Getting organized is the key to having a successful semester.  Here is a tip to help you.

Create a launch and landing space for each of your classes. This, of course, means that you are going to have to make room for such a thing…but this will give you some motivation.

If you teach 3 classes, you’ll need three spaces. These spaces need to be big enough for you to keep the textbooks, your course notes, materials you’re taking in to your next class, items that have been turned in (pile of papers or exams) or whatever else is related to this class. Generally, I found that one entire shelf was enough except for the courses I taught where their assignments or projects were very large – and then I needed more space.

The idea is that you clear off one shelf – or its equivalent – for each of your courses. Put everything there that always goes with you to that class and that may currently be scattered in various places around your office.

Then, each time you come in from that class, resist the urge to just plop things wherever. You may put it on your desk if you are immediately sorting out what goes where (for example, something that is going home with you to grade or that is going with you to your NEXT section of that class), but otherwise, put it right on “the shelf” for that class.

I did color code my classes to help ensure that I was grabbing the right stuff for the right class. When I had three classes, there was always a red, yellow, and blue class and when there was a fourth class, it was green. When it went beyond that, as it did a couple of times when I was an assistant professor, I had a teal class.

What was funny is that my students got to know what color the classes were even though I didn’t require them to make everything for the class that same color.  After a few years (my reputation preceded me), students would start asking – or they would comment – so, this is the red class, right?  Then they showed me their red notebooks or whatever.  And they told me it helped them. Who knew? I was only doing this for myself!!

So, make your landing and launch space…another key step in getting yourself organized this semester – and next!

To help you have a successful career, I have developed a step by step guide The Compendium of Productivity Tips for Professors with tips and ideas just like this one.  And it is available for immediate download.

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