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  • Writer's pictureAllison Styffe

Make organization your Valentine this year

As Valentine’s Day approaches and I ponder the things I LOVE, I must say that ORGANIZING is near the top of my list. Don’t worry — my family, dogs, faith, friends are higher on the list, but organizing can bring all sorts of good feelings.

Based upon years of working with high school students, two major areas of organization stand out as essential to being successful academically (and in life): Your calendar and your inbox. Having an effective system for both of these items will help you manage your time and reduce stress. This post will focus on calendars and other scheduling tools.

There are so many options: Google calendar, phone app calendar, wall calendar, desk calendar, notebook planner, printed calendar from your computer. Find the one (or more) that works for you! No calendar is better than another, you just need to figure out which calendar system works best for you.

Here’s what works for me:

1. Wall calendar of the whole year. Yep, January thru December is staring at me every time I sit at my desk. I write the weeks of the term (1,2,3,4,5,etc) on each Monday of each term and I cross out each day as it passes. I find it very helpful to be able to glance up, see what day it is and the weeks/months to come. I always write vacations and big things I am looking forward to on my wall calendar.

2. My Google calendar. Truly, I can’t live without it. This is where I type all my appointments, due dates, reminders, to-dos, and anything I don’t want to forget. I can set myself an alarm to remind myself of a calendar item and I can sync it with my phone so my calendar literally goes everywhere with me. Here’s a 20 minute video that will teach you how to use your google calendar.

As a student, you can put the following in your calendar:

  • At the beginning of each term, read (and re-read) your syllabi for each class and write down (or type) EVERY date given in your syllabus for the WHOLE term in your calendar. This includes assignment due dates, quiz/test dates, study sessions, instructor open office hours, ect. This will take some time and effort week 1 of term, but it will be worth it. If dates change as the term proceeds, you can always change it on your calendar.

  • Class meeting times (in-person, remote)

  • Independent & group study times

  • Self-Care (exercise, get outside, chat with a friend, etc)

  • Dates with family/friends

  • Work schedule

  • Personal appointments

There are many online calendars and mobile apps, but Google calendar comes for free with a Google account and I like free, so it works for me. Again, find the one that works for you!

3. Week at a glance schedule. I highly recommend this type of calendar/schedule for all students to help manage time and make sure you have space in your life for all the things that are important to you.

Follow this link: Copy of Study Schedule - Map Your Time to build a weekly schedule like this: (For full instructions on how to create a weekly schedule see: how to build weekly schedule )

4. Don't stop with calendars! There’s a variety of tools that can help you stay organized. Check these out and pick and choose what works for you!

  • How Are My Classes Meeting? (Google Doc) A graphic organizer to keep track of the different platforms and times classes are meeting online.

  • Weekly To-Do List (fillable pdf - from OSU) Prioritize weekly tasks with this handy graphic organizer.

  • Term At-A-Glance (fillable pdf from OSU) All examinations and due dates of major assignments, projects, and papers can be entered on the calendar to assist you in planning your course of study each week throughout the term.

  • Winter Term 2022 Planner (fillable pdf) Use this planner to map out your term. Enter the due dates for homework, discussion posts, and meetings, and plan longer assignments. You can download the Chrome extension Kami if you would like to edit the pdf with colored text.

The key to keeping yourself organized is to find a system that works for you and then get in the habit of using it. Like all good habits, discovering the right calendar system for you might take time and practice.

And come to think of it, my LOVE for chocolate might just beat out my LOVE for organizing, especially if we’re talking peanut M&M’s.

Happy Organizing!

This blog post was written by Richelle Colenso, BEC Advisor.
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