How I Stayed Organized in College

how i stayed organized in college

I miss writing college posts so even though I’m now in grad school (you can read about how that happened) I’m going to talk about some of my tried and true ways I stayed organized in college! I still use some of these tips now in grad school as well. There’s nothing more important to me than staying organized. I’m not perfect by any means, and I tend to keep my school life much more organized than my personal life (ahem… my bedroom… my mom will tell you) but I promise implementing even two of these tips will make you feel that much more in control of your life in undergrad!

Make your planner your BFF.

mia ellsworth co planner

If you’ve been around here for a while, this is not news to you. I love my planners. And I’m not afraid to switch it up when needed. Last year, I used a Day Designer religiously. I loved it. I still love it. But I knew it wouldn’t be practical for me to carry around a bulky (albeit amazing) planner around with me on the daily at grad school. So I switched it up. The most important thing is knowing what works best for you and running with it. Seriously, I write my planner posts because there is really not one perfect magical planner that will work for everyone. I love sharing different types because not everyone is going to be into the same thing! Weekly vs. daily vs. monthly layouts, checklists, schedules, there are so many variables between planners nowadays that there’s probably something out there that will fit your needs.

ace your finals

I have used many methods to keep myself on track: post-it notes, color coding (pens and/or highlighters), to-do lists, schedules. Again, find something that works for you and stick to it! But part of making sure you stick to it is not being afraid to switch it up when it’s not working for you anymore. Too often people get set in their ways and when something isn’t working out they’ll try so hard to get it to fit and when it doesn’t, they’ll just jump ship. This has happened to me too! Just be flexible with yourself, experiment, and write everything down!

Make roommate schedules.

I had two roommates during my junior and senior year. I love them and miss them (hey Kelly and Jess). At the start of every semester I asked them for their schedules. I made up an Excel sheet and blocked out their schedules, printed them, and hung them on the wall in our entryway. This allowed me to be able to visualize when everyone would be home and when we all started classes in the mornings. I loved this because if I came home and was wondering where everyone was, I could just check the schedule and see what class they had and when they were there until. I also recommend doing this for emergencies. I never needed it for that, thank goodness, but if we somehow needed to locate one another, we would know where one another was during the week and when we’d be there.

Have a command center.

Hanging above the schedules was a bulletin board/white board that I had since freshman year. It was awesome. On the white board part we listed the days of the week Monday-Sunday. If any of us had an event that wasn’t on our printed schedules, we would write it on the white board in our own separate marker color. We’d also use it to let each other know if/when we were going home for the weekend or when we wanted to have people over. It was so nice and kept us all on the same page.

Organize notebooks with washi tape.

I wrote a post on this already, but I kept track of my notebooks by using different colored/patterned washi on each of them. I would place the washi, write the subject name with Sharpie and then put clear Scotch tape over it to keep the washi from peeling and the Sharpie from smearing. I loved doing this at the start of every semester and it kept me from taking the wrong notebook to class on accident! Also looked super cute if I do say so myself.

Color code your notes.

notes and planner

I’m not a crazy person when it comes to this but I do like having some color in my notes! In undergrad I used colorful pens to write the headers on my notes and in grad school I now use these amazing highlighter/markers. I’ll link them here because they are just that cool (I also use them in my planner! I have all three packs). I try to use just one specific color for each class. For example, I designated my Language Disorders class to be pink. So all my notes have pink highlighter throughout them. Make sense?

Write everything down.

Planning to do laundry this week? Write it down. Need to go grocery shopping? Write it down. Make your planner your hub for all things productive. And don’t forget to cross things off and reward yourself when you’re having a good, productive day. It’s hard work y’all. I know it.

Have a catch-all notebook.

Speaking of writing things down, designate one spot for you to take out-of-class notes. Are you on e-board for a club? Did you take some notes during a guest lecture? Put all of those things in one spot. I started doing this during my junior year for all the clubs I was in and let me tell ya. It was a game changer. I knew where all my notes were for every club and I just kept that journal with me to reference whenever I needed it. This is the journal I’m using now (affiliate link) but I used a May Designs notebook the past two years! Both have worked perfectly although I will say the Moleskine book is a bit more professional. I don’t feel weird bringing it into therapy sessions.

What methods do you use to keep yourself organized? Have you tried any of these or done something similar?

  • I was religious about using a planner in college. I’ve found that now with work just a regular notebook works well for me, but it’s still all about finding what works for you and using it! I would go nuts if I didn’t write everything down!

  • Miss ALK

    How SMART to do roommate schedules! Gosh I wish I had done that in college… one semester I lived with an athlete and her schedule was all over the place.

    xoxo A

  • Nicole DaRosa

    I can’t survive without post-it notes! I forget everything so they have definitely saved me on plenty of occasions lol I love the idea of roommate schedules!

  • Such great tips!!!!! its so smart to have a schedule

  • I can’t do anything without a planner! I stopped using mine for `~4 days and my life went to shambles. I love your idea about a command center! Need to try that.

    Lauren //

  • Uhm but like can I get that adorable quote with the pretty green leaves on a canvas for my office?!? I know it’s all about getting organized by I like need that in my life visible every day haha

  • mckenna bleu

    That is the cutest planner. I have a small paper one from target. I just can’t use the one in my phone. I just can’t. Gotta have paper!

  • Writing down EVERYTHING in a physical planner is a must!

  • Angeline Holub

    I don’t know how people get by without a planner!

  • These are such good ideas. I would’ve never thought to try the roommate ones haha.

  • Yes to all of this! So many people laughed at me for color coordinating my notes and carrying a planner, but both helped me stay SUPER organized.

  • Isabella

    Great ideas! As a student I’m currently finding it hard to manage my work and stay organised. Will definitely use your tips.

  • I need to write everything down or I will forget it! I love being organized but sometimes I’m so good at procrastinating that I end up not following my schedule.

  • I ALWAYS write everything down because I know I will definitely forget it if I dont! :)

  • Sydney Power

    Wow! I’m really glad that you shared this! I think I need to write down that everything important, I’m always forgetful!

  • Riley Dixon

    My planner is my BFF! My best friends joke that I have to write everything down 12 times in like 4 different places to stay organized. Loved this post xo
    Riley |

  • Alyson Cruse

    My planner has been my best friend all throughout high school. Since I’m starting college next school year, which is definitely a much different lifestyle than high school, I’ve been trying to find new ways to stay organized and I love all your ideas! I shared this in my recent weekly update post as well!

    XO Alyson | My Life as Alyson

  • My planner was and is my everything. It helped me stay so organized in college. Also, writing everything down helps me keep my brain on straight. My most used app on my phone is Evernote. I don’t know what I did without it.

  • These organisation tips are so great!