Organization and STEP (Steps to Everyday Productivity) principles have been a huge part of my life since I was in elementary school. Whenever I would reach stressful moments in school, get stuck planning out a huge project, or wonder how on earth I would keep up with all of my tasks, my parents showed me simple ways to move forward and keep everything simple and manageable.
As a current college student, I can’t imagine my life without organization and all of the systems that I have in place for homework, projects, work, and more. However, so many students are expected to be organized and on top of everything, but they never receive any training! That’s why I created STEP for Students (more on that later) and it’s one of the biggest reasons why I was so excited to record today’s podcast!
Here are five simple principles that really stand out to me–ones I use every single day!
And as we mentioned on the podcast, if you are not familiar with the STEP program or principles and you are interested in learning more, you can watch our free webinar: How to Stop Drowning in Piles.
1. Use a Calendar for Recurring Events
- Find a calendar (app or paper version) that works best for you.
- Add classes, work meetings, sports practices, etc. using the “repeat” feature so that your schedule is up to date and shows exactly what you have going on each day and week.
- Look at your calendar daily!
- Create a shortcut on your phone (enlarge the calendar icon if possible) to show your upcoming tasks and events.
2. Plan Projects with Next Actions
- Break projects down into the smallest, next step that will allow you to complete the project.
- In the podcast I gave an example about a 10-page essay in my English class. Here are my next actions:
- Spend 5 minutes picking a topic.
- Spend 10 minutes searching for sources online.
- Spend 15 minutes looking at the university library’s website to fins peer-reviewed articles.
- Create a rough outline with paragraph topics.
- Write the introduction paragraph.
- You can use any app (I prefer using Asana) or paper to plan out your Next Actions.
This applies to any project you might be working on–student or not!
3. Create Routines for Yourself
- Create a list of the tasks that you find yourself doing on a weekly, monthly, quarterly, and yearly basis.
- Add reminders to a “reminder” app or in another organizational app that you like. I like to create a “layer” on Google Calendar, and this allows me to remove my routines from my main calendar, but have the flexibility to add them back when I would like a reminder of my current routines.
- If you have an assignment that requires you to keep a daily journal or take attendance every Thursday, for example, these routines will be so helpful for you so that things don’t fall through the cracks!
4. Create Email Folders, Multiple Inboxes, and Unsubscribe
- If you aren’t familiar with email folders, there are tutorials online that will teach you how to sort emails that you would like to save.
- I use Gmail, and there is a great feature that allows you to have several additional inboxes on your main email screen. I have an inbox for new emails, current project-related emails, purchases I’ve made/tracking numbers, and mu husband has some for follow-up emails that he is waiting to reply to or send.
- Unsubscribe from emails that you are not excited to receive or receive each day/week. This will reduce so much clutter in your inbox!
5. Create a Password System
- Passwords can be tricky to remember, and if you need to do some tasks that require you to log into several sites, you might not feel super motivated to complete them.
- One thing that my mom learned from the book The Organized Mind is to create a magic sentence (a sentence that isn’t written down anywhere) and use the first letter of each word in the sentence as the password, adding in a special character, capital letter, and number. For each new website, you can add a letter to signify the website (for example, L for LearnDoBecome) and add it to the beginning or end of the magic sentence. The password then changes for each site you use, but is not extremely difficult for you to remember each time.
- This is just one idea of many for password management–there are lots of other resources and methods out there to choose from!
If you enjoyed these organizational ideas, my STEP for Students or Organized for College program might be a good fit for you!
STEP for Students is geared towards middle and high school students. I filmed the videos and created all of the resources as a high school student, and used examples that directly relate to this age group. You will find simple modules on how to organize:
- A Bedroom
- Projects & Goals
- Digital Files & Emails
Organized for College is a brand-new program geared towards college students. I created this program just a few months ago and have recorded a few short, but powerful videos (and tutorials) on:
- Organizing a College Dorm/Apartment
- Planning an Entire College Semester with Digital Tools
- Completing Multi-Step Projects
- Following-Up and Setting Calendar Reminders
- Setting Up Digital Folders