Organize Materials

Organizing study materials makes learning easier

If you are working on a project and run out of printer paper ….
If your last pen runs out of ink ….
If the paper is supposed to be stapled and you need to run down the hall trying to borrow a stapler…
You are wasting time and you feel frustrated.
Buying and organizing the study tools and materials you need is a good investment.

Tools you might need — You probably don’t need everything. Check and see what your roommate has.

1. Most important is your computer (desktop or Laptop) and accessories.A stack of six spiral notebooks, red yellow blue and black
You need a surge protector and an external hard drive to save your files in case the computer is stolen or it “dies.” A memory stick is important if you take files elsewhere to get them printed.

NOTE: If you cannot afford a laptop, don’t worry. There is sure to be a computer room on campus, maybe even in your dorm. You will just need to schedule time to get papers done.  The other alternative, is your roommate might be willing to share a computer for several hours a day. You might offer to do their laundry in return.

2. A three-hole punch if you want to store handouts in your binder.

3. A stapler and staple remover and plenty of staples the right size.

4. A pair of scissors

5. A desk organizer – purchased or home-made. An old can or jar or cup can hold pens and pencils just as well as a desk organizer. A divided tray (a silverware tray) that fits in a desk drawer can hold the scissors, stapler, paper clips, push pins, and much more.

6. A good desk lamp if one isn’t provided.

7. If you really want to study in your dorm – and the chair is uncomfortable,  a comfortable office chair may be worth the investment.  But think about how you would store it over the summer. If you live an hour or two away from college and either you drive back and forth or your parents come to pick you up, and if the car or truck is large enough to carry this chair along with all your other belongings, go for it.

Before spending that much money, check out other places you might study. Try the library. Try finding a quiet place in the Student Union. Try an empty classroom. Try the lounge in your dorm. It may be quiet during the day.  Wait a few weeks to see if your dorm is too noisy to study, if people come in to talk to you while you’re trying to study, if your roommate is watching TV. Then make a decision. I rarely studied in my dorm room. And if you are thinking of studying in bed – Don’t. You might be comfortable but you won’t get much studying done.

8. A place to store your files. You don’t need a big file cabinet . You have several alternatives.

A. Some people suggest that you use an accordion-style folder that opens up with 8-12 or more spaces for papers. One or several of these may be just what you need.  I find that this might be useable for one semester, but if you decide to save the materials from each class, then you’ll need another of these files for the next semester.

B. Another alternative is to have a binder for each semester. At the beginning of each new semester take the papers from the previous semester and store them in a binder. You could also store them that way to begin with.

C. A third alternative is to buy a milk crate designed to hold hanging file folders. Then buy a package of at least 25 hanging files of the right size. The ugly ones cost less, but I like the boxes with 4 or 5 different colors. Then I can separate files for different purposes.  Write the name of your file on the provided thin pieces of paper and insert these into the plastic label holders.These go into the holes in the files.  You will, of course need to find a place to store this crate.

D. You might prefer what I think are called portable file boxes. Find these at an office supply store. It is a plastic box with a latching lid and handle that holds at least 25 or 30 files. On some of these the lid opens to hold pens and other supplies. This would probably fit well under a bed. It would cost more but should last all through college.

9. You need a back pack or strong canvas bag to carry books, notebooks, and other supplies to classes. A back pack can be expensive so choose one that is comfortable and likely to last all through college. Check to be sure it is large enough to held several books and has smaller compartments to carry notebooks, pens, calculator and other supplies. Some students find it helpful to get a backpack with wheels so you can pull it except on stairs. If I went back to school full-time now, I would choose something like that.

List of supplies for learning

1. Paper: printer paper, loose-leaf paper to go in a binder, notebooks, note-pads for To Do list, etc.

2. A Wall Calendar or pocket calendar – preferably both.

3. Plenty of pens – maybe different colors – pencils, – maybe colored pencils – permanent markers – small pencil sharpener.

4. Scotch tape, masking tape, duct tape.

5. Paper clips of different sizes, rubber bands, push pins or thumb tacks,

6. Devices with sticky surface for hanging pictures without making holes.

7. Folders for holding term papers to turn in.

8. A clear plastic pouch that fits the holes in your binder to hold extra pens, pencils, sharpener, and other supplies that you carry with you…. if you take a binder to classes.

 Organize your supplies

A bright yellow cup holds a variety of pens and pencilsNow that you have your supplies, let’s organize them. Binders and notebooks, along with textbooks can go on a bookshelf or milk crate shelf.

Check out the space in your desk. You want to store the paper flat, especially printer paper.

You want at least one drawer with some sort of organizing tray to store the scissors, 3 hold punch, stapler, paper clips, etc.

A can or cup on the desk will store pens and pencils. The bright yellow cup in the picture might have been chosen t0 match somone’s color scheme.

Now the big question: What to you take to class for taking notes.

1. Some people prefer a single subject notebook for each subject. This was my preference. I only needed to carry the notebooks for classes I had that day. It meant, however, that each day, you needed to reorganize the back pack or whatever you use to carry materials to class.

2. Some people prefer a five subject notebook with one section per class or a large binder with one section per class. This way you carry the same notebook or binder every day.

3. Other people highly recommend carrying a folder with loose-leaf paper for taking notes (labeled with class, date, and page number if you take several pages of notes.) At the end of each day, you would take these notes and put them in binders  one large one with a section for each class or a smaller binder for each class. The advantages of this are. a. If you lose your notes, you only lose one day’s notes. b. It is much lighter to carry.

Organize your backpack, briefcase, or book bag

There are three main rules:

1. Take everything you need.  Books, notebooks, pens, homework, wallet, keys, water bottle, snack….

2. Do not take anything that you don’t need. When you keep your bag light and easy to carry, you also make it easier to find what you need.

3. Organize the bag so you know exactly where to look for things

. If you have two classes that morning and only need a book for calculus, You might put your calculus book and notebook in one section, and your history notebook in another section. I would put pens, pencils calculators and other small items in a small zippered pocket. If your bag doesn’t have such a pocket you can buy a small zippered container to use instead. This keeps the small items from getting lost in the bottom of your bag. Your water bottle, snack, and personal items can go in another space or container.

 Organize your desk

Begin by classifying your “stuff”.  What things will you need every day when you sit at your desk? These things should be easy to reach. You don’t want to waste time looking for these items.

You might put your textbooks on an easy-to-reach shelf of your bookcase. You might Arrange them side by side along the back of your desk. You don’t want to stack them on top of each other. You’d always want the book on the bottom. Your notebooks should also be easy to reach and easy to tell apart.  And you might want a cup of pens and pencils on the desk. It’s really great to keep most of the desk clean.

Materials you don’t need as often, can be placed in less convenient places.  Check out how many drawers are in your desk. Put the material you want to find easily but don’t always need in that drawer. It helps to have an organizing tray to separate small items like paper clips.

Materials you need least often can be stored in a lower drawer or in a closet.

If you think you’ll have trouble finding things, make a list or map showing where all items are and place this on a bulletin board or other easy to find place.

 Out of the clutter, find Simplicity. From discord, find Harmony. In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.                                                          —  Albert Einstein

The next page is   Budget Your Money

To see an entire list of what students need to bring from home or buy:     Packing List

2 Responses to Organize Materials

  1. Jennel says:

    Great advice thank u!!

    • Judy says:

      I am glad you found this helpful. You might want to check out my new book, Straight A’s Are Not Enough – now available on Amazon and – also in E-books.

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