Tips and tricks to organize your semester

I know what it’s like. The first few days of the semester, you’re all hands on deck- assignments are written down, meetings are written down, readings are done the day of, you’re the perfect little student! But wait! What happens four weeks into the semester and you’re bored of school, classes and all the people in those classes? Are you writing your assignments down? Are you paying close attention to what time your meetings are? Are you running late to classes? NOPE.

Here are my tried and true tips on getting and staying organized during the semester!

  1. Buy a hanging 12 or 16 month calendar and hang it up somewhere you can see it. – Write the following dates in: First day of class, last day of class, cancelled classes, classes skipped, any days off, school breaks, date of exams and birthdays. While you’re working your ass off in the library this calendar will help you keep track of days and special events.
  2. Buy a full size planner and bring it with you everywhere. – In this calendar, write your day-to-day school schedule, cancelled classes, any classes skipped and now add your work schedule (if you have one). Also write down: all assignments (mandatory and recommended), required make-ups, meetings, study dates, dates of exams, birthdays and school breaks. This will be your bible. Don’t lose it and don’t forget it! Any class you go (or don’t), put it in the planner, along with any assignment completed. Remember this planner is more about your day-to-day life and keeping that organized.
  3. Use an expanding file folder. – Label all sections with your class names and in each section, place all handouts from class, including your syllabus. This way nothing gets lost or crumpled in the bottom of your backpack. Get copies of all your work (after grading, if you can) and any outlines that you are able to get from other students and also place them in the section.
  4. Take good notes during class! – Read and take notes on your own before class, this way during class you can pay more attention to what is being said, and less time frazzled about catching every little thing being said. This way, after class you can review the combined notes and have a thorough understanding of what the big picture was supposed to be.
  5. Use Sunday as your get shit done day– Take a few hours on Sunday to think about all the assignments you need to complete, meetings you need to go to, study groups that need to be organized and phone calls that need to take place. Write a master to do list and hang it somewhere. Be sure to check off the tasks that you complete! Also, pick out clothes for the next week and set them aside. No more stumbling around in the morning because you don’t know what to wear. Also, if you’re one who preps their meals for the week- today is the day to that, too!

Needless to say, these are all tips I’m going to be trying myself this semester. It’s so easy to get sucked into the pressures and stresses of the semester and let all organization go out the window. But not this semester! This semester is going to be kept organized and (almost!) pressure free!

Does anybody have any tried and true tricks for keeping themselves organized during the semester? Readers, how do you stay organized during the semester?

Topic for my next post: Meal prepping!


3 thoughts on “Tips and tricks to organize your semester

  1. Find a raw outline (a version where someone’s madly scribbling down what as said that hasn’t been consolidated for finals) for the class you’re taking. 2Ls, 3Ls, recent grads, the law library, or even copy centers hoping to make an extra buck may have these lying around. First verify that the outline is accurate. Then, read it in advance along with your daily reading. For me, nothing takes away the annoyance of Socratic Method like knowing both the question and the answer ahead of time.

    Caveat #1: Don’t let this replace the daily reading. The outline is only as good as the scribbler, who probably doesn’t think the same way you do.

    Caveat #2: Be careful of any recent cases or changes in law (reinforcing 1, above), as the outline might not cover those.

    Caveat #3: You’ll still have the annoyance of Socratic Method with any professor who likes to “explore issues,” “play devil’s advocate,” or otherwise try to knock you off the right answer. At least you’ll start off with a good guess as to what the right answer is.

    Find old exams (legally). Many professors are creatures of habit and recycle their materials and exam questions. Greenbriar may become Blackbriar and Plaintiff P may become Party A, but the IRAQ often remains the same. Surprisingly, some law libraries keeps old exams. Even more surprisingly, some law libraries keep old exam answers. Even if your school doesn’t have them, the professor’s previous school might. Failing all else, ask the professor, not just for the old exam, but to help you work through your answers after you’ve had time outline your answer (go through several drafts first). It’s an instant confidence booster to get an exam on exam day and recognize the question.

    Caveat #1: Be careful of any recent cases or changes in law. Some professors are tricky that way.

    Caveat #2: Be careful of substantive changes in the fact pattern. Some professors are tricky that way.

    DISCLAIMER: These worked for me, but everyone’s study habits vary and these might not work for you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. These are great tips! I was never one to use an outline while going through the class, it was much more beneficial to use it while studying for finals.

      I agree with using the old exams! Even if you don’t ask the prof for their advice with the answers, even being familiar with the set up of the exam will give you more comfort the day of the exam.


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