Seriously, How Do You Get Organized?

November 9, 2017  |   Found in Editorial

You just finished a midterm. You kind of forgot about that assignment due in two days. And your friends asked you to hang out tonight. Tired and exhausted, you sit deflated in TFDL and search up “How do I get organized?”. You start skimming through list articles, and everything is popping. Yes, I’ll start writing everything down. Yes, I’ll start making daily schedules. Yes, I’ll be able to balance my life by buying a $40 journal (AND it’ll look so good!).

In two weeks, your journal is lost in an abyss of scattered notes and you find yourself just as overwhelmed as before.

Okay, we’ve all been there. We find ourselves in love with a new organization technique, but it only lasts for however long we have the energy and time for it. Organization techniques aren’t one size fits all, and there’s no shame in doing things differently. But how do we know what will work best for us? No worries, we’ve got you covered – read on for steps on finding your ideal organization techniques!

1. You’re Your Best Friend

Understanding your work style and organization tendencies is the first step to finding your balance. Interview yourself and take notes. After all, who knows you better than you?

  • What does organization look like for me, right now?
  • Do I work better weeks before a deadline, or do I work better when I’m closer to a deadline?
  • What do I struggle with when it comes to completing tasks? Motivation? Discipline?
  • Where do I focus best? At home? On campus?
  • What are some organization-based goals I want to achieve? Do I want to start completing assignments two days before they’re due? Do I want to get to a point where I’m comfortable and confident in my ability to stay organized?
  • What are my current priorities? Do I need to re-evaluate them?

2. One Two Three, Testing, Testing

Organization isn’t a holy grail. Organization is vigorous, and you won’t find your ideal system or technique until you’ve tried a few, and even then, it likely won’t be perfect. Organization means constantly reworking your techniques and constantly evaluating what needs to change (because you change, too!). Below are a few techniques to get you started!

  • Doing tasks at specific times in the day
  • Weekly “purges” of nonessential items/undone tasks
  • Paper or digital planner
  • A new study location, like a library or coffee shop
  • Keeping your personal and work spaces clean (or messy!)
  • Using different organization techniques during the weekdays vs. weekends

Don’t be afraid to mix things up either when you’re testing out techniques. Often, people work better when they use several organization techniques simultaneously, such as organizing a daily schedule while trying out new study spaces. You’ll naturally gravitate towards the ones that work best for you, and eventually, you may find yourself adding your own unique twist!

3. Don’t Copy Someone Else’s Notes

Being organized doesn’t mean looking over at what someone else is doing and copying everything that they do. If they work best with a digital calendar and you work best writing to-do lists, then there’s no point peeking over their shoulder.

Organization means understanding what you feel most comfortable with, and excelling in the techniques that you’ve built. Of course, I’m not saying don’t take a quick peek and then go back to looking at your own notes. You can always find a new technique to test out!

4. Ignore the Haters

So what if you like working until 4am in the morning? What if your creativity doesn’t explode until the deadline creeps up? That’s fine! As long as you are keeping yourself healthy, accountable, and considerate of others (like group members), then keep on working with what you feel happy with. Don’t let expectations of what “looks” like organization deter you from what works for you.

5. Life Buddies

You’ve reached the final step! You’ve found some techniques that are tried and true to your work style. Techniques will change over time, but as I said before, they’re changing because you’re changing – and that’s a pretty good feeling.

It’s important to remember that you’ll still get stressed, overwhelmed, and feel like you’re just too busy. But know that with your practiced organization skills, you’ll be tackling your tasks head on!


Joanne is an English/Communications Studies student whose favourite drink is a Tim Hortons white hot chocolate with a chai tea bag. If she could have any job, she would be a street photographer who only takes photos of random dogs.