Staying Organized in Grad School

Staying Organized in Grad School

I had been out of college for 5 years and after being accepted the knowledge of having to be a student again loomed over me. Homework, projects, exams, very little sleep are all things that crossed my mind. As a graduate student who is also out in the workforce I knew that I needed to find a way to stay organized in regards to classes and homework as well as any internships or extracurricular activities that I may have. I tried a lot of different organizational systems, planners, a white board, the Apple calendar that synchronizes between my phone and computer. All of these things are great, but for me they did not work. I would forget to bring my planner somewhere, I would keep the white board up for a month and then forget to switch it over, I found the calendar is great for Zoom links, but not homework assignments. There is a built in calendar on Canvas, and that can be helpful for sure, but what worked for me was digital sticky notes. I can pick from tons of colors, add bullet lists, numbers, checkboxes anything and they are always on my desktop so I see them every time my computer turns on.

Knowing that I am a visual learner who retains information more when color coded is super helpful. I recommend taking some time to explore what type of learner you are and building your organizational system based on that style. For instance I have a different color digital sticky note for each class, on Mondays I go onto Canvas as highlight and drag the assignments from each class to the corresponding sticky note. I then go into the notes and add a checkbox by the assignments so I can check them off as I go. This semester I have added an additional note for extracurricular or internship things I need to do outside of class, so they have their space in the organizational process.

Some of my classmates really like using reminders on their phone, a calendar that will sync from your phone to computer, a white board or chalkboard at home or even a home sticky note wall. We all learn in different ways and have different methods that work for us. I think it is important to try a couple of different methods before you decide which one works best for you. For example, I also bought a large journal that was specifically created for people in my career field, I liked that but found it was large and not easy to carry around. I would be consistent for a couple of days and then I would forget for a few days, this happened in a repeating cycle. This was hard for me to form a consistent habit of and would not be useful to me for school at this time, this is a habit I would like to form, but now it is not going to work for me. I also had a white board with the whole month on it and I wrote out all of my classes, it was hard for me to track homework on there, so that was halfway helpful at reminding me which classes fell on what day at what time and what days I worked, but it was not great for homework. So I have left the monthly calendar up on my wall but I use it in addition to the sticky notes I use on my computer. Through this trial and error process I was able to determine which method works the best for me and that is the one I stuck with. Even when I chose my application to use with the sticky notes I tried multiple apps that offered the same services, I wanted to see which was the most user friendly, which had the quickest shortcuts and was easy to navigate. I settled on Memo, I also downloaded the application created by Sticky Note, but Memo is the one that works the best for me.


This is the menu within Memo, you can select size, color, share it….etc.

Having a good organizational system will carry on after school into your work life and your personal life. Organizing with a strong system will help you be able to prioritize tasks in all aspects of your life. I recommend taking the time to figure out the best system for you and use it to help you achieve more in school, work and life in the most efficient way possible.