Create the Perfect School Organization System with Google Drive + Printable Guide

Google Drive is often described as one of the best collaboration tools, and it is often used in working for group projects and assignments or to facilitate communication in study groups.

But do you know that you can also utilize it for your own study organization?

I’ve used Google Drive as my main storage and organization system ever since I am in college, and I can proudly tell you that:

  • I have never lost a file that I need with this system; and
  • I can easily search for things that I need.

Want to know how you can utilize your Google Drive to not only help you get organized but also to work and study efficiently? Keep reading and you’ll know!

In this article, I will cover the following:

Nothing is sponsored is this post, and both Google Drive and Documents 5 are apps that I have used for a long time and I really want to recommend to you, not to mention they are all free!

Frustrated by how messy your digital files are? Here are some Google Drive organization hacks and app recommendations for high school and college students! Make sure to also download the printable guide and take a look at the 7-day action plan!


Why You Should Use Google Drive

A lot of people may start storing all their folders on their laptop and they don’t see the problem of it.

I have been doing that for three months since my start of my college, but then I found out that

  • I am having great difficulties in accessing my files when I forgot to bring my laptop to school
  • I find it incredibly annoying that I have to bring my USB whenever I have to transfer a file to others or do a presentation in class
  • Since we need to do group projects at school, there are some assignment files that are on the Drive and I have to access them separately

Knowing these problems, I decide to make a switch and put everything into my Google Drive so that everything in one place?

The best part of it? I can easily edit and access the files whenever I am. I can just log into my Google account through my school’s computer and print the documents I need, or I can access my presentation PowerPoint in the classroom without having to go through the hassle of retrieving my file using my USB.


How to make use of Google Drive?

Okay, so Google Drive is awesome. We get it. But how can we use it wisely?

Now, here’s the thing. There are probably some functions of Google Drive that you may have never known about, so in this article, on top of just me sharing you my own organization system, I am also letting you know more about how you can use these functions well.

Folder Structure

Folder structure means how you can organize your folders and documents better.

In my Drive, I break it down into:

  • School: I put everything related to my studying here
  • Work: I usually have one folder for each organization I work in
  • Personal: this includes all my cover letters, applications, CVs and professional photos (so that you can always send to them if you have to apply for something)
  • Resources: things I find helpful to my learning and development. This ranges from books on philosophy to interesting PDFs.

In my school folder, I further break it down into different semesters. (e.g. Semester IV)

In each folder for my course, I would usually have a folder for:

  • Lectures: every lecture materials (e.g. lecture slides, notes, reference materials) go into this folder.
  • Readings: I put all the reference readings and my reading notes here to put everything together.
  • Assignments: this has all the drafts of my assignments and essays.

And then, as you can see in my lectures folder, I have all the slides of each lecture in it.

The key here is to limit folder creation. Don’t make a lot of folders – that will only make everything all over the place. Limit the number of main folders in your Drive to around 5-8, and categorize everything you have within those folders. Having too many will do no good and may only frustrate you.

To do so, you will need to get used to thinking in hierarchies. Think about how each thing fits into the category, sub-categories, and sub-sub-categories. When you have to get a file, you will then think about which category it belongs to.

Color-code your folders

In my semester folder, you will see all my courses. You can color-code your courses to make it stick with the color code you use for each class on your binder or timetable. This helps me to make things very clear for me.

Add stars to your documents

Do you know that you can add stars to the documents/folders? I start them if you need to study them for that week so that I will have all the materials I need to study that week at one place.

So when you click the starred tab, here are all the things you have added stars to. Once you have finished reviewing them, you can remove stars from the document.

Edit the description of your documents

If you want to know what each document/class covers without viewing the whole document, you can edit the description of the document so that you can easily know what it is about.

Use Google Docs for collaboration!

I have briefly talked about Google Drive and Google Docs is best for group collaboration. But why’s that?

You can easily share a folder with your group mates, and in your folder, you can use slides and documents together.

  •  You can make edits together.
  • You can add comments to your own and others’ work for follow-up.
  • You can even chat in the document to talk with your group mates.

All your group mates will have access to all the documents, files, papers and slides and all the resources you need.

And since you are using Google Drive, you can just add that folder into your folder for that course’s assignment folder. That way, you can easily find what you need and it’s in the right place.


Download the Google Drive on Your Devices

I am sure a lot of you know about this already, but downloading Google Drive on your laptop is awesome! you can just access your files in the usual way – simply by going to your finder!

By adding and saving files to there just like how you used to, it automatically syncs to all your device. So the next time if you have to quickly glance through your paper before seeing your professor, you won’t have to pull out your laptop and search for the document again. Just use your phone to check your paper!


Sync Your Google Drive with Documents 5 to annotate and make edits on your iPhone and iPad

The tutorial doesn’t stop here! I want to introduce you another awesome free tool for you that comes really well with Google Drive! This is an excellent tool if you use your iPad or iPhone a lot, and you want to save time by reading or studying on a commute.

Documents 5 is a free app that can be used on both iPhone and iPad. It’s an awesome document viewer that allows you to highlight, strike-out and underline text within a PDF document.

This is especially useful for students who have tons of readings and assignments, and who want to read when they are on a commute. You can easily just view your study materials with Documents 5 and annotate them with your phone or tabloid.

I personally use an iPad mini with Documents 5, and I read almost all of my digital readings on iPad. Sometimes I even take notes on Documents 5.

One thing I absolutely love about Documents 5 is that it syncs with Google Drive (and many other cloud storage). So once you have made an edit, or once you have added a file to the folder on your laptop, the document and its edits appear in the app.

Let’s say you have a class that taught based on a literature or legislation, and you have to annotate on it during class. You can easily do it on your iPad by writing on it. If you have to cross reference it on your laptop, you can just access the file there and you will see the updates immediately.

How convenient is that?


Need some help to reorganize your Google Drive Folder? Get this PDF tutorial!

I have made a PDF tutorial to help you implement the strategies I just talked to you about. This PDF tutorial would summarize everything I mentioned (with screenshots) so that you can go through them step-by-step.

If you are serious about taking your life to the next level and enhance your study skills, productivity, and organization strategies, make sure to sign up now and get access to our ST Resource Library + Join our ST Success weekly challenge that is going to provide you with tutorials and actionable challenges every week!

Frustrated by how messy your digital files are? Here are some Google Drive organization hacks and app recommendations for high school and college students! Make sure to also download the printable guide and take a look at the 7-day action plan!



  • This is great! As someone who is a writing-intensive double-major, I have definitely had a lot of success using Google Docs! At the beginning of my college career it was definitely a bit disorganized, but color coding definitely helped me keep all of my documents in plain sight! :) A study tip that I discovered today as well is using the Kindle for Mac app to annotate and to highlight key passages. It helps with my eye strain and is very portable! I can also copy and paste important quotes into documents to save them for potential essay topics (something I normally do with sticky notes in hardcopy books). Thank you for all of these great resources!
    • Hi Alyssa, your tip is great! I actually don't use Kindle for Mac very often, but I use Preview to annotate and highlight my readings. I will take a look at the Kindle for Mac app soon!
  • Abigail
    Do you know how to use dropbox for organization? some of my teachers use it to share study materials but I only download everything from there and I feel that I am missing something that it could be useful.
    • Hi Abigail, I currently use Google Drive for basically all of my things and I never really use Dropbox, but in your case I believe it's more convenient to use what I have talked about on Dropbox instead. I will try to look into it and perhaps write a post on it in the coming two months! x
  • Theo
    Isn't Evernote as good as Google Drive?
    • Hi Theo, I'd say that they serve different functions. Evernote is mainly for taking notes, and I love having it as a way to organize my notes on work and blogging. On the other hand, Google Drive is mainly for organizing folders and all different types of files, so it's more like a cloud storage.

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