Less stress, more success: organization can improve lives, say advisors and students

by Christopher Nickel/Special to The Simpsonian

Academic advisors and students agree that college students can be more successful and less stressed if they plan better and are more organized.

Kara May, assistant director of the Hawley Academic Resource & Advising Center at Simpson College, said organization is an important skill to learn in life.  College can be a stressful and busy time.  With chaos surrounding everyones lives, organization needs to occur to combat the worries and frustrations students face.

Kiley Murray, sophomore economics and religion major at Simpson, said organization and planning “definitely relieves stress.”

May said creating schedules is important in keeping track of what needs to get done.   “I think if you don’t have a schedule, if you don’t have some type of organizational skills you absolutely will not be as successful as you could be,” May said.

Organization is not always simple and straight forward.  No correct way to plan and organize exists or will work for everyone.  Each student needs to find the best solution for their lives, Murray said. 

Murray said it is important to write everything down in one place so students know where to look for reminders.  “I leave sticky notes everywhere,” Murray said. 

Creating to-do lists can be helpful.  Murray said students should always have a to-do list.  To-do lists allow students to keep track of what is necessary to accomplish and can provide satisfaction of completing tasks by checking off assignments after completed. 

Professors and other staff members can be helpful to students in accomplishing personal goals and becoming/staying organized.  Patricia Estell, a senior chemistry major at Simpson, said to utilize professors.  Most professors are willing to assist students in staying ahead, catching up or helping students become more successful.

Professors have been students, so they are good resources to go to for advice.  Everyone needs to find their own organizational method that works for them.  Different professors would have different methods and ideas that they would be willing to share that might work for others.

The Hawley Academic Resource & Advising Center is a helpful resource for all students.  They offer services and assistance in academic skills.  The Hawley Center has sessions available in time management, text book reading, note taking and test taking strategies.  There are many essential skills that can help you succeed in your classes. Academic skills sessions are available in time management, text book reading, note taking and test taking strategies.

“You have to be organized right from the beginning,” Estell said.  If organization does not occur right from the start, it is easy to fall behind.  Estell now completes her assignments right after they are assigned so she is not overwhelmed, falling behind or forgetting an assignment.

Hannah D’Hondt, a sophomore biology and Spanish major at Simpson, said, “even if you feel like you’re way behind, you’re not.  You can find ways to catch back up and use things to restart your process.” 

D’Hondt said, “I really like having a check-off list.”  With a check-off list, D’Hondt is able to make sure she gets all of her assignments done.  Seeing all she has completed at the end of the day is rewarding.  Creating a system of rewards is beneficial in relieving stress and making work more enjoyable.

Being disorganized is not the end of the world.  Murray said, “It takes time to become organized.”  Becoming organized is a process, it does not just happen overnight.

Murray said, “Just because I organize the way that I do and it works for me doesn’t mean if I sat you down with three planners and twelve hours of time and made you do things and made you go to bed at 2 a.m. and wake up at 7, like that probably wouldn’t work for you.” 

Some sort of planning is important to make everyone’s life run more smoothly.  May said everyone needs to “figure out what tools work for you.”  “The more you can figure those things our while you’re in school, the more successful you can be in your career or later in life,” May said. 

“The one big problem that students have is not knowing what you need to do when you need to do it,” May said.  Once there is a system in place for keeping track of what to do it is important to keep checking in on a list to not forget any assignment or responsibility. 

No matter what system students use, it is important to create ways to reduce stress.  Creating and maintaining a schedule will help in achieving success and can reduce the stress school work creates.