Organize your backpack

Did you start out the school year with a nice, neat, color-coded binder, folders for every subject and great intentions about how organized you were going to be this year? Did you keep up with that system, or is your bookbag now in total disarray? With winter break coming to an end and a new year starting, now is the perfect time to get re-organized so you can tackle the rest of the year with ease.

Here are a few steps to get organized in both your physical and virtual worlds:

Step 1: Clean out your backpack
The first step in getting organized is to start at ground zero: your backpack. Dump everything out onto the floor, throw away any trash, and then go through all of the loose pieces of paper and put them into the folders where they belong. Next, replenish your notebook paper and pencils — just like you did on the first day of school — and return everything to your backpack so it’s nice and neat. Trust us, this will feel amazing! (Another tip: Try doing this once a week throughout the rest of the year to keep the bookbag from becoming a disaster area again).

Step 2: Clean your bedroom
If you do the majority of your homework in your bedroom, it’s important that it be a clean, inviting place where your important school papers won’t get swallowed up on your desk or on the floor. Take some time to go through your clothes, books and other knick-knacks and throw out whatever you don’t use on a regular basis. The cleaner your space, the more clearly you’ll be able to think. (Again, this is a great habit to get into at least once a week.)

Step 3: Go through your handouts
Right after final exams is usually a great time to sift through all of your handouts from the last semester. Typically, you should keep a folder for each class and put every handout your teacher distributes into that folder throughout the semester. Alternately, you can hole-punch each handout and put it into a binder where you have divider tabs separating sections for each class. What not to do? Tuck handouts inside a textbook or stuff them randomly into your backpack where they may never be seen again.

After each section or unit, move those handouts into a box or folder you keep at home so your binder doesn’t get too cluttered. Then, before final exams, go through your box at home so you have everything you need to study from the whole semester.

Step 4: Organize your Google Drive folders
Electronic files are just as important to keep organized as your physical files are. Shockingly, many people just throw documents onto their Google Drive with no organization at all, which ends up wasting tons of time when you’re trying to find something you need.

To keep your files organized, make sure to create one folder for each class, and then subfolders for different types of documents or assignments. You can even make each folder a different color so they all stand out easily. Just click on the file and in the dropdown menu, select “change color.”

Step 5: Give your documents specific names
Another way to keep your electronic files organized is to give your documents specific titles. Like it or not, you’re probably going to write many essays in English class each year. Naming them all “English essay” in your Google folder is not going to help you find things easily. Instead, use specific titles such as “Great Gatsby paper.” Google docs will keep track of your version history for you, but if you’re working in Microsoft Word, it’s helpful to put the date in each file name — and update it each time you save — so you know when you most recently worked on it.

Step 6: Set up reminders
Want to keep these good habits going? Put a reminder in your phone or assignment notebook to spend 15 minutes cleaning out your backpack or organizing your electronic files each week. And when the alert goes off, make sure to actually do it! A little bit of weekly maintenance will keep your mental and physical clutter to a minimum and make a huge difference in how calm you feel.

Do you have any other tips for how to keep yourself organized? Share them with us in the comments below!