Dear Ally,

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Organization is a Lifelong Habit


Dear Ally,

Hope you are doing well and enjoying your classes! Your Uncle Adam and I cut his hair off this evening to mail to Pantene’s Beautiful Lengths. That will save him 10-15 minutes every morning. Sometimes it’s little changes in our daily routines that make the biggest impact.

Being organized is exactly that, small habits that become big time savers and stress reducers. People talk about organization being a skill that someone either has or not or they say they need to get organized as if it’s a one time act.  There will be an initial categorization and determination of where things go, but then it’s a matter of sticking to the system and taking time each day to put things where they belong. Someone recently gave me advice to “never touch anything more than once.” They were specifically talking about not re-reading e-mails, but the same holds true for physical objects. If I take a piece of paper and put it in a pile, I’ll have to look at it again later to file it or throw it away. If I deal with it immediately, I’ll save the time of having to look at it again and save the stress of having a large pile on my desk. I don’t know about you, but when I go into an office similar to the one in the picture above, I feel uncomfortable and stressed and it’s not even my mess.

For college students, the most important thing to organize is class materials. In a previous post, I mentioned a student in  office hours that took 10 minutes to find her questions. That student did not pass my class, unfortunately. The second time she took my class, I created a binder collection assignment specifically targeting her need for organization. She aced the class. Her success was most likely not solely due to her being forced to organize, but I’m sure it played a part.

What did I make them do for the binder collection? First I made them buy a 2″ binder with dividers with labels. The student I mentioned had all her notes, etc in a flimsy folder that was too small and everything  always fell out of it. If you don’t already own a hole-puncher, buy one, a good one that will punch 10-15 pages at once. Next they had to label the dividers: handouts, notes, homework, exams, and practice problems. All course materials were placed in the appropriate section in chronological order, oldest to newest. The first thing in the binder was the syllabus, so it’s easy to find. The assignment required them to keep and correct all their returned work. The whole point being that it was there for them to study.

It doesn’t matter how you organize, as long as everything has its place. Some professors organize their materials based on topics or chapters. You might mirror the way the professor organizes the course. These days you might have electronic copies instead of physical paper, but the idea is the same and electronic copies mean that you can use the search feature of your computer. I’ve recently begun using One Note and love it because the notes and files are organized from their very creation, don’t take up any actual physical space, and can be accessed from any device with a browser.

Good luck forming new habits that save you time! It will be worth it and habits you develop now will most likely become habits for life! By the way, Woodward says, “Hi!” He’s biting my fingers as I’m trying to type this because I’m not petting him. Do you realize he just turned 8 years old this month?!


Aunt Sarah


1 Comment

  1. […] This is the one skill I am able to say that I used daily and I won’t say more about it, since I’ve written about it in the past. […]


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