A typical residence bedroom looks like a tornado has torn through it, or at least mine did when I was living in residence. Papers strewn all over the desk and floor, dirty clothes laying in piles and a laptop and books shoved under the bed.

While this may have worked in high school, university is a whole new game. It is a place where professors aren’t as forgiving if you mix up a deadline. There are so many notes it’s hard to keep them even remotely organized.

Alexandra Felsky, a professional organizer from Brantford, says that the key to keeping a small space clean and organized is to bring only what you need. Many students make the mistake of bringing nearly everything they own with them to school. The fact is, you’re probably going to be sharing your tiny room with another person and their mess. You don’t need to have all your heavy winter coats in the springtime, and you don’t need to have your shorts in the winter. Leaving these kinds of items behind will cut down on how much you have to try and fit in your tiny closet.

Felsky also suggests keeping a running inventory of all the school supplies you need. This will keep your stress levels down by making sure that you always have what you need, and when you need it. Keeping a running list is easy enough. Just keep it someplace visible and try to keep track of what you have and what you need. If a big project is coming up, you will know in advance if you need to make a trip to the office supply store.

Another extremely helpful tool for university students is the calendar. Felsky says it doesn’t matter if you use a calendar on your laptop, phone or the giant purple one that hangs on your wall that the bookstore pushes each September. It’s important to know all your due dates for every class and to put those on a calendar. It’s not only essential to know when things are due, but to also plan time to do the work so you’re not scrambling at the last minute.

Having your own systems for labeling your notes is something that Felsky emphasizes for students. Especially when you are keeping notes on a laptop, it’s important to figure out a system that works so you can easily find notes that you’re looking for when it comes time to study for exams. “If you have a class called A123 or something, but you call it Sociology, then label your notes Sociology,” Felsky suggests.

If you’re going to take notes by hand, then it’s important to know the simplest way to keep your notes in order. Felsky says using a binder with paper is easier than trying to use spiral notebooks. The reasoning behind this is that you can easily customize how many pages are in it, and you can move your notes around and group them if you need to.

In terms of the actual space, it’s important to use all the space that you can. It’s important to use vertical space, Felsky emphasizes. In residence, students are allowed to cover 20 per cent of their walls, but instead of putting up posters, Felsky suggests hanging up shelving instead. While students aren’t allowed to put nails in the wall, there are hooks that can easily be removed from without leaving any kind of hole or residue. Don’t forget to use the back of your door to maximize vertical space as well.

It’s hard to stay organized, especially if you get involved on campus. But if you can come up with systems that help, it can make both life and school a little easier. It’s all about finding the system that works for you, because in the end you’re the one using it.

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