The List of Lists: Staying Organized During the School Year

With the start of college football season last week and the herd of parents flocking to Target and Office Depot, we know that fall has begun and that the back-to-school season will soon be in full swing. We would rather continue to binge watch How I Met Your Mother, but getting organized before the start of the school year is imperative for your future success.

Everyone has a different way of keeping track of things, but I have found that making lists is the best way to keep me organized. Nothing beats the satisfaction of cross something off of my list and keeping track my productivity and success. Staying organized is no easy task, so I’ve created a list of the lists that you should keep in order to start the new school year strong.

*Note: I suggest putting your lists in a planner (I used a Passion Planner this year, and it was perfect!), but if you decide to make lists on spare pieces of paper, make sure that you remember where you put them!

1) Goals for the Year

A new year means a new and improved you! Take advantage of this time of transition to challenge yourself and to hold yourself accountable in all aspects of your life. Think about what you want to accomplish in terms of academics and your career, your health and physical fitness, and your personal well being.

During your time at college, many external motivators can change or disappear, so personal growth and the desire to better yourself must come from you alone. Create a physical list of your goals and keep it somewhere that you can see to help remind you of your long-term vision.

Here’s an example list of a few of my goals:

  • Get A’s In My Major Classes (go to office hours 2x a week, don’t look at my phone during lecture)

  • Remember The Little Things (drink more water during the day, start your day from a place of gratitude)

  • Get Healthier (run 3x a week, opt for a salad at dinner)

  • Strike a Balance (take a 5 minute phone break for every hour of homework done, watch an episode or two of a TV show after a long night of studying)

2) Daily, Weekly, and Monthly To Do’s

Lists are about breaking things down, so I create lists of tasks that I want to accomplish for the day, the week, and the upcoming month. Keeping track of deadlines is of the utmost importance, so creating a visual record of jobs that categorizes them by due date has proved to be very helpful. Highlights tasks that must be done ASAP, and copy/cross reference this information with your planner if you choose to get one.

Especially for the weekly and monthly lists, break things down further and separate tasks into categories such as assignments for different classes, on-campus errands, off-campus errands, and things that you have to do for your family.

A few major dates that I write down are:

  • Tests & Projects (midterms, research papers, finals)

  • Financial Aid Due Dates (when FAFSA is due, when financial aid awards are disbursed)

  • Information Sessions (study abroad, summer internships, networking nights)

3) Friends That You Miss

Making lists can be stressful because you can see all of your goals and tasks that need to be done, but this list can help you destress! I tend to keep a list of people whom I miss and to whom I want to reach out.

Usually, I run into people at dining halls or on the way to class, but it’s hard to spend time with everyone because of my crazy schedule. Keeping tabs on the people whom I want to see and setting aside time during the week to touch base with these people help me relax. College can be exhausting, and spending time with people who make you happy will rejuvenate you and in turn make you more productive!

When I want to catch up with someone, we usually:

  • Get a meal together

  • Have a study date in the library

  • Have a Girl’s Night Out

  • Watch movies at my apartment

As a college student, you will always have something more to do, so if you can accomplish 80% of the things that you set out to achieve each day, you should be content. Be okay with not getting to everything, but make sure that you’re prioritizing the tasks that are time sensitive and have due dates. If making lists isn’t for you, that’s okay because this may not work for everyone, but if you remember to stay organized, you’re going to have a successful year.