How to Stay Organized as an Online College Student

College student life can be tough! If you’re a part-time or full-time online student with other work or family obligations, it can be even tougher. According to U.S. News World Report, most college students in the U.S. are now over 25, so that means you’re not the only student who has a whole lot of life to juggle along with their school work.

So what can you do to stay organized while you’re pursuing an online college degree? We have a few common-sense suggestions that you can put into practice today to make your student experience even better.

1 – Merge your calendars

There’s a temptation to keep your academic calendar with test dates and due dates separate from your regular calendar, but that’s probably a mistake. You don’t want to schedule a big work meeting the same day you have a term paper due. And you don’t want to schedule your dinner party the same night you need to take a big test. Merge your personal, work, and school calendars so you can get a quick comprehensive look at your entire schedule and set up filters or tags for each separate part of your life if you want to look at them individually.

2 – Use the cloud

This is a big one. Use a cloud service to organize all of your schoolwork: papers, spreadsheets, image files, whatever. Try something free like Google Drive if your school doesn’t offer this sort of thing. That way you can look at, and even work on, your school projects wherever you are, whether from your laptop, your desktop at work, your phone, or even your iPad. You just open your document from the cloud and edit it there and then access it again from wherever life takes you next.

3 – Label specifics

This is one of those habits that, if you create it correctly, will eventually pay huge organization dividends. Start labeling all of your schoolwork using a system. You can decide the system, but we would recommend using a label for each class. For instance, if you’re writing a paper for your history class, start the file name with the label “HIST101” or whatever your class is, then add the name of the actual paper afterward. Another way to do it would be to use your professor’s name instead of the class. Anything that will keep all your coursework for one class easily searchable if something accidentally gets saved to the wrong folder.

4 – Get a list app

Sure, you’ve probably already got a list app in use, but just in case you don’t, this is a vital step! Get a list app so you can keep track of what you need to do for a particular day/week/month/assignment and each time you complete part of your list, check it off. This will help you in two ways: 1) everything you need to do is in a quickly accessible place for you to decide how best to organize your time and 2) it gives you a sense of accomplishment to slowly see those finished items checked off your list!