6 secrets to a successful semester

Image created with Canva. Photo credit: Jordan Lewis

Back to school season has come and gone, and now, we are already in our second week of classes. We all know what that means: cramming in last-minute homework, pushing deadlines and pulling lots of all-nighters. But, it does not have to be that way. There is no rule saying that college has to be extra stressful, or at least more stressful due to lack of preparation and organization.

So, let’s start the school year off on the right foot. Because, let’s face it, we all need a little help. Here are six tips for staying organized and motivated this school year.

1. Know your campus resources

It can be hard to get back into the school groove after summer break. Luckily, there are plenty of resources on campus to help us ease into the school year. From the Counseling Center to the Richter Library to peer tutoring, UM has us covered. Find out what works best for you, and use it to stay on track this school year.

2. Create a routine

Creating a somewhat consistent routine can help with organization— and keep you sane— when things start to get busy. Whether that means waking up at the same time every day or devoting specific time to self-care, it is helpful to be consistent in at least one aspect of life. Even something as small as making your bed can help alleviate unneeded stress; school can be stressful enough as it is.

3. Build good habits

Tweaking small habits can make a big difference in the long run. Keeping logs like “habit trackers” or “mood trackers” can help you see what your tendencies are and how you react to outside factors like stress. If you prefer not to manually track your habits, there are also plenty of apps that do the same thing. Once you figure out what works for you, make it permanent.

4. Set small, realistic goals

With the same routine every week, it can be easy to fall into a school slump. That’s why setting small, personal goals can help you stay motivated throughout the school year. From staying on top of homework to watching that one TV series you’ve had your eye on, setting personal goals keeps life interesting and motivates you with small victories.

5. Keep track of events

We have all had that one event we meant attend but entirely forgot about. Save yourself from the hassle of remembering dates and events by organizing them into a calendar. Whether that includes UM events or doctor’s appointments, it helps to keep everything in one place. Apps like Google Calendar are great, but do not be afraid use the old-fashioned, pen-and-paper method if that’s what you prefer. What matters is being able to visualize everything you have going on.

6. Have a “dump book”

No, the title isn’t what it seems. A “dump book” is essentially a notebook where you keep everything— yes, everything. Doodles, rants, late-night song lyrics, illegible scribbles, you name it. It feels good knowing you have a place to keep all of your thoughts, with no one to judge you for what you wrote. Keeping a “dump book” or something similar can be great for cathartic release, especially as classes get harder, exams get closer and deadlines get tighter. Whatever you decide, do what’s best for you, and do what you enjoy.