BY JANE HURST
Weekly assignments, midterms, final papers… all piling up each day, making every year of your college life seem more difficult than the previous one. But it doesn’t have to be this hard.
There are several different ways to help you sort out your assignments and actually get started with completing them. Whether you prefer putting all your notes and ideas on paper or would rather reduce your carbon footprint and go all in for tech, here are 5 ways to organize your student assignments:
- Assignment binders and planners
Perhaps the most accessible method for organizing your student assignments is creating a binder to hold all your papers, reminders, and auxiliary materials. You can either create one for each class or a separate binder for your assignments only. Alternatively, you can put together an up-to-date semester agenda with assignments and their due dates so you can check it out each week to see what’s next for you to prepare and if you’re on track with college work.
These two options are strong organization tools you can reach out to at any time. Try color-coding or sorting them in a specific order of your choice to find the files you need more easily. For instance, you can divide your assignments binder into 3 parts: a red folder for assignments you have to complete, a yellow one for the ones you’re working on, and a green folder for any papers you’ve already delivered. Be careful here not to put an assignment you’re done with into the green folder until you’ve delivered it to your teacher.
- Digital Kanban boards
If you’d rather have a tool remind you when your assignments are due, try digital Kanban boards. A Kanban visual board is a practical method that lets you track all assignments and college work through 3 simple stages: To Do, In Progress, and Finished/Delivered.
You’ll receive email notifications or alerts whenever an assignment’s deadline is approaching. The best part is that these tools can also be used together with your classmates in case you’ve got group projects to work on.
Free project management software options like Paymo often offer a Kanban feature in addition to simple to-do lists that will also allow you to keep track of any other duties you have be they personal or college related.
- Consider a cloud-based file storage solution
If you’re always on the run going from one class to another, you probably won’t want to keep all your files, binders, and notes with you. Online file storage options like Dropbox or Google Drive help you store all of these in a single place.
This way, you’ll be able to access your assignments and class notes from anywhere whether you’re on your laptop, smartphone, or classroom computer. You can also become a power user of these digital solutions by learning how to organize your files into folders so you’ve got every structured according to your year of study, semester, and class.
- The classical desktop folders
For those of you who like taking their laptop to class and writing down all notes digitally, you might want to stick to organizing all files in your computer. This is an accessible and free method that will also allow you to get started with an assignment without having to download any external files.
An example for this filing system could be: Assignments -> Molecular Foundations -> Midterm Assignments -> To Do -> DNA recombination paper (file).
To make sure you don’t miss a deadline, just pair this method with a project management tool or your calendar app to send you regular reminders in time.
- The Big6 Organizer
Now that you’ve got your files sorted, you need a strategy to get started with working on your assignments. The Big6 method is a 6-step process that helps you conduct your research through a series of clear stages. This way you’ll never be stuck again wondering what you’re supposed to do next.
The 6 stages are:
- Task definition – Define your information-related problem and find the facts and figures you need.
2. Information seeking strategies – Identify all potential information sources and establish the best ones.
3. Location and access – Locate these sources and find the info you need within them.
4. Use of information – Engage with the information you found by reading any written content, watching a video, or experimenting and extract only the information that is relevant to your research.
5. Synthesis – Organize the info you found in your multiple sources and present it in a structured manner.
6. Evaluation – Judge the effectiveness of your results and analyze if the research process was efficient and you’ve covered all of the assignment’s aspects.
Test a few of these methods for organizing your student assignments before you decide to rigorously follow one. Pay particular attention to how stress-free you feel when using one or another of these techniques. For example, if you’re feeling anxious at all times thinking you’ll forget to hand in an assignment, then perhaps it’s better for you to go for one of the digital methods that will notify you whenever a due date is approaching.
Jane Hurst has been working in education for over 5 years as a teacher. She loves sharing her knowledge with students, is fascinated about edtech and loves reading, a lot. Follow Jane on Twitter.