It’s that time of the year again, and I couldn’t be more excited! Yes, by “that time of the year again,” I am obviously referring to back-to-school season. School supplies are on sale, textbooks and pens are flying off the shelves, and everyone is getting ready to learn. With all of this activity, what better way to prepare for another school year than back to school organization tips? Well, today we are going to talk about just that! So, let’s dive in… shall we?
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Why is Getting Organized So Important?
Before we get into the goods, let’s briefly talk about some of the great benefits of getting organized before the school year begins. Back to school organization can:
- Reduce stress and anxiety before the big first day back
- Save you a TON of time, you’ll always know where everything is located and what is next on your todo list
- Help set you up for a successful school year
Study Planner Freebie
I’ve got a little gift for you! Here is my tried-and-true study printable planner. It is absolutely FREE to you. Grab it now so you will be ready when your first exam comes!
Back to School Must-Have Supplies
Next, let’s talk about some much-needed supplies that will ensure your back to school organization game is strong this year. As a bonus, now is the PERFECT time to grab these supplies, as back to school sales are in full swing! (Check out some MASSIVE back to school sales here!)
- Binder: I will always go back to this amazing Staples Better Binder for all of my organizational needs. They last forever, even when you toss them into your bag over and over again! Personally, I prefer the 1.5 inch with D-rings. It is the perfect size and your papers never get stuck in the back.
- Student Planner: You cannot start the school year without a student planner! I’ve got to say, I was never able to find that perfect student planner I always needed, so I created my own. It is a printable planner (so you can reprint any page you need, and easily put into your school binder) and includes over 50 student worksheets and planning pages. Check it out!
- Dividers: These are, hands-down, the perfect dividers. They are a great price and have pockets on each of the dividers for loose paper.
- Filler Paper: Not all filler paper is created equal. I absolutely swear by this paper. It is a tiny bit more expensive than the regular binder-filler paper but all of the holes are reinforced so you never have a problem losing papers that rip out.
- Sticky Notes: A not-so-secret tip is to always carry sticky notes with you. They are incredibly handy!
- Printable Goal Planner: In addition to having a student planner, using a goal planner to make sure you are chasing after your dreams and meeting your goals throughout school is just as important! Check out my goal planner here.
- Highlighters: This might sound nerdy but… these highlighters are AMAZING! They come in a ton of colors, have two different tips to them (fine and thick) and are not as bright as traditional highlighters, so they make your notes look WAY nicer.
- Colorful Pens: You can’t start school without a new set of colorful pens. I always go through different pen phases, but this pen pack is one I am currently loving!
- Pen Case: Need a cute place to organize all your pens? Check out this cute, yet functional pen case. Honestly, pen cases are the secret to successful back to school organization.
- Thumb Drive: You never know when you are going to need a thumb drive. Might as well grab one now before you forget.
- Desk Organizer: Making a nice study space at home is incredibly important. This desk organizer makes it SO easy to make that happen!
- Backpack: Finally, you absolutely NEED a backpack. I have had this one for over 8 years now and it still is holding strong! It is the perfect mix between function and cuteness. If I had to go back, I would probably get the black one (goes with more outfits). But when it’s time for me to get another, I’ll probably get this same one, I just love it so much!
22 Game-Changing Back to School Organization Hacks
Alright, let’s get into the back to school organization tips, shall we?
1. Organize and Setup a Planner
My number 1 tip for back to school organization is to find that perfect student planner (this is the one, I promise) and set it up for the upcoming school year. Here are the steps I recommend:
- Fill out your monthly calendar page with important deadlines, events, and projects.
- Don’t forget to add your school and registrar’s calendar to your planner. Be sure you know the big days, such as first and last day of school, holidays, major events, registration deadlines, etc.
- If you have them, add your syllabus to your planner as well! Be sure to create your own planning system, but I recommend starting with the following: exam and major deadlines onto your monthly calendar, specific assignment deadlines onto your weekly calendar pages, and plan out days when you need to begin studying for exams.
- Fill out any important student worksheet pages within your planner to make sure you are ready for any and all major events, projects, etc. Some great student worksheets I fill out every year (which can be found in my printable planner) before the semester starts include grade trackers, project planners, and course information reference sheets.
More details about my student printable planner can be found here! (Perfect for both high school and college students!)
2. Create a Foolproof Planning Routine
I can’t stress this enough: planning routines are the key to productivity. I mean it! It is easy to get distracted and forget to write things down. But if you take 5 minutes at the end of the day to plan tomorrow, you can ensure you will be successful! So, I highly recommend you create a simple planning routine and complete it every day! Interested in learning more about daily planning routines? Check out mine here.
3. Setup a School Binder
Next, creating an organized school binder is the perfect way to keep all of your notes, worksheets, homework assignments, planner pages, and entire school life all organized in one place. Some of my top binder organzition tips include:
- Utilize the front pocket as an inbox
- Create a planning section just after a sturdy cover page
- Section off each class using color-coded dividers
- Sub-divide class material using sub-dividers
- Create removable bookmarks
- Read more about how to successfully organize your binder here
4. Create a Sticky Note Dashboard
Another great binder tip is to create a sticky note dashboard. I personally have mind just on the other side of my binder cover page so I can easily grab a sticky note whenever I need it. Super simple, but SOOO useful.
5. Print off Useful Student Worksheets
Like I’ve mentioned, student worksheets can be incredibly helpful throughout the school year. I highly recommend you track down (or create) some that you will find useful and print them off so they are ready to go whenever you need them.
I offer a ton of different options in my Etsy Shop. All of my student worksheets are included in my Ultimate Student Planner, but you can also find smaller bundles such as the University Planning Bundle, Back to School Preparation Bundle and Ultimate Student Worksheet Bundle. Some of my favorite student worksheets to have on hand include:
- Semester Preparation Checklist
- Essay Planner and Worksheet
- Class Project Planning Dashboard
- Assignment Tracker
- Grade Tracker
- Section Review Worksheet
- Scholarship Application Planner
- FREE Study Printable Planner
- FREE Project Printable Planner
- FREE Monthly Budget Printable
6. Create a Useful Color Coding System
Pull out that planner again and add a color-coding key. This will help you easily organize all of your tasks, assignments, deadlines, events, and more. You can use these colors in many ways. Personally, I color code each class and simply write the name of the assignment in the given color, instead of having to write down the name of the class each time. Here is an example:
- Red = Urgent Tasks
- Pink = Personal Tasks
- Orange = Work Tasks
- Yellow = Class 1
- Green = Class 2
- Blue = Class 3
- Purple = Class 4
Tip: If you have a lot of classes or need more colors, use pastel colors for all of your classes and dark colors for other areas in your life.
Another idea is to use different colors to represent the amount of time it will take you to complete each task. Here is an example:
- Pink = Over 2 hours
- Orange = 1.5 – 2 hours
- Yellow = 1 – 1.5 hours
- Green = 45 minutes to an hour
- Blue = 15 – 45 minutes
- Purple = Less than 15 minutes
7. Write Up Your Goals
Next, create your goals for this semester. Make sure each of them are S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-Bound). Then post them in multiple places, to ensure you see them every day! Also be sure to turn each of these goals into tasks or habits you can track, to ensure you meet them.
Some school-related goals you might consider include:
- Study for 15 hours for each exam this semester
- Join a new club and attend at least 5 meetings this year
- End the school year with a 4.0 GPA
- Apply to 4 different internships that begin next summer
8. Clean Out Your School Supplies Stash and Order New Supplies
Next, take some time and go through all of your current school supplies. Toss any pens and highlighters that no longer write, get rid of dried glue, old notebooks that only have one page left, and anything else you no longer need. Then, make a list of anything you need to replace or might need this year and purchase it.
9. Organize Your Desk
Time to clean! Create a clutter-free work space somewhere in your home. This could be in your bedroom, a spare room, office, or anywhere you know will be quiet. Be sure that it is NOT on the couch or on your bed! This is a space where you will work, and ONLY work. (This is the key!!) Once you find this pace, be sure to do the following:
- Declutter and clean the entire space
- Make it cozy! Add some twinkle lights, candles (flameless or real) or even a few photos
- Add a desk organizer or drawer organizers, then add all of the supplies you might need so you don’t have to run around looking for anything when it’s time to study
10. Create an Physical Inbox
At your study space, be sure to add a physical “Inbox.” This could be a drawer or paper tray. Then be sure to add to your weekly to do list “process inbox.” This will help you create a functional paper organizing system. Here, you can drop in unread mail, future homework assignments, graded exams, and anything else you will need to look at before it is put away.
11. Create a Healthy Morning Routine
Next, sit down and write out how you want your mornings to go everyday. Use your goal list as a starting point. This will help you turn your goals into habits! For example, perhaps you have a goal of becoming healthier. Mornings are a great time to get a workout in or drink a healthy smoothie.
12. Create a Productive After-School Routine
Similarly, creating a productive after-school routine is just as important! Again, you can turn to your goals as a starting point. But also be sure to remember your priorities (homework, studying, extra-curricular events, work, etc.) and to carve out time for self care.
13. Organize Your School Bag
Next, be sure to take some time and organize your school bag. This includes completing a deep clean (yes, you might even need soap and water!) and making sure it is filled with everything you might need while at school. Don’t forget to pack of the 21 backpack essentials!
Tip: If you don’t have many pockets in your backpack, think about grabbing a backpack organizer. They are usually a great price and SUPER useful for bags with little pockets.
14. Setup a Large House Calendar
In addition to having a planner, it can often be useful to have a house calendar in a public space in your home that everyone can use a reference. Or you could set up a digital calendar that everyone in your house can access and edit. Here, be sure to have everyone add things like trips, important events, exam dates (so they know you need to be studying), and other dates that might impact daily life.
These are great to have with roommates or family members. For example, your roommate might have a pet that you need to take care of while they are away, or a family member might have a big concert that you should attend.
Personally, my husband and I use a large house calendar for all of our graduate student events, travel dates, date night reservations, and social events. This way, we always know where each other is and when.
15. Organize Your Computer
Next, it is time to organize your digital life! I highly suggest completing the following steps to ensure your computer is ready for a new school year.
- Delete any old documents, files, videos, etc. that are taking up space on your hard drive. These might be old assignments, research documents, etc. Tip: Save any old assignments, labs, exams, etc. that you might need for reference in another class.
- Backup your computer using an external hard drive. This might save you in the future. (Mine has saved me three times now!)
- Clean off your desktop and move any files you have on there into a folder within your computer, so you start on a blank slate.
- Create a new folder with this school year as the title
- Create a two subfolders, one for each semester
- Finally, create a final set of folders within each semester, one for each class
16. Create a Time-Blocking Calendar
Another great back to school organization tip is to create a time-block calendar for yourself. This is a weekly schedule you create for yourself around your classes and extra curricular activities to help you find time for studying, homework, and all your other responsibilities. I go more into time blocking and other great tips in my time management post.
17. Reorganize and Declutter Your Home
Take some time out of your day to declutter your home. Be sure clean out your closet, bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, and other places you frequently spend time in.
18. Clean out Your Email
Also be sure to clean out your email. Really take the time to go through each email and either trash it, save it in a folder for reference, or complete any unresolved task associated with it. Better now then when you’re knee-deep in school!
19. Clean Your Phone Inside and Out
Now is also the perfect time to clean your phone, both physically and internally. Take your phone out of the case and give it a good scrub (those things can get DIRTY!). This is also a great time to order a new phone case, charger, headphones, or anything you might need while on campus.
Also be sure to take some time and clean out old Apps you no longer use, old photos and videos taking up space, and any other files you no longer need or use.
20. Refresh Your Backgrounds
Speaking of your phone and computer, take a few minutes to find some fun new backgrounds for both devices! This always helps me transition into a new school year.
21. Read an Productivity Book
Keep up your productivity and momentum by picking up a new productivity book. This will help you stay motivated as the school year continues! I personally love listening to productivity and organizational books on my drive to class (using Audible, I LOVE IT). Here are my top books on productivity and organization I HIGHLY recommend:
- Getting Things Done by David Allen
- Manage Your Day-to-Day by 99U
- Atomic Habits by James Clear
- The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
22. Get Inspired!
Finally, get even more inspired by checking out other motivational blog posts and videos on back to school organization and productivity. HERE is my own personal list of blog posts all related to school to start you off.
BONUS: Top 5 Things to Do Before School Starts
As a bonus, here are the top 5 things you need to do (besides getting organized) before you start school!
- Purchase a parking pass
- Craft a vision board
- Print and read through all of your new syllabi
- Create a master assignment list
- Skim the first chapter of your textbooks
- Check out the 18 other tasks to compete before the semester starts here
Looking for some more great back to school organization and related content? Check out these great posts:
- Back to School Guide College Edition
- Everything You Need To Do Before a Successful Semester
- 63 Study Tips that will Skyrocket your GPA
- Backpack Essentials: Everything You NEED to have with you at school
- The Ultimate College Packing List
And… that’s a wrap! I hope you found this post insightful, helpful, and motivational. I had a ton of fun writing it. Good luck this coming school year. You will do great!
Ready to get even more organized? Check out my 15 Top Tips for an Organized Binder! Oh yeah, and don’t forget your FREE study printable!
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