Organizing My School Work

December 27, 2005

Given that I am just starting my journey through library school, I don’t yet have a great organization scheme for my work. I have been giving this topic quite a bit of thought for the past couple of weeks. I figured that I really should try and get some type of organization in place before the start of next semester (my next class starts on January 29th). Imagine my delight when Joy (at Wanderings of a Student Librarian) posted her thoughts and ideas about organizing school work in a post in her blog this week.

Joy has some great ideas. I love the fact that she uses accordian files to keep track of material from individual classes. After my first class, I put all of my material into file folders: one folder for the syllabus and class information, one for class readings, one for readings that I used for research, one for my assignments, one for assignments from other students and one for study material. However, an accordian file would allow me to keep everything from one class together. I think I will be running out to get some accordian files.

Rather than shelves, I have (in the past) used boxes to store my files. I am thinking that one shelf near my computer for the material from my current class would be a great idea. Maybe this would help me to keep all of my material together. I do remember several times during the fall semester when I had to tear my house apart for the last week’s information.

Rebecca Hedreen (from Frequently Answered Questions) pointed out to Joy that backing up one’s files is also a critical part of keeping track of school work. I agree that backups are a critical part of any organizational scheme. Given that my classes are all online, everything that I have done is in electronic format with copies backed up on several computers. Additionally, I have put good portions of my work on this blog – which is backed up by another source. Of course, I also have several paper copies of everything.

There are a couple of additional things that I have done to organize my school work. One thing I do is keep a running bibliography of all class readings – required ones and all additional readings that I have discovered during my research. I keep a Refworks account with these citations. This comes in handy to check to see if I have already read a particular article – and if I have a hard copy of the article. RefWorks citations are fully searchable by author and title. I have already been able to avoid printing an article twice several times. I keep all of my articles in alphabetical order in file folders. My Refworks folders match the physical folders that I keep – hopefully to allow for quick retrieval.

Additionally, I try to write brief summations of all the articles that I read for a class. This brief summation is invaluable when I thumb through my articles to find any that may be helpful for an assignment. I have started to do this for articles that I read in my professional life as well. The one drawback to this scheme is that I keep all of this material in hard copy – and the amount of space it takes up will grow rapidly.

Ultimately, I am impressed with Joy’s level of organization – and maybe even a bit jealous. Fortunately, her post has reinvigorated my quest to get everything organized before I start my next class.