Organized and accountable: tips for staying on top of assignments as an intern

Being an intern is a lot of work. Being a full-time intern while finishing up your college degree online is even more work. After about a month of the trapeze act I currently call my life, I’ve picked up a few tips and tricks on how to stay organized during your internship (or throughout life in general).

  1. Find a good planner. Each person is different, so everyone uses planners in different ways for different things. For example, I don’t have a lot of time-sensitive meetings or due dates, so I look for a planner that has a monthly and daily spread. I’ll write important assignments, events, birthdays or trips down on the monthly spread and use the daily ones for everyday tasks or homework assignments. To keep myself even more organized, I use different colored pens for different tasks. This allows me to glance at my planner and know when something due is based solely on the color.
  2. Always carry a notebook and pen. This ensures you’re able to take notes during meetings, write down assignment details and look back at what you’ve accomplished. Personally, it’s easier for me to complete a task if I know exactly what I’m supposed to do. I also learn more efficiently if I write it down.
  3. Communicate. Confused? Ask questions. Swamped with assignments? Let your team know. It’s important to convey your workload to your team members. This keeps you from feeling overwhelmed or potentially sitting there with little to do. 
  4. Prioritize. Some days you’ll have a lighter workload, but there will be other days when you have five assignments due. Figure out which tasks are most important and work to get those done. Personally, I feel sharper in the morning (due to lots of coffee), so I try to complete assignments that are due that day as early as possible. This allows me to be more easy-going in the afternoon and complete assignments that are due in a few weeks.
  5. Silence your phone or turn off notifications. Since we’ve become so connected to cell phones and social media, I won’t tell you to completely turn your phone off, but I will tell you to silence it. is more distracting than working on a project and hearing your phone buzz. You instantly begin to wonder who it could be and what they said. Turn off vibrations, flip it over and only check it in short increments throughout the day.
  6. Listen to music. This infographic breaks down what happens to your brain when you listen to music while working. I have a work-specific playlist that’s extremely relaxing and full of songs I’m familiar with. The task I’m working on determines whether or not I can listen to music. For example, if I’m writing a news release or drafting an email, it’s easier for me to concentrate with silence.
  7. Take breaks. Tasks will seem overwhelming if you think you have to get them all done in one sitting. Get up from your desk and walk around. Do some stretches. Play HQ Trivia with your coworkers. Always remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day.