A planner filled with multicolored notes. Finding a good organizational system is helpful for staying on top of work. Illustration by Alyson Sutherland.

As we begin our new semester, it may be a good time to rethink your organizational systems. It is a great time to set new goals about staying on top of your work. If you are looking for ways to improve your organization, finding the right tools is very important. While some people find success with a paper planner, I have personally found that digital solutions work better. Here is a suggestion of a workflow that I have found helpful.

When used correctly, the online learning application Canvas can become a very useful tool. In addition to showing assignments, Canvas actually has a built in to-do system. This to-do system works alongside the Canvas assignments from your classes. It makes it significantly easier to record your assignments when most of them have been added for you. I found it useful when setting my own deadlines, or adding assignments when my teachers don’t. To use it, first switch to the list view on your Canvas dashboard. Next use the plus button at the top to add your additional custom to-do items.

If you want more control, and just some nice checkboxes, there are many notes app options. If you have an iPhone, there is a checkbox feature in the Notes app that works great. If you don’t have an iPhone, Google Keep is another alternative that has the bonus of being available on your Chromebook as well. There is something extremely satisfying about seeing your work checked off as you go.

After trying out a variety of techniques, I found that a mix of the above tools worked the best. I use Canvas to track assignments as a whole, and then a notes app to write out a plan for each day. Having a daily plan helped me break down bigger assignments, making my work less overwhelming. I also found it helpful to physically type out this daily plan, as it gave me a better understanding of what I have to do.

Although everyone has different preferences on how to stay organized, I hope you find these suggestions helpful. In the long run, you will greatly benefit from spending some time figuring out the system that works best for you.