If you're in college, you probably know how easy it is to lose track of a handout or assignment. By learning how to organize each of your classes, you will no longer have to dig under a pile of loose papers. If you can manage to fill out one or two filing cabinets, it will be difficult for you to forget your belongings at home.
Part 1 of 2: Organize a workbook
Step 1. Sort your documents by subject
If your binder or notebooks are full of notes from different courses without a specific order, start by sorting them into several separate piles. Rank them in chronological order of your lessons.
Step 2. Take the piles one by one and remove the old documents
Remove graded assignments and homework already completed and keep them in a separate binder or folder to leave at home to help you revise your next tests. Set aside class work from previous years, submitted projects, and any papers unrelated to the school. Keep any documents you think are useful to help you review, as well as any projects that you or your parents want to keep just for fun. Throw away everything else.
Keep your filing cabinet or "home" shirts in a place where you can make sure you don't lose them, for example on a shelf in your bedroom
Step 3. Make sure you can fit all the sheets into a workbook
Having a single binder for all of your classes is a good thing to help keep you organized, since you don't have to keep different notebooks for each class. If you have a huge stack of sheets, divide them into two binders using these different methods:
- Use one binder for all morning classes and another for afternoon classes. If you have a locker at school, you will only need to carry one of the two binders at a time, but remember to bring both home after school.
- If your school has grouped the same courses on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and the other courses on Tuesday and Thursday, separate your courses into two workbooks so that you only take one workbook per day. Make sure you put the correct binder in your backpack the night before your class day.
Step 4. To separate each lesson, insert colored dividers into your binder
The dividers are just card stock in different colors with a small tab to write down the course material. Put dividers in your binder in the chronological order of your lessons. For example, if your first lesson of the day is a math lesson and the second is a French lesson, put a blue insert called “Maths” at the start of your workbook, followed by a red insert called “French”.
Step 5. Insert a perforated flap folder between each course section
Folders are great tools because they allow you to remove and put back your sheets without having to open and close the file rings. Do not use it for all your sheets. The ideal would be to store the handouts and homework to be returned the next day or two there, since they will not stay there very long.
Step 6. Use a clear sleeve to protect important documents
Most courses have a very specific program, a list of homework assignments and other documents that you will need to consult throughout the term. For each lesson, take a perforated transparent plastic sleeve (three holes) and put it in your binder after the flap folders for each lesson. Keep each important document in a separate sleeve to prevent tearing.
Step 7. Sort the other papers to see if you need white dividers
Before putting all the other documents in your binder, sort the sheets for each course from oldest to newest. If you have more than fifteen sheets per stack, use white dividers to categorize them. They are the same dividers except that they are white and the difference in color will help you know that these documents are part of the same material. Here are some examples that will help you divide the sheets of a single subject into several sections.
- For the majority of your lessons, use three white dividers called "Handouts", "Homework" and "Notes".
- If a teacher gives you controls on very specific topics, classify your lessons according to these different categories for easier review. For example, classify your French lessons into two categories: "Readings" and "Vocabulary".
Step 8. Put the rest of your documents away
Once you have decided how to sort your sheets, put them one by one after the colored dividers for each corresponding course and after the white dividers for each category (optional). Organize your sheets in each section in chronological order: from the most recent to the oldest, so that you can find your lessons more easily.
Step 9. Add checkered sheets for taking notes
Put between ten and twenty for each lesson. You will probably need more leaves than this for the whole term, but you don't have to put everything in now. Keeping as few sheets as possible in your binder makes it easier to find your notes and reduces the weight of your backpack.
Add graph paper for your math or science lessons if your teacher asks you to
Part 2 of 2: stay organized
Step 1. Put away your filing cabinet every night before going to sleep
Take a little time each day to sort through your papers and what is lying around. Take out the graded homework and old handouts and put them in a folder that you keep at home so you can use them for your revisions. Make sure all of your homework is in the correct folder in your filing cabinet.
If you put your filing cabinet away right after school, you'll get used to it and do it a lot more often. Waiting too long can demotivate you to continue with this method
Step 2. Use an agenda
A diary with a page for each day or a portable calendar is very useful for keeping track of the homework you have to do. Many write each assignment on the corresponding day. If you're worried about forgetting to check your homework, you can try another system that lets you record all your homework in one place.
- Whenever you are given homework, write it down in your planner for today, and write next to each homework the actual date you need to do it.
- Every evening after school, check your diary for the day before. Cross out any homework already done and then re-write down any homework that is unfinished by today's date.
Step 3. Keep all of the supplies at home in a specific location
Returned notebooks, binders and homework can easily get lost under a messy pile. Prevent this from happening by optimizing space on a shelf or in a drawer and always keep them in the same place. Store all the papers left at home in a folder provided for this purpose, separating them from those in your binder.
Step 4. Opt for color codes to associate the other supplies with your filing cabinet
Ideally, you won't need extra notebooks, but some teachers do. If this is the case, make sure to associate each notebook with the corresponding subject with a color code. For example, if your math class is after a blue divider in your workbook, grab a blue notebook and a blue flap folder for your math class.