This month's blog article was featured in the February 2024 issue of our digital newsletter, Aspire Wire. To receive future Aspire Wire emails, subscribe here.

By Kellsey Donovan, MS, CAGS
Associate Manager, Teen and Adult Services

It’s the New Year and college students are back in school after the winter break. The start of a new semester is a great time to focus on getting organized. There are many different aspects to consider if the goal is to become more organized in college, but time management is one of the most important things to address. Once students receive their syllabi from their classes, they should write down all essential due dates and deadlines into a central calendar. A well-organized student might also create internal deadlines for themselves, such as reminders to study in advance, or reminders to get started on larger assignments. After making sure all academic assignments have been noted in a calendar, students should add any extra-curricular activities, such as clubs, work, or personal commitments. Students may want to consider visual aids that work best for them; this might mean a calendar app on their phone or a wall calendar. They should also think about additional visual supports such as color-coding to help maintain a higher level of organizational structure. The last step in this process is for students to regularly check their calendar so that they stay informed about upcoming responsibilities. Regularly checking their calendar will help students to keep track of their priorities and be prepared for upcoming responsibilities. 

Another way to get more organized is to develop a regular daily routine. Because their schedule may change based on their classes, students should review their weekly schedule and begin to think about their daily activities. This may include aspects of their sleep schedule, like when to wake up and go to sleep, or their meal schedule, including times for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. After reflecting on this, students should also think about how to manage their overall energy level or sensory sensitivities throughout the day. Their daily routine and schedule should allow for some flexibility to accommodate sensory needs and potential fluctuations in energy levels. Building in times to take breaks can be a crucial way to recharge and manage stress.

There are several other strategies to implement if a student has a goal of getting organized in an effort to improve their study and work habits. The first step would be to make note of the professor’s office hours and/or potential study groups associated with each class. It is important to know what resources and supports are already available, or where to go if a student needs help. The next step would be to determine a location or space for working and studying. It may be helpful to try different locations for different classes or subjects. However, the most important piece to consider is to minimize distractions in the environment. Students may want to download apps that help with focus or utilize timers to reinforce these skills.

Navigating a new semester and starting new organizational habits will take some time and dedication to fully implement. It is important for students to reflect on their executive functioning strengths and weaknesses as a part of this plan. Students should also consider seeking out supportive communities on campus to explore accommodations or connect with similar peers.