With working two jobs and going to school (currently 9 credit hours) things get hectic. With those thing I also have to take care of my 2 year-old dog, see my boyfriend from time to time, get to the gym, sleep, and all the other things that go with being alive and busy. Here are the 8 key tips I use to keep a busy schedule organized.
1. Print Outs: Now this one takes a little premeditation but only about once every 12 weeks. This is a big one for me in stay on track for the day. It’s easy to say what you’re going to do during the day, but to actually plan out the times you’re going to them holds you much more accountable.
The website for my go to print outs is: http://theorganisedstudent.tumblr.com/printables.
I am a sucker for the weekly planner with the fill in your own hours on the side. The print outs give me an idea of my week and my days broken down (example picture of one of my weeks). A huge plus for me is the color coordination. I don’t expect everyone to be as neurotic as me with the colors but it helps things stick out in my mind better. I use the same color for the same “activity” every week when I make my schedule, that way I can glance at my print out and know that I work Saturday 12-6. I print out about 12 at a time and keep them in my binder so I have them with me at all times during the work week.
2. Planner/Goals: The obvious to staying organized is a planner. I bought mine for like $9 at Target and it is a fix for me know. I use a Sugar Paper brand because it gives me enough space to fill in the days and nice note paper in the back for my grocery list. I love filling things into my planner, and even more so I love crossing things off! I start the new month off by going to the page with the whole month on it and write in big important dates that take up the whole day. Examples of this are people’s birthdays, vacations, concerts, this page is more of the exciting things that I don’t have to “do” that day. Then I go though the weekly pages and write in days I have assignments due, bills that get paid, vet appointments for Ivy or doctor appointments for me, and odd days I work that aren’t routine for me.
This helps me plan ahead for things that are far in advance like vacations that I’ll need to do some kind of preparation for, or reminding me to get birthday cards out in the mail early enough. I had a roommate in college who wouldn’t go to sleep without crossing everything off in her planner for that day- now I’m not that bad but I do feel guilty if I don’t get everything done I planned on doing that day. Also this makes it easier to know if and when I can fit in “fun activities” like visiting my friends over the weekend or a concert because I have the month written down before hand.
3.Email: My email is like an embarrassing conversation I have with myself on a regular basis. If I’m in a situation that I can’t look something up or print the information out, I email it to myself. That way I have the information on my phone when I go to check my email later that day, mainly including hyperlinks that I need to look at again. I also email my professors, often, all the time actually. Because I go to OSU and it’s huge, it’s hard to schedule and make office hours. I email my teacher to remember to change tests time, assignment due dates, etc. Also all my bills are set up through email and I “star” or favorite them when they come in so I know they get “unstarred” and deleted once that specific bill is paid. My email is like my online planner and it typically is me just talking to myself about things I need to remember and won’t.
4. Plan Day:
In order to get all these crazy things ready to go, I take one day a week to plan ahead. This day for me is Thursdays, it’s my day off from the hospital and the day I can fully grasp everything that is coming the next week starting on Monday. For me I consider my week Monday-Sunday and plan from there. This day I write a list out of all upcoming things, I fill in my print outs, update my planner, and make all my contacts. I contact the dog walker, the doctor (if necessary), the vet (again if necessary), and anyone I would hope to hear back from before the day next week. That way if I can’t get in touch with someone or need further clarification on details I have Friday still to do so.
5. Errand Day:
I try to make this Saturday. The day I take all my lists and put them to work. I try to run all my errands on the same day: grocery shopping, post office, gas station, etc. Obviously this is always doable but if you try to plan ahead it can be. With having it all on one day I avoid wasting gas and making impulse buys. If my lists are made (that I did on “Plan Day” Thursday) then Saturday is a breeze. I can run all my errands without driving in circles wasting time and gas by making a plan of where I’m going and what I need from each place. If you have the iPhone I highly recommend the “Reminders” app. I can make grocery lists on the fly and tell Siri to add stuff to it as my day goes on. It also has the ability to check them off, and if I don’t get something that specific trip it stays there until I check it off.
Being consistent about my schedule isn’t always plausible because both jobs I work the days and times vary. I can be consistent about when I plan my week and how I handle my time outside of my jobs. Now I would be lying if I said I was always 100% on my schedule and didn’t binge on Netflix on more than one occasion. I do try to hold myself accountable to getting things done though because 2 hours on a Thursday planning my week out saves me a lot of hassle the next week.
This is a given. With a busy schedule you have to be able to prioritize what needs done and at what time. Things will start to pile up if you slack one day you have twice as much to do the next. Now I am someone with a lot on my plate, but I’m also someone who needs a social life. Being social is something that effects me more than I thought. When I worked third shift for 10 months I rarely, if ever, saw my friends, missed holidays, and was unable do a lot of things I wanted because I worked every Friday- Monday night. This took a big impact on me emotionally and realized that I needed to make myself somewhat of a priority more than I was. Now I’m not saying call of work to go out with friends, but make balanced decisions. Look at the big picture of why you’re doing so much, an education, a promotion, buying a house, whatever it is. Make your decisions for the long term and realize that sacrifice comes with the territory of success. Also make sure you aren’t taking on so much your health is taking a big hit. Remember to eat healthy, hit the gym on occasion, and make time for sleep. It seems like a given but if you schedule too many things a good night’s sleep can be the gamble you make, which catches up to you faster than you’d think.
8. Be Realistic:
Understand your limits. Not everyone can do everything. Eventually you will have to say no, or cut back on something in your life. Be realistic with yourself. Don’t schedule yourself to go to the gym everyday at 5am if you aren’t going to bed until 2am. I know I am someone who is much more productive at night, therefor I do all my studying late, meal prep late, shower late. I don’t expect myself to be up before 8am because I normally go bed around 1-2am. I know everyone says “the early bird gets the worm” but you can hustle at night too. Don’t let morning people let you think you aren’t being productive because you sleep until 10, I’m up getting things done once they go to bed at 9pm. Just do what works for you and realize when enough is enough. Keep those goals in mind though and get after them.