Autumn Organization: An Introduction

In organization on September 3, 2009 at 10:00 am


As a writing teacher, I’ve seen all types of working styles for students. Often, the first day of the semester, students come to class with carefully coordinated notebooks and folders, with matching post-its and an indexed system for papers. By mid-semester, things have changed. Students lose the syllabus or forget deadlines. All those beautiful organizational systems have turned into one pile, and I can see the exhaustion and stress on students’ faces.

Once, while helping a student with her research paper, I suggested that we look at a particular article she quoted.”Oh, I know exactly where that article is,” she said, and she began shuffling the stack of papers in front of her. It was an impressive stack of articles, and she flipped through each one, checking and double checking. After 15 minutes, she said. “Oh, I know where that article is. It’s in my car. Is it okay if I go out to my car to look?” 20 minutes later, she had extracted the article from the floor of the front seat of her car. It was crumpled, with a footprint on it. We settled down to take a look. “Oh, I don’t think this is the right article after all,” she said.

This kind of scenario can be avoided with a little organization and, most importantly, a system that will work for you when things get rough later in the semester. Being organized isn’t about those perfectly matched folders (although they are nice!). It’s about establishing habits so that you don’t have to think about where you put your research articles or where you wrote down those mid-term dates. Of course, nothing can make student life a piece of cake—especially if you’re taking a difficult set of classes or more than 12 units at once. Still, a little organization can go a long way toward easing the stress later on. In the coming weeks, I’ll share with you a series of things that I use to help keep my projects, papers, and research organized—along with things that have worked for some of my students and colleagues—and some tips from organizational experts.

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Here is a list of previous posts that might help, as you work on establishing an organizational system for the start of the year:

Using a Syllabus Wisely

Hate Taking Notes? Try These Tools

Links to Help you Start the School Year

Super Cool Organizational Tool

Getting Ready for Fall: Using a Calendar

Getting Some Kind of Organizational System


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