College Basics: Organization

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College is a busy and messy time. From the packets and syllabi professors pass out in class to the papers and revisions you write every few weeks or so, there is a lot of material to organize and store away—not to mention your supplies! Over the years, many of them full of dismay and messiness, I’ve found a few things that work to keep all of my school stuff together and accessible. Here’s what I’ve found:

Desk top organizers — Most likely your dorm has a desk or you’ve set aside some space in your apartment for a work table. First, notice the desk lamp. I love this thing. Usually a desk lamp just gets in the way, is bulky, and obnoxious unless you happen to be using it. This is perfect for writing implements, Post-its, and all those other little supplies you want to keep around because of its storage compartments (plus it has a USB port in the back!). If you like to use an additional monitor like the 22” Dell screen that I have, then you can save space with this cool little monitor stand / organizer. Mostly, I like that the monitor is placed at eye level. It helps me stay in a comfortable sitting position and keep my posture during long work hours. The plus with this one in particular is that you can store computer paper and assorted supplies in the unit.

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My slightly messy desk.

File Folder Crate — As the papers start to pile up you might think about picking up a file folder crate. It’s an easy way to keep track of what papers, assignments, and syllabi you’ve gotten from which class. After a few semesters of heavy work, though, you’ll need somewhere else to store your work—for me the best option (and the cheapest) has been to use banker boxes. Buy a pack of folders and these boxes and everything you compile over the course of your undergrad, grad, and additional courses will have a cheap and easy storage.

Dry Erase Board — This is for students who like to make short notes and reminders for themselves on a regular basis. Soon I’ll have a post about how I use my dry erase board for you to check out.

Calendar — I’m going to gloss over this one a bit because I’ve never been great at using a calendar, although I do recognize it as sound advice. For me, I use those cramped little squares in the first few weeks of class and tend to forget about them once things get going. It’s tough to get the hang of a new schedule every semester, so having a reference for when and where they will be is super helpful. I typically just use the one on my phone, so my only suggestion here is to keep track of your schedule somehow, and to be particularly conscious of it at the beginning of the semester or when big due dates are upcoming.

External Hard Drive — For your digital documents the best thing you can do is pick up an external hard drive. I’ve used my Toshiba hard drive for years now and have never regretted it. Yes, yes, your computer will save everything you need and everything you don’t. And yes, a flash drive can be a decent back up. My reasons for this product are that it can back up your entire computer, including all of your files, music, photos, and everything else and it can last a lot longer than a flash drive if only because it is not meant to be carried around with you. My hard drive has everything from my undergraduate classes, from my semester and year abroad, graduate school, and everything else I picked up along the way—and there is still space for a lot more.

I hope that these organization tools will be helpful for you. During my years of school they kept my work in order, accessible, and neat. If it weren’t for these products I would have lost my mind in the mess and disorder. A clean space = clean work. Study hard!

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