Being a grad student in the social sciences, the sheer amount of paper I accumulate – even just over the span of a month – is stupid. From administrative-type documents to drafts of essays to articles, pages and pages and pages of paper fill rows of 2-inch binders. Literally, rows. It freaks me out. Now, before we get all high and mighty about what a big tree-killer I am, I assure you, I only print out what I absolutely have to – and yes, this still amounts to many binders-full.
So anyway, what I have yet failed to mention is that all of this material, while tucked neatly away in binders, is completely disorganized. I have no idea where anything is. And with summer school looming, I need to clean it up and get it together! So today I have decided to share with you my adventures in organizing – boring but necessary.
Behold! One of many piles of paper. I smudged out the text so that you don’t accidentally read it and immediately fall asleep on your keyboard. You’re welcome!
Step 1 I made a list. I separated all my information into Categories (Binders) and Sub-Categories (Tabs that will go in the Binders). It’s like an organizational cheat sheet.
Step 2 I wrote out my sub-categories on post-it notes that have cats on them. Don’t worry, any post-it notes/scraps of paper will work. I laid them out on my floor and then went through article-by-article, essay-by-essay, and put them in their appropriate category. If they didn’t fit into a category, I made a new one! So much freedom…
Tip: It’s a good idea to count how many binders and binder tabs you have before you do this and categorize accordingly. I ended up having to put loner documents together as “Other” so that I wouldn’t have to go buy more tabs.
Step 3 Once everything was categorized, I wrote out my category titles on the tabs for my binder dividers. You can also print your titles on these tabs if you are extra fancy, but it is much faster to just write them. At least for me. Again, I have smudged out my titles for your health. All I do is give. I’m here for the people.
Step 4 Insert your tab labels into your tabs, and start loading up that binder with all of your very interesting documents. Look at that organization! ‘Tis a thing of beauty. I used some blue-coloured tabs for ultra-special documents. Colour coding is not necessary, but some people swear by it. Mostly it confuses me. White. Blue. Blah. Simplification is where it’s at!
Step 5 Recycle! This is my recycle pile once the dirty deed was done. Good bye old documents! Go become recycled paper cups: it is your destiny.
And that is how I organized my binders for school. Trust me, it was more painful for me that it was for you. I hope you maybe even picked up a tip or two! Do you have any organization tips? Share them!