Let’s just say it how it is: college is hectic and it’s almost impossible sometimes to get organized and stay that way.
At least, that’s how it definitely feels. I’ve been at the point where I look at my syllabus and realize that I have 3 assignments due in one week and I haven’t done laundry in almost a month and don’t even get started on exercise…
Then, last year, something happened. I just decided to stop. I decided to stop running myself into the ground because I was burning myself out, and I got more organized. And although I definitely still felt stress, there is something about knowing what you’re facing that adds some peace to your life, and I want to share that with you.
So here are the ten things that I did to get organized.
1. Categorize all of your errands and due dates
There’s a reason I want you to do this first, and we’ll talk about that in number two. For me, these categories are school, blog, social, home/personal, and fun. Some of these criss-cross, of course (sometimes I meet up with other blogging friends who live here in Ottawa so those two overlap, for instance) but just think about the gist of all the categories of things you do on a weekly basis.
2. Figure out how many things you can handle at one time
Personally, looking at a calendar with all 5 of those categories is overwhelming. For that reason, I split up my categories into different planners. I have a blogging binder for everything blog-related, including my blog post ideas and my editorial calendar, and then I have an agenda for all of the other categories! This works for me–when I want to do school, I put my blogging stuff completely away and just focus on school, and vice versa.
3. Find an agenda that can help you get organized
This is different for everyone, depending on your needs. My mom, for instance, is a speaker and blogger who goes on tour quite a bit and is married to a man who is constantly on call for work. For that reason, they need an online calendar that automatically syncs to the other person’s phone, and they swear by google calendars for that.
Last year, I used the apple calendar since you can create individual calendars and then hide ones you don’t want to see right then and there (this helps with point number 2). However, I learned halfway through last semester that I really like having the paper planner and switched back just before exam season. This year, since I’m blogging now and am trying to reduce screen time to compensate, I’m using a paper planner for both blogging and school.
Then of course, you need to find which planner works if you go the paper route. I highly recommend one with big boxes for days every week so that if you have a particularly crazy week or have to scratch something out you’ve still got lots of wiggle room!
4. Make enough food at dinner for left overs the next day
For me, whenever I am in the middle of school food is the first thing I neglect, which really isn’t good since staying healthy is important. The way I’ve found to combat this is just to make doubles every night. I’m pretty good for making dinner, so whenever I do I just make extra and then bring it as lunch the next day! The crazy thing is that bringing left overs, even if it’s a great meal like shepherds pie, is usually actually cheaper than a sandwich with lunch meats! This has saved me so much time it’s not even funny.
5. Once a month cook in bulk
Every now and then, though, I really do struggle in the cooking category completely. We’re talking cereal for breakfast, lunch and dinner sometimes.
What helps with this is just taking one Sunday afternoon a month and making two big batches of something and freezing them in individual containers. My favourites are lasagna, sweet potato & green apple soup, chili, burritos, and shepherds pie, but you can do it for all sorts of things! This way, if you don’t have the energy or time to cook dinner you’ve just got to throw something in the microwave and 5 minutes later you’ve got a nutritious meal. Plus, most recipes make 6 servings, so that means that you have 3 meals a week that month that you don’t have to think about!
6. Get rid of any excess you have
It’s easier to be organized when you have less to keep organized. For me, this was getting rid of my 5000 office supplies. No one needs 4 hole punchers or 58 half-used pencils. So I started bringing extra pencils to school and just giving them to whoever had forgotten one that day and they disappeared pretty quickly. Now I just have my favourite pens and supplies and keep a few of each in my backpack and my messenger bag so that no matter which one I use I have the supplies I need. No more.
Same with clothes! I’m trying to make a capsule wardrobe for myself this year (post coming soon on that) and I’ve already found that having fewer clothes has kept my bedroom so much cleaner and made laundry 10x easier.
I dare you: look around your apartment/house and find 11 things right now that you don’t need! They can be little, but find them and put them by the door so that next time you head out you can give them away or throw them out!
7. Make yourself a chores list
When you make a chores list you’ll be surprised by how little there actually is to do every week. In general, chores should never take more than an hour a week if you’re keeping the place clean during the week. Making a list for myself has helped me feel so much less overwhelmed by all of the seemingly mountains of chores I had to get done and made it much more manageable.
Then, after you make the list of everything you have to get done, prioritize. I have 5 chores that absolutely have to get done no matter what: clean bathroom toilet and sink, vacuum, tidy the bedroom, do laundry, and wash the dishes. If I don’t have very much time, as long as I get all of those done, I’m OK with leaving the dusting and the polishing and wiping down the windows until later. This is especially a good idea if you live with roommates.
8.Empty your backpack every day
This was a huge one for me. I have a scarily clean backpack. No wrappers, no receipts, nothing. Just exactly what I need in it, and there’s a reason for that.
I find that I feel more professional, more on top of things, and more motivated–no matter how far behind I am in actuality–if my bag is organized. When I first decided to get organized last year this was the first thing to change for me and I have never looked back. What I used to do was just throw my backpack in the closet and pick it up again the next morning when I went to school. Now, though, the first thing I do is empty the bag onto the bed, put away whatever I’m not going to need the next day, throw out the garbage, file away papers, and then put everything else I’ll need the next day back in the backpack. This helps you get ready for the next day before it even starts and makes sure that you don’t make your bag turn into a garbage can.
9. If you really want to get organized, learn to say no
At the end of the day, you can only organize so much within 24 hours of time, no matter how efficient you are. You need to take ahold of your schedule and make some priorities! Yes, it would be lovely if you could volunteer with that kids’ camp on Saturdays but if you’re already working a part time job while in school it’s probably not feasible.
You don’t need to go to every movie night. You don’t need to be a part of every study group. Prioritize! What’s helped me do this is I have a maximum number of nights I’m allowed out of the house a week (5 for me since I’m extroverted). Then if I’ve already over-booked myself it’s easier to say “no”.
10. Schedule in time for peace
You will always feel overwhelmed and overrun by things to do if you don’t give yourself time to catch up and just veg. Student life is fun, yes, but it’s very draining. Not taking the time to recuperate from the stressful week isn’t helping you any, so take some time and take care of yourself.
I take a bubble bath every Saturday, do a face mask, and read a book for an hour. That alone is enough for me to feel recuperated after the craziness of the week. Try it and let me know if it works for you!
Staying organized doesn’t have to be difficult. Yes, it can be hard to get organized, but once you put in the time to learn how to manage your time and find tips and tricks to make that easier, you’ll see that it’s not bad at all.
What are some tips you would add? Do you use any of these?
Want to stay connected? You can find me at all of the places below:
Want more posts like this? Follow me on bloglovin’ to get all of my posts as soon as they’re up!