Mid-Semester Organization: Tips and Tricks

Author: Autumn Dern

As we approach the end of October, I tend to get panicked. It’s the middle of the semester and my room is a mess, I’m behind on assignments and readings, and my laundry pile is starting to get ridiculous. This time of year is the perfect time to have a “Get Your Sh*t Together” Day (GYST day). This day can be spread out into multiple days, but I find that I feel most accomplished if I get everything I need to get done, done in one day. Here is my step-by-step process on GYST days and all of the tasks that you can do on your GYST day(s).


My Ideal GYST Day

After waking up fairly early, I start off by opening my blinds and windows if the weather is nice. I light a few candles to start making my living space smell great.


Strip the bed to wash sheets, pillowcases, and comforter along with towels and blankets that also need washing

I like to start off with laundry so that I can finish washing my clothes and linens before I start winding down for the day. I like to sleep in clean sheets and have a full closet at the end of a GYST day. It’s an incredibly satisfying feeling.


Rinse dishes and load up the dishwasher

While the laundry is going, I like to get started on my housework beginning with dishes. I can’t clean the surfaces of my kitchen or my appliances until my countertops are clear. Getting the dishes clean early is simple, but makes a difference!


Clean all surfaces and appliances

Now that the counters are clear, I like to go in every room and begin by wiping off each surface, then going back and sanitizing each surface. This makes everything feel much cleaner and I feel better with sanitized surfaces.


Vacuum and sweep floors

Time to clean the floors! I vacuum all of the floors in my apartment. Even on hard flooring, vacuuming gets the larger debris and makes sweeping much easier.


Clean mirrors and bathroom

If you don’t clean your bathroom regularly, you need to start. Clean the inside and outside of your toilet, inside and outside of your bath and/or shower, mop or vacuum floors, dust lights, and clean mirrors. Since I have an electric toothbrush, I end up getting a plethora of toothpaste/water spatter all over my mirror, so I need to clean my bathroom mirror more frequently than most people. But I suggest you clean your bathroom once a week to maintain cleanliness.


Start with the homework or studying that you are dreading the most

Some people think that you need to start with the easiest tasks first and then move on to more difficult tasks. However, I find that I am most productive if I begin with the tasks that I find the most annoying or daunting. If I can conquer at least one task I’m dreading, I feel a sense of accomplishment, even if I don’t complete anything else.


Make sure to take productive breaks

You may ask, “Autumn, how is a break an actual break if I’m being productive?” Well, options for productive breaks include, but are not limited to: take 15 minutes to meditate and reset your mind, go for a quick walk to get moving, make a quick snack that’s actually good for you, read a book or listen to an audiobook for pleasure rather than a pesky textbook, find inspirational Pinterest posts or photos on WeHeartIt to keep your spirits up, etc. These breaks can give you a mental rest without being a waste of time. But, you definitely need to make sure you are actually giving yourself breaks. My perfect ratio is to work non-stop for 45 minutes, then take a 15 minute break. Play around with the ratio and find your most productive lengths of time.


Take care of yourself

Just because you are cleaning your living environment and getting homework done, doesn’t mean you should ignore your physical health and personal cleanliness. I know that when I get overwhelmed, I tend to skip or prolong things that I should be doing like washing my hair, shaving my legs/armpits, and taking care of my skin. However, these days are the perfect opportunity to catch up on those. Take a long, detailed shower, shave everything you want to shave, paint your nails, do a face mask, wash your makeup brushes, and moisturize everything. Also, drink water…your brain, body, and skin will thank you.


Plan for future weeks

When your GYST day is coming to a close and you’re worried that you’re going to fall behind if you don’t stay on top of things, don’t fret. Outline what homework, studying, exams, events, meetings, etc. that will be happening in the next 2-3 weeks so you can get an idea of what the weeks to come will look like. Make sure to also plan future GYST days because they should also become a welcomed part of your schedule!


This is how I tend to organize myself on GYST days, which works great for me. However, I understand that my way isn’t the only way. Feel free to personalize which tasks seem the most important for you to get done at that time and stick with it. If you need ideas of other tasks that you could include in your GYST plan, consider these:


  • Go through your closet and get rid of everything you don’t wear or don’t feel great in
  • Reorganize your desk/closet/drawers/etc.
  • Set goals for the rest of the semester, for the week, or for the next year of your life
  • Make a grocery list
  • Meal prep for the rest of the week
  • Take out your trash and recycling
  • Make a vision or dream board to inspire you for the rest of the month
  • Deep clean your fridge
  • Put away seasonal items (decor, clothing, accessories, etc.)


Happy GYST-ing!

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