Sol writes: Spring Cleaning? Don’t forget your desk!

Is it spring yet? This past weekend, I went outside, all optimism, looking for signs of snowdrops or crocuses. Nothing yet. What I do have is a bumper crop of work assignments, and three courses worth of homework. When I got to the point where I was overwhelmed, this past weekend, I did what any good adventurer ought to do: I stopped.

That’s what you do. When you get to the point where working harder just doesn’t work, it’s time to start working more efficient, more effective, more ORGANIZED. I’d like to talk about that now, and what I’m doing to get myself more prepared for my classes.

Step one: Clean out your bookbag. Get a couple of plastic, multipocket folders, then start on the wilderness in your bag. Empty it out. Start putting things where they belong. Label the pockets; don’t trust yourself to remember which is which when you’re shoving things into your bag after class. One folder per course, and in that folder, label one pocket for homework you have to do, another for homework ready to turn in, and still another for corrected homework to take home and put in a binder. Another pocket is for extra resources you’re using, if there are any.

Now you’ve got one per subject, do yourself one more favor: make one more, to hold all the things from your life that you’d otherwise throw into your school stuff just to keep track of it all. You know the items I mean. Work papers, garage tickets, the notecard with your study partner’s email address. Stop putting it in your way.

Once a week, go through all of them and make sure they’re sorted out. Once a week, clean out your bag. Sort out your papers. Give yourself a chance to stop.

Step two: Clean your desk! The place where you study… and eat, and email, and pile papers on. Get a clean work surface, and look at what areas you’re cluttering up. You may need an inbox, a file folder (I use a cardboard box), or maybe just a better plan for where to put things when you first come home (I’m looking guiltily at the suit jackets piled on the back of my chair.)

Step three: Clean your schedule. Start blocking out hours on your meeting schedule for homework. If you’re not working, plan home time for it. Plan time before or after class in the library (the Grossman library is great for this, and all you need is a printout of your class registration.) There are lots of places on campus that are good for study, even classrooms if you show up early for a 5:30 class. The point is to make that time apart from everything else, and don’t let the rest of your life crowd into it. You can’t make up in marathon sessions what you miss in daily doses. Study is just like exercise; it’s an everyday thing. If you want to be physically healthy, you make time for it. If you want to pass your classes, plan time to study.

Step four: Daily practice. Habits don’t change overnight. There are some great study tips over at http://bsc.harvard.edu/onlineresources.htm that can help you shore up your weaker areas a little.

It’s going to be awhile before my crocuses show up. By that point, I’ll have handed in the current round of projects, passed my Japanese midterm (I’m determined!) and I’ll still have my folders organized. Think of it as academic spring cleaning. What are you doing to help yourself get organized? I’d love to hear your tips!

One Comment

  1. huskylover
    Posted March 17, 2010 at 10:21 am | Permalink

    I enjoy reading this page, always find out something new stuff.
    Emily R. from Training Huskies

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