Learning how to stay organized in graduate school, and staying organized, is critical for success. You will accumulate a large volume of documents from your courses that you must manage and keep handy, and losing just one could, during the application process, jeopardize your chances of getting into your dream program, and during the school year, cost you a necessary grade. Proper graduate student organization involves managing time and materials, as well as utilizing strategies and handling multiple tasks.
Steps to Stay Organized in Graduate School
To keep from drowning under a sea of paperwork, you will need to set up an organization strategy to which you can stay committed. One of the most important organization tips for school is to set realistic goals. Set short- and long-term goals for each semester and write them down. When you begin to feel unorganized, it will help you to revisit your list of goals and get back on track.
Step #1: Stay Motivated
Motivation is one of the keys to organization in graduate school. Staying organized will help you become a better student and will instill lifelong skills you will use in your career and your life. Chances are that you have other responsibilities in life besides your graduate education, so keeping your school materials together and in order becomes especially critical.
Step #2: Create a Schedule
One of the first steps of graduate student organization is to create a schedule and stick to it. You must learn to manage your time efficiently and schedule time for your family, friends, work and leisure. Remember that it is okay to say "no" if you can't fit something into your schedule. You should try and be flexible, but it is important to maintain a routine. Let your friends know that you are applying to graduate school, and that you may be a tad scarce for the next few days, weeks or months.
Step #3: Create a To-Do List
Sometimes, to-do lists can be intimiating. But creating a sequential list of to-dos is one way to keep track of the many responsibilities and assignments you'll have in order to achieve efficient performance and to keep up with your coursework. This will encourage you to be more productive and contented. Time management simply pertains to your responsibilities and the choices you have made in using your time.
Step #4: Use a Planner
Using a planner or date book is an indispensable part of being organized in graduate school. Sync the calendar on your phone with the one on your computer, laptop, or tablet so that all of your responsibilities are accessible no matter where you are.
If you're more of a paper person, you may decide to keep a master calendar at home, but it is important that you have a planner or date book you can carry with you wherever you go. You should have daily, weekly and monthly entries, as well as deadlines and due dates.
Step #5: Establish a Study Area
Establishing an organized study area is also crucial for school organization. Your study area should be equipped with all the office supplies you need, and it should be devoid of clutter. You will need files and folders for notes, professional documents, handouts and graded exams. Create a folder for each course in your file cabinet as well as on your computer. Organizing your computer files is just as important as putting your papers in order.
You may decide that labeling your desk drawers is helpful, and color-coding is a method that many students use on a daily basis. Whatever works for you. The area you choose as your study area should be quiet and private. If you have children, be sure to child-proof the area so you can maintain your organization.
Put things back where they belong when you are done with them - every time. Otherwise, you will waste too much time cleaning up instead of studying. If your paperwork gets out of hand, don't panic. Take one pile at a time and file the papers either in folders or in the trash. Tearing out and filing lecture notes you have already used is another important organization tip for school, as it helps keep your course notebooks neat.
In these days of environmental awareness, there's no need to print everything out. Instead, save the information on your computer, but keep it organized the same way you would with paper files. Keep folders for separate classes and assignments and lable documents and files clearly so you won't waste time searching for them later.
Step #6: Ask for Help
Don't be afraid to ask other students for help. More than likely, some of your classmates feel the same demands and pressures that you do. Perhaps you could babysit another student's children for several hours one evening, in exchange for that student doing the same for you a different day. This way you can both get some homework done while knowing your children are well-supervised.
Staying Organized for Graduate School Success
Once you have learned how to stay organized in graduate school, your coursework should be much easier to manage. Knowing where important files are, maintaining a schedule, and establishing an ideal work space will reduce your stress so you can focus on your assignments. Attending graduate school is a big commitment, but becoming organized is a commitment you make to yourself. Use this as a way to avoid the common mistakes students make in online classes and find an accredited school to apply to.