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Organize Your Life Online Workshop

Need help managing the chaos?

Watch this short video to learn tips for keeping yourself organized and be sure to check out the essential apps list and required readings below.


Tip #1

Use a calendar & to-do lists

Calendaring and writing to-do lists is essential to success and productivity as a college student. Whether you use a paper calendar or an electronic one, you should start your semester by setting it up. Block out times for classes, study time, work and other obligations. Make sure that you plan time for your asynchronous online classwork.

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Tip #2

Manage your time, rather than multitask

You might not realize it, but studies show that multitasking is not an effective way to do anything. We all know you shouldn't text & drive; taking your eyes off the road and looking at your phone is just plain dangerous and causes accidents. While the stakes are decidedly lower when you are studying, doing research, or in class listening to a lecture, multitasking is no less detrimental. If we are checking texts, social media, or email, we are taking our minds of the task at hand. That's why it's recommended that you manage your time, rather than multitask. Plan to focus on one thing at a time, for set amounts of time (10 or 20 min) rather than jumping from one task to another. It will make you more productive in the long run.

Close extra browser tabs. Silence your phone. Use screentime limits on your phone & tablet.

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Tip #3

Be realistic with your goals

When it comes to studying and writing, it's best to be realistic with yourself about how much you can achieve in a given amount of time. Now that you are going to stop multitasking, you will find that your time is more efficient, but you still should make sure to allow the right amount of time for certain tasks. How quickly can you read a chapter out of a text books? 45 minutes, or so? If that's the case, you won't be able to read and understand 8 chapters in a night. So don't even plan on it! How long does it take to write a page of a research paper? Be sure to set yourself enough time to get quality work done. When you are realistic with your goals, you'll feel productive and accomplished as you get things done, rather than overwhelmed and bogged down with too much to do and not enough time to do it.

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Tip #4

Establish a routine

Routines are key to feeling organized. When you structure your day well and do a few things the same way at the same time each day, you'll find yourself more at ease and productive. Let's say this semester, you have a class at 9 am on MWF, and nothing until noon on T/TH. As tempting as it is to sleep in those late mornings, it's actually in your best interest to get up at the same time, eat at the same time, generally have a similar routine each day. Add in a morning walk or tidying up your space and you'll feel ready to accomplish your (realistic) goals.

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Tip #5

Enjoy your workspace

Working in a space that is neat and tidy can help your productivity overall. A recent Harvard study looked at 100 undergraduate students and their work persistence when working in a tidy, organized desk versus a scattered, chaotic space. The results were clear: students in the neat and tidy space were able to concentrate on the given task for 1.5 times as long! While other studies have shown a cluttered space leads to more creativity, if you are trying to accomplish goals that need more persistence, your best bet is to tidy up. Get into a routine of organizing and cleaning your workspace regularly to keep it from becoming an overwhelming task.

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Tip #6

Plan time for yourself

Be sure that while you're planning your day or study session, you plan time for yourself. Whether you plan to take a walk, chat with a friend, or scroll through social media, studies show that breaks are important for keeping your brain sharp. Without regular breaks, research shows that people have difficulty focusing on the task at hand whereas people who took regular breaks were able to focus much longer. Even a brief diversion can dramatically improve your productivity. The key, however, is to keep your breaks short, rather than allow yourself to procrastinate.

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Essential Apps

Use these apps to get organized and study more efficiently. 

Canvas Student AppCanvas App

  • View Syllabus
  • See Announcements
  • Check grades

Google Drive Google Drive

  • Cloud storage space
  • Create documents, spreadsheets, slideshows
  • Work collaboratively 

Quizlet Quizlet

  • Create flashcards and quizzes
  • Find shared study materials 

OneNote OneNote

  • Microsoft Online app
  • Excellent for keeping organized notes

Stay Focused StayFocused

  • Browser extension available for Chrome, Firefox, Safari and more
  • Limit time or block time-wasting websites

Momentum Momentum

  • Browser extension 
  • Replaces your "New Tab" with a clean personal dashboard
  • Set a daily focus, keep to-dos, see inspirational quotes

All apps are free & available across platforms. 

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