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prime’s Guide to Zero Week: Getting Organized

By Alexandra Tashman

Sept. 30, 2014 9:22 a.m.

While the first week of classes can seem like a breeze compared to midterm season, starting the quarter off right and well-organized can be a true lifesaver when things start to get hectic.

Everyone’s new quarter resolution is to be more organized and not to procrastinate. Of course, this is easier said than done. Planners, calendars, chalkboards and corkboards can help you stay organized, but store-bought pieces are pricey and often neglected after the first few weeks. In order to make sure you start the quarter on the right foot, prime has some do-it-yourself guides to making sure you get and stay organized.

$2 Planner Hack



Plain Notebook



Sticky notes

Various crafting materials for decorating



Step 1: Begin with an empty notebook. Decorate the cover however you choose whatever makes you motivated and inspired to stay organized. We went with a combination of paint and washi tape to add some flair to the plain cover.


Step 2: Decide how you prefer to view your schedule. Some planners organize the year monthly followed by weekly schedule planning pages. We decided to go with weekly schedules interrupted by monthly views so that major events are clearly visible.


Step 3: For the weekly planner, both horizontal and vertical layouts work well. We used a horizontal layout to maximize space so that it’s easy to write down multiple lists for each day. This way, it’s easier to separate an appointment schedule from a to-do list on the same day. We also labeled each week in terms of the quarter, so you’ll always know how far ahead midterms and finals are.

Step 4: Add various-sized sticky notes and labels. For easy reference, use flags to mark each month or quarter.


Step 5: Add some extra sticky notes and labels on the front or back cover and stick a pen in the spiral for a completely portable organization unit.

Step 6: Finally, write in some important events and meetings to get started, and make it a point to write in it regularly.


  • For a cheap notebook, check out the stationary aisle of Daiso Japan, the $1.50 store on Sawtelle.

  • To make sure you stay on track, write out all major assignments and exams at the beginning of the quarter and write out your daily to-do list at a regular time, at the beginning or end of the day.

Message Board/Corkboard




Frame of any size

Paint (in any color)





Newspaper (to protect your furniture from paint and a good way to recycle all your old copies of the Daily Bruin)


Step 1: Take the frame apart, separating the backboard and glass. For this version, the glass can be recycled.

Step 2: Paint the frame any color you like and allow ample time to dry.

Step 3: Measure the burlap to the size of the glass and cut three identical strips. Staple all three to the cardboard back of the frame.

Step 4: Once the frame is dry, attach the burlap and backboard back to the frame.

Step 5: Voilà! You’re ready to pin pictures and notes to your heart’s content.

Miniature Chalkboard



Frame of any size

Acrylic paint (in any color)

Chalkboard paint


Newspaper (to protect your furniture from paint)

Step 1: Take the frame apart, removing the glass.

Step 2: Paint the frame any color, and give it time to dry on the newspaper.

Step 3: Paint the glass with chalkboard paint of any color. (Black and green work best.)

Step 4: Two to three coats will supply the best outcome, so repeat step 3.

Step 5: Once both the frame and painted glass are dry, reattach the two components.

Step 6: Hang above your desk, or prop it up for an easy way to write out reminders and notes.

Whiteboard Calendar



Frame of any size

Paint (in any color)

Printed or hand-drawn calendar (on paper the same size as the frame)

Whiteboard marker

Newspaper (to protect your furniture from paint)

Step 1: Take the frame apart, separating the glass and the back from the frame itself.

Step 2: Paint the frame with any colors you like, and give it time to dry.

Step 3: Print or draw a monthly calendar that is the same size as the frame’s glass.

Step 4: Once the frame is dry, reinsert the glass and your new calendar.

Step 5: Use a whiteboard marker to write crucial events, helping you stay on top of your schedule.

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Alexandra Tashman
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