As a student, organization is vital to your success. Having a system in place in your first year will make your student life much easier, as you will have everything you need to be an organized rockstar! In my first year, I struggled with finding a system for myself, but once I did, I found my mental health improved and my efficiency and grades increased. The system I created for myself is one that I continue to use now in my third year. It’s also one that I’m able to use to answer the job interview question “how do you stay organized?”, which I’ve been asked at least twice now. Of course I’m going to tell you what worked for me as a student, but you should know that when adopting a system, it is not one size fits all. Use what works best for you and your life!

My number one method of organization is my assignments sheet. This is an excel sheet that holds all the information I need about what I have to do this semester. In my sheet, I input the assignment, its due date, the course it’s for, the weight of the assignment (how much of my grade it’s going to be worth), and where I need to submit it, as it could be Moodle, email, or in person. I’m sure there’s more details one could include about the assignment, or maybe you would like to include just the bare bones and that’s okay too. In addition to my assignments, I also use this sheet to include weekly tasks such as refining notes and extracurricular projects – like when I need to complete an ambassador blog like this one! Furthermore, I have my assignment sheet colour coded because I love colour coding things. I also have it sorted by date, so the assignments that are due the soonest are at the top. All of this helps me to visualize what needs to get done and map out how I’m going to tackle everything. I use my assignments sheet in tandem with my Google Calendar, where I am able to manually import all my due dates, so I know exactly what to expect in a week. I’ll get a bit more into Google Calendar later though! Overall, I think my assignment sheet is the lifeline of my organization as a student since this it has everything I need to know all in one place. Below is a screenshot of my assignment sheet so you can see what it looks like.

Another system I use to stay organized is Google Calendar. This calendar is one of the best I’ve found. I have created a schedule for my whole semester that includes my class meetings, due dates, work schedules, appointments, and events. Google Calendar allows you to create different calendars that all appear in your main calendar which can be customized by name and colour. As a colour-coder, I was all over this. I have calendars for each of the categories I listed above, all matched with colours to create an aesthetically pleasing system. If there’s one thing I have learned about myself throughout creating my organization system, it is that I am more likely to use something if I find joy in how it looks. I schedule everything into my calendar so that I know exactly what I need to do and what’s coming up. It also helps me to maintain boundaries and not overbook myself, which is vital to avoid burnout. Another thing that really sold me about Google Calendar is that I’m able to link it to my iPhone so that I can view my calendar anywhere and everywhere. It’s something great to consider!

My final method of organization is keeping my files organized. You can do this digitally or through paper if that’s your preference. I personally prefer digital organization as I’m not a fan of paper. As such, on my laptop I utilize Google Drive. I use Google Drive because it’s transferable and in the cloud, so if something happens to my laptop, I won’t lose everything. On my drive, I have folders for school, work, and my personal life. Within my school folder I have it further divided into semesters and then into courses. In each of the course folders, I have my course outlines, my notes, and all of my assignments. This makes it super easy to find whatever I need when I need it. Generally, I transfer everything into my drive, just so it’s consistent for me. As mentioned earlier, you can be organized digitally or through using paper. If you’re using paper, I would recommend considering using a binder or folder system to ensure everything has a place. The main point here though: find a way to keep your files organized to save yourself a headache later on.

As you can tell, I’ve got quite the system. I find organization to be really important for my success as a student and to maintain my mental health, so I put it at the top of my priorities list. Whether you’re already organized or trying to find a way to be, try out any of these methods in your own system. Put your twists on them and adjust the methods to fit your life. We’re all different and there’s no correct way to be organized, there’s just effective ways for you. Use your time in first year (or before you even start) to develop your systems and solidify them for your program duration.

Future Student Ambassador, Abby – Bachelor of Arts, “Organized Chaos: How to Stay Organized in your First Year”, 9 Nov. 2022.

Other stories you may like

Back to all news

Search news stories