Let’s face it, life comes with a lot of to-do’s. We have work, school, a family to take care of, grocery shopping, bills to pay, taxes to do (eek!), and so much more.
It’s a hard knock life sometimes.
Then again, honestly, my version of a hard knock life is something I can’t complain about. After all, a lot of people have what I honestly deem a hard knock life.
Look at this video clip, and you’ll under stand I mean: https://youtu.be/8UBk8f7Bgj0
However, for those of us working full time and on top of that go to school to complete perquisites for applying to grad school (or even those who are in grad school, part time school, go to school and take care of a family), life requires a little bit of organization.
Coming from an incredibly high functioning high schooler where my schedule was pretty much organized by my parents for school and extracurricular activities, the transition through my college years was tough, because I had to learn the incredibly hard way, that I was responsible for my education, when I needed to study, work, do extracurricular activities, and have some downtime for fun and R&R. For me, this is a hard lesson, one that left me with some deep regrets, but also an opportunity to grow from it.
I learned how to organize my life to be a higher functioning multi-tasker. This is NOT to say that I’m great at what I do, however, over the years, I’ve learned how to study smarter, work harder, and work on things better. I’ve got a long way to go. Yet, these are some of the things that I’ve learned along the way.
- Calendaring — The older I get, the more I realized that a calendar is needed. I use to do the planner thing, but for me that didn’t work out. For some people, this is like their go-to for schedules. I personally like utilizing electronic calendars because they sync with other technological equipment you may have, and for me, it’s convenient. This is especially important at work, especially when I go through seasons of deadlines, meetings that come up in the last second, and so much more. So, calendars are very important for me. HOWEVER, I do admit, I keep paper monthly calendar at my desk, because I like having a full picture (not just the nitty gritty weekly details) for me to see what’s coming up.
- Post It’s — I’m a Post It hogger. I’ll admit, I love post-it notes, tabs, paper, etc. These are things that I’ve personally used over the years to help me organize paperwork, filing, homework, and so much more. I don’t know what I’d do without post its. NOW, here’s the THING — one must learn the art of organizing their post it’s. It’s not simply write something down and post. That’s exactly how people lose post-it’s, it’s how they forget about it OR even ignore what they’ve written down in the first place. Some people place it on their monitors as a reminder, some utilize a specfic area on their wall, some place it where they know they won’t forget, etc. For me, I’m a big believer or organized post-it’s on a white board or a simple picture frame like below. It’s not my own personal one, but a simple frame from a craft store, Ross, TJ Maxx, Goodwill, can be used as a perfect board to put post its, use a dry erase marker, and more. Make sure it’s a glass frame and not plastic, it’s easier to clean, and place your post its on.
3. Electronic post its — This is also a favorite of mine. For daily to-dos, I’m a fan of utilizing a system using a small notebook or a to-do notepad. For grocery lists, bills to pay, things to buy, wish lists, etc, I happen to like electronic post is. Some of my favorites, as well as many others are Google Keep, Wunderlist, IStudiez, and the original Post It app. You can definitely choose whichever version you like, so long as you stick to it. In fact, many of these different electronic apps and software can sync to electronic calendars. Another bonus when it comes to having an electronic calendar!
4. Planners — As a traditional go to, a lot of people love using planners. There are many out there. Some are monthly, weekly, even daily. To each their own! I think planners can be useful, and it’s something I’ve used over the years while I was in undergrad and grad school and working (yes, I worked while I was in college, and I worked while I was in grad school; I was in a part time grad program, so I was able to work). The thing is, one had to get into the habit of using a planner, and for me, SOMETIMES, my to-do’s don’t end up in my planner. This means…I forgot or dropped the ball on more than a few things….this sadly included…when my first deadline to turn in my graduate thesis paper was. >_< If you choose this route, let me just say, use it, don’t just have it. If you find using planners to be the way you get organized, then by all means, go for it! I tried the planner route, and it just wasn’t for me…it was easier for me to calendar and utilize post its for things as well as a notepad for to-dos.
5. To-Do notepads — For me, this is useful….I like seeing to-dos checked off or disappear. The picture frame or whiteboard thing works for me, especially at work, because I like the feeling of seeing my to-dos disappear. My list of to-dos at work range from 10-20 items per week (and these items, are no small feat; let me tell you!) When you’re on 9 different concentrations, where 3 of them have commonalities….and some, let just say are things that get added on your plate every so often, a to do list is VERY necessary. Now, what about dividing up work and school. For me, work is work, and IF I really do need to do “work” after hours, I often use the electronic post it option. For some people, to-do lists can become incredibly overwhelming. The minute they see the work, their minds become frozen and every what-if that can go wrong can enter their minds. My BEST advice to all you out there who get overwhelmed by these to-do lists, is 1) Break it down (start with the easiest, and go to the most difficult); 2) Utilize free print outs or ones that are to you liking (see below); 3) Set goals up each day that are feasible; if it’s work, set yourself up with a goal to accomplish 3 things in a certain amount of time (don’t just set a goal up to accomplish 3 things, set a time frame; trust me, you’ll be more efficient if you set something like that up), if it’s with school, same thing.
There are so many ways, to be organized, it can be overwhelming at times. I know looking on Pinterest, I can get overwhelmed on how to organize my life. I think the key, when it comes to work and school, is that one must make small goals. By simply answering the question — When will I study? and STICK to that schedule is one way to organize your life. I work full time, teach a pre-diabetes class for work on certain days of the week, mentor new lifestyle coaches, and do other things on the side, so finding time to study is a priority, let alone a challenge. I’m currently at a place in life where I don’t yet have a family to take care of, but I know this in itself can present a challenge. However, it’s do-able. After all, one equal thing about each person, is that we all have 24 hours in a day, how one manages their time to take in what is important to each can be done. For me, I allot at least 4 hours of studying on Mondays, Thursdays, Saturday, and at least 2 hours on Sundays to study. Call me crazy, and trust me, it feels like it at times, but as tired as I am, it works for me. The other days aren’t just for R&R…I’m actually doing different things on those days.
It took a lot of trial and error to figure out how to organize my life. Trust me, I am so NOT there yet when it comes to an organized and problem free life. However, who DOES have a problem free life where everything happens according to their schedule and time? Maybe a robot?
Thing is, utilize what’s out there for you when it comes to organization. Don’t simply do life without organizing it. Simple tools like a calendar, organized post-it usage, planners, and other tools can be of use, especially for individuals in school, work, and overall life. Again, some ways work better for others while others don’t.
What’s your way of organizing life? I’d love to hear from ya’ll, especially for those who are in school, working while also going to school, etc. 🙂
Happy weekend. Also, don’t forget to spring forward for all you Americans! It happens Sunday!