As the first week of school is upon us, I was asked (ok I volunteered) to share my back to school tips that I have learned in my last 3 and a half years at SMU. The most important thing you can do is to get organized, in all areas of your world. Organize your academic space, your digital space, and your physical space.
Even if I don’t have all my syllabi and classes on canvas yet, there are several ways that I prep my academic space for the start of school. The first thing that I will do is set up my calendar for the semester. I prefer to use Apple Calendar because I can color code my different activities and have the same information between my phone and laptop. I make sure to add the location of the class so when the first day of class rolls around I don’t have to pull up my.smu on my phone. I also add the professor’s name and the course number so I can use my calendar as a quick reference in case I forget. This is when I’ll also add my work schedule and any other recurring events I know I’ll have during the semester. I also use a physical planner throughout the semester to keep track of assignments. In the time before I have all my syllabi I will color code each class and write in major dates that I do know.
The next thing I do is get digitally organized. That’s right, clean up your computer files and desktop. First I will delete all the junk and random files off of my desktop, making sure to empty my trash after. Next I’ll create new folders for each of my classes, and move the old classes into a Fall 2020 folder. You may find this task very intimidating, especially if your desktop looks anything like mine. But having a clean computer and even a super basic file organization system will make it so much easier for you to find important documents throughout the semester.
The last piece of advice I have for you is an oldie but a goodie. Clean up your room. After living in a space for at least a semester, it can be super helpful to rethink how you organize your room. Did you actually use your storage, desk, and sitting areas as you intended? How may you better adapt the space to how you actually use it? For example I personally struggle to use my desk as a workspace. I think through why I don’t use it and come up with some possible solutions.. If my desk chair is uncomfortable, then maybeI should find a cushion or pillow for it. If I clutter my desk with junk, then I should find a different area I can use for just junk. This is a time to be realistic not idealistic. I can tell myself that I will not clutter up my desk anymore, but I know that won’t happen. It’s going to be much more productive to adapt your space to your behavior than to hope the behavior you’ve learned over the past 6 months will magically change.
The beginning of the semester can be stressful and confusing. I hope some of these tips can help you adjust to a new schedule as easily as possible!
Class of 2021