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Top 5 Tips to Stay Organized and be Productive this Year

By Megha Karthikeyan

September 21, 2017

Avoid stress and feeling overwhelmed—we’re here to help you stay on top of your fall semester.

Layout all your assignments and meetings in a calendar and check it regularly.

I cannot stress enough how important it is to have a system of organizing your life when you are in college. There are many different deadlines for papers and exams, along with club meetings, interviews, and spending time with your friends.

I recommend putting everything on a calendar (online or paper) or using the “Reminders” app on your phone. Make sure to do this for not only school assignments but for extracurricular activities as well. Many people will remind themselves to do homework but will forget to put that 6pm business club meeting on their calendar.

Showing up on time and being reliable is incredibly important, and you don’t want to miss something simply because you forgot. I find that having this method of organization makes me feel less stressed about the week because I know how to pace myself and can tell how much time I need to complete certain assignments.

Keep up with internship and interview deadlines.

In the finance world, the recruiting season is moving up every year and now applications are usually due by the end of September with interviews being in November. You must not only balance your new classes, moving into a new apartment, and starting up again on activities, but also the summer internship applications. This means you must keep track of all the deadlines.

I recommend creating an Excel or Google spreadsheet with a list of all the internships and programs you want to apply for along with their application timeline. This includes their application deadline along with when interviews are for the internship.

You’ll be able to prioritize which internships to apply to first and which ones can wait. Make sure to add this information to your calendar. Even if you have the spreadsheet, you want to make sure you remember to apply by adding it to your reminders.

Get ahead on assignments (especially readings) when possible.

Since most college professors give their full course syllabus at the beginning of the semester, you should try to get ahead on readings when you have free time. I try to read a class ahead during the weekends for my reading heavy classes, so I have more time during the week.

If I have a large chunk of time on the weekend, I will try to read two classes worth of readings in one sitting so that I am ahead and don’t have to rush the night before to get the reading done. This also helps in case an unexpected assignment or obligation comes up because then you have time to work on those assignments rather than keeping up with your readings.

If you have a paper due, make sure you start on the assignment early. This means going to your professor’s office hours in advance and not going when the paper is due because then you will be waiting in line with other students who also need their questions answered.

If you want to write a good quality paper, starting on it early and asking questions in the beginning stage is much better than waiting until the last minute to fix your paper.

Put away you phone while doing homework!

I know this is very hard to do. I find that even having my phone facedown next to me while doing work is distracting. Sometimes we want to give ourselves a study break and look at our phones, but a 5 minute break can turn into 45 minutes of mindless scrolling through our Instagram feeds.

I think the best option would be to put your phone in a place where you can’t easily reach it from where you are working. If it’s in a place where you must physically get up to get your phone, then you are less likely to break your concentration of doing homework to get it.

The reason it takes people such a long time to do work is because of how many times they look at their phones while completing the assignment. If you can maintain your focus on the task at hand and not look at your phone until you complete the task, you will get your work done much faster and won’t feel that you spent such a long time on that assignment.

Maximize the use of your time.

In college, classes are short compared to high school and students usually have gaps of time before their next class starts. I recommend using these gaps to do as much homework as possible.

Instead of watching Netflix or going back to your apartment to hang around, using that time to do readings, complete assignments or even apply to internships is a good use of your time. You no longer have to wait to get home to do your homework like in high school.

College gives you the flexibility to work on assignments on your own time so making use of any breaks you have to get ahead on assignments is very useful. This way, you don’t have a pile of homework waiting for you when you get back from your classes. It also frees up your evenings when you can attend club meetings and spend time with your friends.

Megha Karthikeyan is from Vienna, Virginia and attends the University of Virginia. She intends to double major in Economics and Commerce at the McIntire School of Commerce with finance and information technology concentrations. Megha will graduate from UVA in 2020. She hopes to work in the finance industry as a finance or risk analyst, but is also looking at working in investment banking.

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