Get Organized to Save Time and Accomplish More

Reachi your goals with good organization. Red boat had no destination.Without goals and plans to reach them, you are like a ship that has set sail with no destination.     — Fitzhugh Dodson

It seems so obvious that if you are getting on a boat or airplane or in a car that you first need to choose a destination. The journey of life is much more important. Why is it that so many people can’t decide where they want to go?

After choosing your destination, you should make plans for the trip. One way we make plans for our years in college is to get organized. must choose classes that will get us where we want to go and organize our  time, space and materials.

A college senior wrote this about getting organized.

A daily planner keeps you honest… I haven’t exactly been the poster child for planning, especially as a freshman and sophomore, but it’s become my” main thing.”

College assignments are mostly reading so there’s no homework to hand in. The “I don’t have any homework tonight” feeling can snowball instantly into hundreds of unread pages or a project you’re just starting the night before it’s due.

My planner keeps me in touch with reality.”
— Been There, Should’ve Done That, Senior, Government, Franklin and Marshall College.

Getting off to a great start

If you haven’t registered for classes yet …

1. Study the catalogue, all of it.

  • Find out what is required for all students
  • Find out what is required for the major you are most interested.
  • List other classes that look really interesting
  • Make a very tentative 4 year plan of what classes you might want to take.

Why plan this far ahead?

Living your life without a plan is like watching television with someone else holding the remote control .   — Peter Turla

For most majors, there is a series of prerequisites. If you want to take a geology seminar your senior year, you might need to take paleontology and crystallography  the year before, and basic earth science  classes  before that. If there is any chance that you will major in one of the sciences, start early.

One of those classes might be full when you need it, or it might be cancelled for some reason. This means you should take required classes early.

You need Calculus before Basic Physics. Are you prepared to take Calculus? If you didn’t take Calculus in high school, you might want to start with Pre-calculus now. Then Calculus, Then Basic  Physics, then the more advanced Physics classes. Plan ahead.

With this preliminary schedule in hand, you’ll be better prepared to talk to your advisor. Have a list of questions ready. Your advisor will check to see if your schedule makes sense or if you have left out some important requirements.

When you register for your classes:

1. If you are attending a large college or university, study a campus map. You probably don’t want to take one class in the building in the far southwestern corner of the campus, and the next one in the far northeast — and then back next to your first class. I did that and had to get a bike to get to my classes on time. If you need to schedule those well-separated classes, try to leave an hour or two between them. (Not free time but study time, of course.)

2. What time of the day is best for you? If you are a morning person, go ahead and sign up for early classes. But keep in mind that if you are up late at a party or even doing homework the night before, early mornings will be difficult. Most students, even morning people, don’t start before 9 AM. If you love sleeping late (like a lot of students,) you might sign up for afternoon classes when possible. But since I’m not as alert in the afternoon, I took mainly late morning classes. When are you at your best?

3. How much can you handle?  If you aren’t a great reader, don’t start your freshman year with all classes that require a lot of reading. One strategy students sometimes use is to sign up for one class more than you really want to take. After the first week of two – definitely by the deadline for dropping classes — you can drop the one class you like least or that seems most difficult. Before trying that, make sure you won’t be charged for taking that extra class. Then it’s not such a good idea.

When I was a freshman, I thought I was a super-student. I thought I could learn anything. I signed up for Russian my first semester. By the end of the first week, I knew I was lost. I have trouble learning languages and Russian wasn’t an easy language. I dropped it with a huge sigh of relief. By the second semester I could have faced a greater challenge – but not Russian.  Because I enjoyed the challenge, I usually took at least one more class than average and often sat in on another one or two classes. My philosophy was  “So many interesting classes and so little time.”

You need to register to “Audit” a class. It goes on you record but without a grade. Sometimes they charge for this. I use the term, “sitting in” to mean that I went straight to a professor and asked permission to sit in on a class. They almost always say yes. They like having a student who really wants to be there. And yes, I even studied for the classes I sat in on. I did most of the reading, took every test including the finals, but did not write term papers. In one geology class, I wasn’t able to attend the labs. That was the reason I couldn’t actually register. I had a biology lab at the same time. Then, even though I hadn’t gotten credit for the geology class, I was permitted to register for Paleontology – a class whose prerequisites included the class I just sat in on.

You have planned your classes; Now plan your Study Time

Students tend to hear the work “organize’ and say, “Yeah, I know all about it. They call it Time Management. That means we’re supposed to plan what we’re supposed to study every minute of the day.”

Actually, Time Management does NOT mean studying every minute of the day. It means organizing your time so that all your studying gets done, AND you will have set aside time for friends and family, for participation in organizations, sports or other activities, and you should even have time left to be alone or to use as you please.

Certainly Time Management is an important part of getting organized but we need to be organized in a several areas.

Organization doesn’t make your life more difficult; it always makes your life easier. And, with your life organized in all areas, you will be more relaxed, get more done, and enjoy life more.

Organization on this website is divided into four  categories, though you could probably list other areas and find a way to organize those. Most students would probably say the most important areas are  Time Management, and Budgeting your Money.. 

Organize your life around your dreams — and watch them come true.   — Author Unknown

Time Management                                   Organize Space 

Organize Materials                              Budget your Money

Leave a Reply