How I Stay Organized on a Busy Schedule
I've talked about it multiple times this semester, but I'm currently working on a really busy schedule. It's totally my choice, and a love everything I'm a part of, but oftentimes I wonder why how I'm not drowning. Recently many of y'all have been messaging me about my agenda, my organization tactics, and just how I stay on track in general. If there's one thing I'm really good at, it's staying organized. I've always been one to write lists, keep an agenda, and mark on my calendar.
I'm taking 16 credit hours this semester, have a part time job, am in a sorority, a member of the club tennis team, and am a tour guide. Yes, thats a lot of things to have a hand in at school, but it's so manageable if you do it correctly. If anything, I hope this post encourages you to be more active in your school community because when you're organized and manage your time well, you can do everything you want to do.
Time Management -- Time management is the main thing you have to hone in on if you want to fit everything into your schedule. After taking three classes a day, having a shift at work, and a meeting or two, it seems like your day is gone. You need to utilize that hour in between classes, and work into late nights if necessary. In between classes, I have around an hour of time. An hour doesn't seem like much but if I have three classes, that's several hours I can use to write my blog post, or edit a paper. Using up every ounce of free time during the day is key to cutting down your workload at night. It's tougher for me to get things done at night, because once the sun sets it's time for dinner, a shower, and bed in my eyes, so working on homework past 10:30 is a struggle for me. Squeeze every drop out of work time during the day, so at night you can unwind.
Rank Your Tasks -- One of the ways I'm efficient with my school work is by ranking my tasks from most important to least important. One factor that comes into play when I rank my work is time constraint. If something takes under 15 minutes whether it be reading through a rough draft of a paper to make edits, making my bed, emptying the dish washer, or taking a 10 minute quiz, those typically go towards the bottom of the list as far as importance goes. If I can do something quickly, I tend to do them first. Get them out of the way. It's a ways of decluttering your agenda so you can focus all your energy on that 20 page paper you have due (aka me🙋🏼♀️ right now!). Take the time to list out what you have to do, but also determine what's the least and most important tasks on your agenda. If you do this, you'll also feel like you've accomplished a lot which increases productivity.
5 Minute Rule -- This goes similarly with ranking your tasks. Go by the five minute rule, meaning if you can do something in five minutes do it right away. This means clean your dinner dishes, make your bed, clean your room, take that bag of trash out, print your paper, or email your professor back. Again, this is a great way to declutter your to-do list. I started doing this about a month ago and it's drastically improved my productivity. It's helped me keep in better communication with companies and professors alike, but also keep my apartment cleaner and my school life more organized.
Buy an Agenda -- The key to keeping everything in harmony with one another is my agenda. I don't go anywhere without it -- it keeps my entire life together. I've found that I like writing out both my schedule and my to do list in the same spot. This keeps me on track with my meetings, classes, work schedule, and my homework. I can also map out my blog topics, brainstorming, meals, and grocery list in one place. I loved using my Erin Condren hourly planner first semester but that takes sticker paper, which I don't have with me at school. When I get more, I'll switch back to it. Currently, I'm using an agenda from Target that I had laying around which includes monthly and weekly spreads along with lined paper so I can write down my blog and internship brainstorming.
Color Coding -- I found that color coding has also helped me visualize my week. I'll keep each class in a different color so I can quickly see what I need to get done with which class. At a glance, I can see that my April is packed with work for my writing theories class, but there's no work in American history so I know where to focus my energy on. The trick is to test out which kind of agenda you like best. If your schedule is the same all week, maybe you just need to write down your to-do lists or maybe you need to bullet journal, rather than keep an agenda. Test the waters and see which method is most effective for you. These are my favorite pens for color coding!
Wall Calendar -- I purchased this gold framed white board calendar back in January and it's drastically improved my planning for the better. This summer, I'll buy a second one so I can keep a two month blog and internship calendar on my wall. I like that I can see everything in one spot while working at my computer, but I can also change things around. Calendars are always changing with appointment cancellations or last minute conference calls, so it's nice to be able to quickly add or remove things. I think by adding another one to my wall will help me better plan blog campaigns and help maintain my travel schedule for this summer with my internship.
Digital Calendar -- In class, teachers just reel off dates like it's no big deal. All of my classes operate on a computer so I use my MacBook calendar to write down quick dates and then add them into my calendar. Another thing I love about a digital calendar is that you can share it with people. This past summer, my sister, my mom, and I shared a calendar with my sister and I's work schedules. Lisa and I share a car and if we're going to work at different locations, my mom could see who would take the shared car and who would have to take either her or my dad's car. Lisa worked an internship and waitressed last summer, and I waitressed and worked at Lilly Pulitzer so between us both having two jobs, we never really saw much of each other. A digital calendar was a great way to stay on the same page without having to physically track each other down. This is a proactive way to avoid bumps down the road if you're working with multiple people when it comes to your schedule.
Say NO -- If you want to be busy, but also get all of your work done you have to know when to say no and you have to know your limits. This is crucial when it comes to keeping a busy schedule. Odds are, if you're this busy, you like to please people. I would definitely categorize myself as a people pleaser, so I tend to say yes to a lot of the time. Saying no is too important for your mental and physical health, and it's something you just have to get used to. If you're busy on a particular Wednesday, it's okay to say no to a meeting or dinner with a friend. On Wednesdays, I have a meeting that offers meeting minutes and a meeting quiz if you can't attend, it takes five minutes to go through everything (hello, five minute rule), and saves me about an hour and a half on hump days. I would love to go sit in this meeting, I have two other meetings on Wednesdays that I hold a position in that I cannot skip, so something needed to be resolved with a compromise -- this was a perfect one. Understand your limits, know what can be dropped if need be, learn to make sacrifices if necessary. It's okay to skip something or not take on a new project, you're not letting the world down.
Don't Be Afraid to Walk Away -- If you're busy and notice that some things just aren't getting the attention they need, it's proving a few things. First, it's proving that you're more passionate about others things. Second, it shows that something in your routine isn't working or maybe you've taken on too much. We've all been there, but it's up to you to make a change. Whether you pump the breaks on one project to take care of one that's lacking, or you walk away from something completely, make sure you're able to recognize when it's time to change. I've learned that if you aren't committing to something fully from the get go, you aren't passionate enough about it to keep contributing half way. If this is the case for you, don't be afraid to walk away. It can be a scary thing to potentially walk away from something you worked really hard to accomplish whether it be a job, a team, a club, or a service. Just know, there are other people who might want what you're not committing to -- give them the chance to take on that position 100% if you feel like you can't.
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