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Keeping A Handle On College Homework

As Published In Professional Organizers Blog Carnival
Keeping A Handle On College Homework

Learning to stay organized in college is often a challenge — even for conscientious students. You no longer have mom or dad looking over your shoulder, checking to make sure assignments are completed on time. Your schedule is often erratic and unstructured, without the comforting daily routine you had in high school. And your professors are too busy teaching thousands of other students to care if you complete the coursework. It’s entirely up to you to keep your head above water. But how? Like this!

Set Aside Regular Study Time

Once you hit college, say goodbye to a “normal” schedule. You may have an 8 AM lecture (and be done by lunch) on Monday, not start until 3 PM (and finish after dark) on Tuesday, and have no Wednesday class at all. Then there’s the rest of college life — work, campus events, clubs, fraternities, sports, social activities. It’s hard to fit in a consistent block of time for homework — if you’re not careful, you’ll find yourself rushing to complete assignments late at night or early before school.

You may not be able to study at the same time every day, but you can set up a weekly schedule that allows you to tackle homework during the same chunk each day of the week. So for example, you might block off an hour right after lunch on Mondays, an hour first thing in the morning on Tuesdays, and a longer study session on your free Wednesdays. A disciplined homework routine will keep you from accidentally forgetting an assignment or missing a deadline — just make sure you have a good calendar system or planner/reminder app, so you can keep track of everything!

Think About Your Study Environment

Living on your own in a dorm or apartment for the first time is exciting — but it’s not particularly conducive to developing good study habits. There’s too much commotion, too much noise, too many distractions. You answer the phone or a friend drops by, you decide to put in a load of laundry or watch a little TV — suddenly the whole day is gone before you know it, and you haven’t gotten any work done!

That’s why universities set up rows of carrels in the library, so kids can have a reliable place to focus on their schoolwork. If you don’t like the library, choose a study area in another building — any spot that’s quiet, comfortable, well lit, and away from the hustle and bustle. (Preferably NOT a Starbucks!) Also set up a portable “study kit” — a hanging file box or expanding file that contains all of your supplies and school papers. Then settle in for an uninterrupted hour of work each day. You’ll find that you get your assignments done twice as fast as you would in the middle of all that “dorm chaos,” and then you’ll have plenty of free time to hang out with your friends.

Making Choices And Setting Boundaries

In college, your schedule becomes your own for the first time in your life. You’ll discover very quickly that you simply don’t have time for everything — that’s when you learn to prioritize. Keep your calendar with you at all times, and write down EVERY important upcoming to-do that you can think of — football games, dentist appointments, work shifts, classes, study sessions, club meetings, project due dates, social activities, you name it. Then you’ll be able to pinpoint scheduling conflicts and make a decision about which activity is more important. When faced with a choice between writing a paper and attending a party, it’s easy to say, “I’ll do it later” — but that only works if you pick a specific time and schedule it into your calendar! Just remember why you’re at school in the first place — for an education. If the fun stuff is getting in the way of studying, you might need to make a few adjustments in your schedule.

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Ramona Creel is an award-winning 15-year veteran organizer and member of the National Association Of Professional Organizers. As well as having birthed “The A-To-Z Of Getting Organized,” Ramona is also the author of “The Professional Organizer’s Bible: A Slightly Irreverent And Completely Unorthodox Guide For Turning Clutter Into A Career”—and the creator of more than 200 “quick-start” business tools and templates for use by productivity professionals. She writes seven different blogs, has worked with hundreds of clients, and has delivered scores of presentations on getting organized. Ramona resides on the roads of America as a full-time RVer—living and working in a 29-foot Airstream. Learn more at and

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