By October, most of us have midterms splattered like bullet shots across our calendar. It’s a violent, yet universal truth. Now don’t get me wrong. I am very much a fan of the several weeks marked by transitioning colours that blend so perfectly into the backgrounds of our Instagram documentations of Pumpkin Spice Lattés. But this fine autumn month, sprinkled with midterms like the cinnamon atop your latté generally demands a heavy overhaul of organization systems. Gone are the days of taking apart your entire desk and piles of binders and notebooks before the eve of the midterm, because LifeStyle is going to get you as organized as you are in your dreams! (Just go with the flow in that you dream of organizing your desk.)

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First up, tackling the workspace. Everyone knows that clutter is a distraction. Suddenly that note you doodled on in last week’s lecture becomes a piece of art worth some serious contemplation. There is no time for philosophical and slightly narcissistic musings over your own doodle. Remove any and all clutter! A clean space is a clean mind, and a clean mind can stow away all of the lovely information you wish to keep there much more efficiently. You don’t have to necessarily purge yourself of all clutter, some may be worth a lot of money one day, but at the very least put it aside for the couple hours you’ve devoted to studying. Grab a basket or box and place it underneath your desk.

Currently, my textbooks, binders, and notebooks alike are in a dangerously high pile atop my printer. This is not an organization tip to abide by. In fact, you should avoid it all costs. If you were to follow in my future footsteps though, they would take you to the land of all things Swedish – IKEA. Several pieces are of minimal cost and worth crucial investment. I’m going out on a limb here saying that a magazine rack, or some shelving unit at all, is pretty much vital to your academic existence. Fortunately, staying on a budget is never an ordeal in IKEA, and we’ve even compiled a few must-see items for you on our tumblr.

Now that your desk appears less like a pigpen (no judgment here) and more like a high-powered CEO’s office (your Porsche is waiting outside), let’s get down to the mental business of eliminating your technically immortal enemy known as procrastination. A business cannot run smoothly without some concept of time, because how could you forget? Time is money, and time is precious. Without visualizing how many days left until that next midterm or assignment, it could be disturbingly easy to slip into the lackadaisical yet urgent state of catching up on (insert your weakness in terms of TV shows here). A day timer and calendar can be used to squash this temptation, especially if you colour code each test date in a colour that screams out, “URGENT” to you, like blood red or bellowing blue.

On the note of visualizing how much time you have left, make your goals and prizes just as eye-catching! If there is a post-midterm celebration requesting your attendance, draw yourself and your friends as a rowdy bunch of stickmen with joyously colourful letters saying, “FUN AWAITS.” Or a simplistic print out of a dessert you will soon devour.

Last but not least, the world of technology can be rewired into a palace of productivity. Apps are now your angels. The Ananke Timer will reveal your weaknesses – both the known and the unknown – in that it shows you just exactly how much time you spend on “Facebook breaks” after all. Secondly, there’s Stay Focused, which sets a time limit on certain websites before it blocks you for the day. Suddenly tumblr became a precious commodity to me. Lastly, the most cruel and twisted of all for any one who is deadly serious about stopping procrastination in its tracks: Write or Die. Essentially you can be on gentle mode, normal mode, or kamikaze mode, dependent on how serious you are. Gentle mode simply gives you sweet reminders if you stop writing. Normal mode ensures continuous writing with an alarm. Kamikaze mode will literally erase what you wrote if you choose to stop writing. A little masochistic for my liking, but everyone needs a little (correction: deathly) push, right?

Keep on studyin’ and keep on smilin’ (to the best of your ability).

Be sure to check out our tumblr for some sweet additions to organizing yo’ life (including some playlists to choose from to get the brainy juices flowing).

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