adult student organization tips

Organization 101: Essential Tips for Adult Learners

For some of us, organization comes easily. Perhaps your desk is lined with picture-perfect mason jars, each neatly labeled. For others, this level of organization may seem unnecessary. It might even seem intimidating.

But staying organized doesn’t have to be overwhelming. There are ways to get yourself more organized that don’t involve a label maker and trips to the Container Store. Some level of organization, however, can keep you from feeling like you’re losing track of things. College and university students at all levels find that keeping themselves organized prevents them from getting burnt out in the future. By organizing everything you’ll need to succeed, you can be more successful and manage your time more effectively — protecting yourself against unnecessary stress.

If you’re not feeling organized yet, don’t panic. Here are some essential tips for keeping order as you stride towards your academic goals!

Stay on Top of Your Game with a Planner.

Keeping a detailed planner is one of the best ways to remain on track to academic success. By using a planner, you can document and visualize when assignments are due. A good planner can also help you keep track of academic, personal, and professional commitments. This can serve as a road map —helping you remember everything you need to do to achieve your goals. Better still, your planner doesn’t have to be a physical planner. Many websites and apps (such as Trello,) provide free digital planners.

Keep Track with To-Do Lists.

If a planner helps you keep sight of the big picture, then a to-do list helps you keep track of daily expectations. Following daily or weekly to-do lists helps ensure that you manage your time wisely and accomplish everything that needs to be done. Again, this doesn’t have to be a paper and pencil list — a to-do list could be as simple as a checklist on your phone!

Folders Are Your Friends.

Whether they be digital or physical, we recommend using folders to keep your course materials organized. By keeping your assignments and important documents in one place, you save time that may have otherwise been spent trying to find what you need. This, in turn, helps you avoid stress and stay focused.

Study the Syllabus.

The most important thing to keep track of for any course? The syllabus! Make sure you have easy, ready access to the syllabus for each class you’re taking.

Moreover, make sure you really take the time to read each syllabus. Taking the time to learn what will be expected of you from each course can help you plan and prioritize throughout the semester.

Practice Purposeful Notetaking.

Even if your professors supply lecture and reading outlines, keeping your own notes will help you process and retain key concepts.

Whether you’re writing notes by hand or typing them into a document, keeping your notes organized can sometimes become tricky. Some students get the most out of notes that incorporate visual aids. For example, mind mapping can help you identify main ideas and establish meaningful connections between different concepts. For those who prefer a more formal structure to their notes, outlining helps you create a bulleted overview of important topics and their key ideas.

Set Up a Study Space.

Most of your time as a university student isn’t spent inside the classroom. Furthermore, a growing number of students are opting into remote learning — foregoing time in a physical classroom altogether, and studying from home.

Whether you’re taking classes in person or online, you need the right space to study and work on your assignments. The “right space” is different for everyone — while some people may work best in a bustling coffee shop, others may need total silence to focus. Whatever work environment is best for you, be sure you’ll have easy access to everything you need. Keep your space orderly, too. Reducing clutter in your space helps prevent your brain from creating clutter of its own!

Get into a Routine.

Considering that we are creatures of habit, it’s no surprise that we function best when we know what to expect.

Having an established routine helps you stay organized and productive. Moreover, sticking to a routine is great for your mental health. By having a predictable routine, you can reduce stress and anxiety. Aside from helping you feel your best, avoiding stress will prevent you from burning out later in the semester.

Set Short-Term Goals.

One of the best ways to stay organized and motivated is to set clear goals for yourself.

We know that pursuing higher education is an amazing goal in and of itself. But earning your degree or certification is a long-term goal that can take months or years to achieve. By establishing short-term goals, you can focus on taking things step-by-step.

One proven goal-setting strategy is the SMART method. A SMART goal is:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time-bound

For example, A SMART goal might be to get an “A” or “B” on an upcoming quiz.

Make the Most of Your Education at Goodwin.

At Goodwin, we’re dedicated to making higher education accessible and affordable. Our career-focused degree and certificate programs are flexibly designed to fit your schedule, and we offer a variety of financial aid options to help you afford your education, including scholarships, grants, loans, and work-study.

Your higher ed journey starts here. Learn more about enrolling at Goodwin University today!