickly feel more in control of your work.

Designated Workspace

Try as I might, I can never do schoolwork in my bedroom. If I’m serious about writing a paper, I go to a designated study area. Are there places in your house or community where it’s easy to study? Can you think of other places where you never get anything done?

Asking these questions will help you create a designated workspace—one or several places you always go to do homework. Identify workspaces as places for studying only. If your desk is your workspace, move onto your bed if you’re tempted to surf Facebook. Designating workspaces encourages your brain to turn to “study mode” when you go there and discourages procrastination.

Central Planner or Calendar

Write down your homework assignments, project deadlines, or study schedules in a central planner. In high school, I used notebook planners, but now I use the calendar on my laptop computer. Paper or digital, you should write down all of your assignments in one place so you can assess your entire workload. The act of writing (or typing) itself also reinforces memory—for example, noting “do problems #30-55 in textbook” is a physical action connected your commitment to do your math homework. Remember to color-code your planner/calendar, too!

Writing down other commitments like soccer practices or movies with friends in your planner is also a good idea. Planning with your whole schedule in mind, extracurriculars included, will help you create more realistic study schedules for yourself and leave time for fun.

About the author: KC Wade is a graduate of Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public Policy (Class of 2011) and was a high jumper for the varsity track & field team. She has interned at the U.S. Department of State and studied abroad in India during her time at Princeton, and completed a 118-page senior thesis on wind and solar power in India. KC was a campus Peer Advisor and led camping trips for freshmen alongside her tutoring work with Princeton Tutoring.

One thought on “Organization – Tools of the Trade

  1. Tyron Horn

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