Monday, September 8, 2014

Life Management Binder for the College Student

Real talk for a moment: college is hard. It is nothing like high school and it's hard. College with ADHD is a whole new level of challenging. It feels paralyzingly impossible at first. My first semester I was handed a syllabus for all six of my classes. With the reading and assignments for the whole semester. That I have to keep track of in that planner I never opened past the first week in September. And I have to read 450 pages a night. In an environment with 50 other people around. all. the. time. It took dropping out, coming back, getting on medication and serious dedication to actually feel like I wasn't drowning.

It's a learning curve and it takes a lot of patience to find what works for you. One significant change I made was in the way of organization. Sometimes I felt so terribly dumb and behind because I learned differently and struggled to stay organized. There is NOTHING wrong with taking charge of your education even if it is in a different manner than that of your peers. 

On Pinterest I kept coming across "home management binders" and thought "college kids need this". After searching and searching I couldn't find one so I made my own. In this post I will give an outline of what I did to organize the important things in my life. I will include the printables in the future.

My binder has:

-A cute title page
-Tabs and sticky notes
-Class Schedule
-Textbook rentals
-Shopping List
-Meal planning
-Bank Account Information
-A folder insert for important documents

First, I made a pretty front page so I would actually want to open it.
Flawless, I know.

I have tabs and sticky notes I use to mark/note anything throughout the binder. (Note: I ended up using these less than I thought I would. I realized later they were more for show ;) 

I also keep a master list of my class schedule in my binder. The first few weeks of the semester it's helpful to have the class times, room numbers and professors names. I also keep their e-mail/office hours written down here so it's easy to reference. 

I rent my textbooks and I frequently forget where they're from and when to return them. I have learned the hard way that the "late fee" is not a joke. I keep this list of my rented books and when they're due so at the end of the semester I am not scrambling to return them. 

This is the first year I don't have a meal plan so grocery shopping and cooking is all new to me. However, I generally eat the same things on a daily basis. I wrote out a general shopping list to have so I can plan ahead for cost, where to shop, etc. 

Every Sunday I take the time to plan our my meals so I know what to buy or the ensure I won't be making any last minute stops for food. 

I have multiple bank accounts and I lose track of things easily so it is helpful for me to have all of this information in one place.

I have a pocket to keep all of my important things. I have my check books, my passport, my passport pictures, my social security card. I also have two envelopes one for my checks and cash to go into my account and one for tips from work. 

My organizational system is ALWAYS changing but this is how I keep my most important documents and information straight. Other management binders might include a calendar, a planner or an assignment list. I have a very specific calendar system that I may share in the future- so I don't keep that in my binder. 

How do you you stay organized? How do you manage ADHD in college?  


  1. Emily, I like the idea of doing a binder versus a regular planner. I don't know if I could do it just because I like to take mine with me everywhere I go and I already binders and notebooks to carry around.

    I did see that you struggled a little in the beginning with school and being able to stay on top of things I also had my ups and downs with school in the beginning. I found that a couple different things helped including getting myself to a better place that I needed to be in especially mentally. I also really loved a this book called Your Guide to College Success by John Hantrock. It was amazing & really helped me and it even gives great inspiration for blog posts for us student bloggers. I'll have a review coming up soon about this book if you would like me to let you know when I post it I can or you can just check the book out it's on for less than $10 (book and shipping). Keep up the great work :)


  2. when you click the above "name" it doesn't take you to the correct site which is why I included the URL at the bottom of the comment

    :) Thanks again for the post!


  3. You should not be keeping all of your personal information in one place like this, if you somehow lost your binder and it got into some bad hands then you could very easily have your identity stolen, you have totally prepared a "Steal my Identity Right Now" Kit. Your cover page is very appropriately named "Life" because it contains the keys to your entire life. You should not carry around your SS card (or even the number) with you everywhere and certainly should not write your bank account numbers, debit card numbers, and PIN codes on the same sheet of paper (or at all!) If someone wanted to, they could cancel your debit cards (and credit cards if you have any) and have your bank send new ones to whatever address they want. They also could, if they also get your wallet, drain your bank accounts at the ATM.
    You really need to be careful with the amount of your personal information you carry around with you. :)

    1. I appreciate your input and what you said totally makes sense but this binder never leaves my house, or at the time I made it my apartment. Since I was away from home at school I made a binder that's keeps all of my stuff in one spot- which is under lock and key in my house, dorm or apartment!

  4. This is awesome and I'm absolutely going to utilize this idea! It was pretty obvious to me that it's not something that you carry around and that it is something that stays in one safe private place in your home. I already have something like this to organize bills and such. Great idea and thank you for sharing!

    1. So glad you find this helpful. I've definitely modified it some over the past year but I still find it super useful!!! Let me know how it works for you- I'd love to see your version! Thank you for your comment!

  5. I loved this post ! it was really inspiring, because I also have ADHD and ADD so college plus that can be very stressful. I loved the binder idea. I have already lost one book and the fee is almost 2 x wanted I rented it for, it would have been cheaper just to buy the book.

    1. Thank you for your kind comment! It is definitely not easy, but college with ADHD is possible! I did not think I was capable but now I will be graduating in the spring. If you ever have any questions or need any advice, do not hesitate to contact me- my social media information is on my contact page.