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20 Back-to-School Essentials to Stay Organized This School Year

acrylic hanging monthly wall calendar

Sure, every school year comes with its own set of unique challenges. But embracing a few organization strategies can go a long way to help prepare you for the unexpected and those long, busy days. Whether you’re taking a full semester of classes or a night class a few times a week, here are 20 key essentials to keep you on track and to help set you up for success in the academic year to come. 

Make your upcoming goals and plans visible

Refillable Organizer Notebook

Someone once said it’s not real until you write it and make it visible (research actually supports the notion that you’ll likelier to achieve your goals if you write them down in detail). Keep track of your assignments and progress in a visible way with this refillable and durable organizer notebook. At the end of each year, simply refill the pages (the organizer takes size A5) and you’re set for next year too. The cover is made of vegan leather with an elegant daffodil print, and featuring secure button closure. The refillable ring binder comes with tabbed dividers, three card slots, a slip pocket, a button pocket, a pen holder, cord keeper and more. 

NOTA A5 Refillable Organizer Notebook, Ivory, Indigo, $27.

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Acrylic hanging weekly wall calendar

Another way to keep yourself and your goals, assignments, appointments, and meetings on-track is this hanging wall weekly calendar. See in a snapshot what your upcoming week looks like, and identify pockets of time to tackle your to-do’s in an organized and efficient way, while maintaining a clean, minimalist aesthetic (with goldish-brass accents). The wall calendar comes with one black and one white wet erase marker.

russell+hazel Acrylic Weekly Hanging Wall Calendar, Indigo, $45.


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Acrylic hanging monthly wall calendar

The monthly version of the previous calendar, see the bigger picture and your upcoming month with this hanging acrylic wall calendar. It features a printed monthly layout and comes with two wet erase markers. The calendar is 24 inches wide and 24 inches tall and can be affixed with drywall anchors and screws. You can also add up to five acrylic wall accessories to customize the calendar to your specific needs. 

russell+hazel Acrylic Monthly Wall Calendar, Amazon, $109.

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Set up a large space for your vision board

Bulyzer grid wire panel board

Part of setting goals and keeping organized is knowing where you’re going. For many, a critical part of that process is identifying what inspires them. One way to do this is via a vision board. Keep the items, images and mementos in one spot that not only serves function but easily doubles as dorm décor. This gold-tone grid-wire panel board is sturdy and won’t rust (just secure it with nails if you plan to hang heavier items). Additionally, not only will it help you hone your vision, but it will also clear any desk clutter by providing you with a vertical space to hang items that may otherwise take up precious desk space.

BULYZER Grid Wire Panel Board, Amazon, $34.

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Umbra hangit photo frame

Hang your inspirations in a slightly different way with Umbra’s Hangit Photo Frame (conveniently, it comes in a two-pack if you prefer to share with your roomie, or you can create two smaller or one larger display). Mount it vertically or horizontally. The frame comes with 40 removable mini clothespins and five twine cords.

Umbra Hangit Photo Frame, 2-pack, Amazon, $37.


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Don’t forget desk organizers

OUI x BIGSO Box of Sweden Elisa Desktop Organizer in plum

Like that age-old adage, “everything in its right place and a place for everything,” create an easy, accessible home for all your desk essentials so you can avoid simply stashing things anywhere (and everywhere). Beautifully designed in a variety of eye-catching colours, this desktop organizer features seven compartments to hold notebooks, letters or folders and spaces in the front will keep your notes, pencils and knick-knacks within reach. It’s made with sustainable FSC-certified paper, too.

OUI x Bigso Box of Sweden Elisa Desktop Organizer in Plum, Indigo, $19.

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Garden Party Tackle Box

If you’re a tactile person, who prefers to do their studying and notetaking in hard copy, this Garden Party Tackle Box has many useful items you need to stay organized in addition to providing some window dressing to a potentially bland desk space. The box comes with pencils, push pins, binder clips, magnets, a tear-off notepad and an eraser.  

Rifle Paper Co. Garden Party Tackle Box, Indigo, $35.

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OUI x BIGSO Elliot Drawer Organizer

If you have a drawer, you’re likely familiar with how easily it can become a catch-all for random items that also need some proper sorting. This drawer organizer is one way to do this, so all your back-to-school essentials are easily within reach, and easy to put away, with designated spots – everything from pens, paperclips and more. Like some of the other items on this list, the organizer is made with FSC certified paper. 

OUI x BIGSO Elliot Drawer Organizer in Charcoal, Indigo, $19.


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Metal magazine vinyl rack

If you’re still dealing with a lot of paper in your life or have magazines to stack (we won’t judge), you’ll need a good way to keep them sorted. This Magazine and Vinyl rack is one simple and functional way to do that.

Block Design Metal Magazine & Vinyl Rack in Pink, Indigo, $50.

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Start with the stationary

Large multi compartment pouch in lilac

Keep all your writing utensils in one easy-to-reach spot with this pretty lilac multi-compartment pencil pouch with soft pink, floral lining and gold accents. Made with sustainability in mind, it will help keep your everyday back-to-school basics in one place. 

NOTA Large Multi Compartment Pencil Pouch in Lilac, Indigo, $14.

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10 soft touch gel pens

These pens are not only super cute, but help you jot things down comfortably. They feature a soft, smooth matte barrel and a retractable tip so they won’t stain your bag. The set comes with blue and black ink and also work well for journaling, list-making and more. 

NOTA Soft Touch Pens, Set of 10, Indigo, $14.

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zebra multipack highlighters

A study or research essential for any student, highlighters are a must. This particular 10-pack of double-ended highlighters comes in beautiful soft tones, and a fine point tip perfect for any doodling, marking up texts or hand-lettering. The non-toxic ink is water-resistant, translucent and excellent for layering. Want to kick up your organization skills a notch? Colour-code your text for easy reference down the road (trust us: organizing your information in this way will pay off dividends down the road when you’re quickly scanning text).

Zebra Midliner Highlighter Assorted 10-pack, Indigo, $20.


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NOTA sticky note tabs

Set up an efficient tabbing system to help you identify critical passages and more and to zero in on where to turn the page. The tabs come in different colours with each tab offering enough space to write down what you’re linking to.

NOTA Multicolour Sticky Note Tabs, Indigo, $5.

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NOTA coptic tab notebook

Need a spot to put your thoughts down or to jot down any important notes? Or maybe it’s to journal. This is another option with a tabbing system to help you marry your creativity with function. The tabs separate four paper types: ruled, dotted, plain and lined grids. The binding provides a flat writing surface and the paper is FSC certified. 

NOTA Coptic Tab Notebook, Indigo, $8.

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Label everything

Cricut joy label making bundle
Cricut Canada

Personalize, organize and customize your items for easy recognition and retrieval with Cricut’s Joy smart cutting and writing machine + Label Making Bundle. Not only can you put your intention into action, but this versatile smart space-saving sibling to Cricut Maker 3 can also create custom vinyl decals for your bottles, vision boards, room decor, special occasion cards and more. Organize your life in a way that feels authentic and personal to you.  

Cricut Joy Label Making Bundle, Cricut Canada, $230.

Reach for reliable tech to keep you (and your assignments) on-track

Samsung Galaxy Book2 Pro Touchscreen 2-in-1 laptop
Best Buy

If you plan to keep things digital, keep a handle on your day-to-day tasks and learning with Samsun Book2 Pro 360 15.6 inch touchscreen laptop. This 2-in-1 focuses on fast performance, with 2.1GHz 12th Gen Intel Evo i7-1260P processor and 16GB of RAM. It comes with the brand’s S-Pen for all your digital note-taking needs, and to help you execute your creative projects (see prior note on Cricut, above).

Samsung Galaxy Book2 Pro 360 15.6″ Touchscreen 2-in-1 Laptop, Best Buy, $1,750.


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iPad Pro with Pencil
Apple Canada

For those who prefer iOS, the iPad Pro offers the ultimate iPad experience. Choose from two sizes – 12.9 or 11 inches. It features Liquid Retina as well as ProMotion technology and 12MP wide and 10MP ultra wide back cameras. It works with the Apple pencil, magic keyboard and folio, but you’ll need to get those separately.  

iPad Pro, Apple Canada, from $939.

EPSON eco tank ET 2850 wireless all-in-one supertank inkjet printer
Best Buy

For any printing, copying or scanning needs, this multipurpose Epson EcoTANK All-in-One Cartridge-Free Supertank Printer will help make most of your (or your family’s) budget and space by helping you use every last drop of ink. Ninety per cent less expensive than traditional ink cartridges, the printer also offers multiple connectivity options (via Ethernet, wireless and USB). Wirelessly, you can also print jobs via Apple Airplay, Google Cloud Print, network printing, print via email and the Epson Smart Panel App – a handy option when you’re a busy student on-the-go.

Epson EcoTank ET-2850 Wireless Colour All-in-One Cartridge-Free Supertank Printer, Best Buy, $400.

Keep organized on-the-go

NOTA ultimate office pouch

This sweet office pouch means you won’t find yourself unprepared, no matter where your studies take you. The carry-all features an exterior pen loop (with a black elegant retractable ballpoint pen), two card slots, a slip pouch and a spacious interior with a zip closure to store all your necessities. 

NOTA Ultimate Office Pouch, Spring Flowers, Indigo, $17.

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NOTA magnetic bookmarks


Don’t fold those corners. Mark where you’ve stopped reading that textbook with this magnetic book trio, featuring three motivating reminders. 

NOTA Set of 3 Magnetic Bookmarks, Indigo, $4.

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All products featured on are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy through links in this article, we earn an affiliate commission.

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