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Hi friends! It’s almost that time for school to start back (1 week for me!) and life to get hectic and busy again. I always feel like the fall semester is so much busier than the spring. Is that just me?? With football games, and the start of a new school year, and Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas back to back to back, I always feel like the fall semester gets packed full and crazy in a hurry!
Now I LOVE to stay busy and have things to do and keep life moving, but between working on my MBA full-time and also holding down a 7-5 job and managing Chaos and Coffee on the side, I HAVE to stay organized or else my brain goes completely nuts!!! I wanted to share some of the tips I personally find super helpful that keep me organized and help make my semester (and life really) run smoothly. 🙂
Use a Planner
Okay so in case you didn’t see my post last week, it was ENTIRELY about how to optimize and use your planner to make your semester easier for yourself!!! I can’t tell you how much more organized I am thanks to my planner. I carry it with me all the time in my purse and write down literally EVERYTHING I have going on so I don’t forget anything! One thing that really seems to help me when I’m starting out a new semester is to take my syllabi as soon as I receive them and record ALL of the tentative calendar dates in my planner. Next, I color-code (check out my 5 Ways to Optimize Your Planner post to see how I color code!) because color-coding helps information stick better in your mind, which means you’ll have a better chance of remembering your dates and appointments!
The planner I use is no longer available since it’s for 2017-2018, but here is the Wildwood Weekly 17 Month Planner by the same company as mine now, Rifle Paper Co., that I’m planning to get as my next one! (Here is also the matching Rifle Paper Co. Wildflowers Memo Notepad that I’m planning to buy when I order my new planner and also the Carpe Diem Bloom Stickers I use currently for decorating!)
I won’t go too much into detail about why I love these since I just hit you guys with that in my last post, but I would definitely suggest getting a planner that you like and can see yourself using for the next year. If you don’t take the time to pick one out that YOU like, then you probably won’t want to stick with using it so make sure you pick the right one for you!
Make To-Do Lists
So one of my little quirks is that I LOVE to-do lists and make them for literally EVERYTHING in my life — school, work, cleaning my apartment, etc. They just help me get things done and prioritize and if we’re being completely honest, I find it super satisfying to check off the things once I finish them!
(Kinda like Monica in Friends where she is packing to go to London and everyone thinks it’s quirky that she says “Check!” after doing something. I feel Monica… I feel.)
I always have multiple to-do lists going: one for tasks to do at work, one for my school work and assignments I need to accomplish that week, another for errands I need to run, things I need to clean at home, etc. Like I always say, my brain is a constant shuffle of a million and one things so writing them down helps me to remember and see what exactly I need to get done. For my list at home, I use this Rifle Paper Co To-Doodle-Do Notepad since it’s so cute and the look and color goes with my rustic design and feel I have for my apartment! At work, I usually just use post-it notes or my earlier notepad I mentioned that I have in my planner. 🙂
Use Spiral Notebooks with Folders
Okay these things are the BEST in my opinion. I used them every single semester when I was going for my undergrad and it was perfect because I always had my notes for every single class so I didn’t have to keep up with a bunch of different notebooks or folders. Plus I always had all my class materials with me if I wanted to squeeze in some study time between classes so I didn’t have to do it later!
These are usually sold with the back-to-school stuff at stores, but if you’re like me and hate trying to brave the crowds during back-to-school shopping when everyone is stampeding to the back of Target to squeeze into 2 little aisles where they keep the school supplies, you can also buy it on Amazon (I’m telling you, Prime has spoiled me and I couldn’t love it more)!
I always got the 5-Subject, Five Star Spiral Notebook with Folders, but they also make them in a 2-Subject option as well if you are taking a lighter load. I always used the 2-subject ones when I took summer classes and the 5-subject ones when I took my classes in fall and spring! Also another reason I prefer to buy them from Amazon instead of in the store is because these specific ones are SOOO difficult to find if you’re looking to buy them for the spring semester or summer when they don’t have back-to-school stuff in most stores. I could always find the ones without the spiral protector on the edge and with the paper, manilla folders inside but never the plastic folders (I don’t like the ones with the paper, manilla folders inside because it’s SUPER hard to get papers to go down into them, and also they rip a lot easier). So anyways, now I just find it easier to order them online to avoid the hassle all together! 🙂
These make it super easy to stay organized throughout the semester and the paper for each subject is usually enough last me the whole term without running out!
Make a Schedule (AND COLOR CODE)
This one was EXTREMELY helpful when I was going to school for my undergrad degree, because I had my weekly classes, work, and meetings to attend, while also trying to add in study time, working out, and “me time.” HEC-TIC. But this helped me put down where I needed to be at what time and for me, seeing it in this kind of format really helped me manage my time! Now everyone is different, but since I used a planner for my specific dates and appointments I had come up, I used my weekly schedule more for things I had set in stone every week.
For example, I would add in my classes at their specific times, the days and times that I worked every week, and block off time for working out and studying. I found this made it easier to ensure I was accomplishing everything I needed to each week (PLUS it really helped me stick to a workout schedule and actually go workout if I saw it written down).
I’ve put together a template for you guys below that you can save and print to fill out your schedule for the week! This is in the exact format I use for my weekly schedules and *BONUS TIP* if you’re planning on pinning it up on your wall or keeping it on your desk, I would also recommend laminating it using some of these self-adhesive laminating sheets so it doesn’t get messed up or ripped! I would also recommend COLOR-CODING. 🙂
Okay guys, I literally color-code everything in my life so you’ll have to forgive me for talking about it so much, but IT IS SO HELPFUL!! You already know that I use it in my planner, so it makes sense that I would also use it for my weekly schedule! The way that I color-code is by using the same colors and categories as I do in my planner, plus a color for exercising and working out:
Pink – School assignment due dates/exams
Yellow – Birthdays
Green – Work
Blue – Blogging
Purple – Exercise/Workout
Again, feel free to personalize this with whatever works for you, but these are just the colors that I always have on hand and stick well in my mind with the categories.
Live 1 Week in Advance
I was the Queen of Procrastination.
That saying “Due Tomorrow, Do Tomorrow?” Yes. An accurate description of a large portion of my undergraduate career.
However, after I started my senior year and started taking my specific major courses for Marketing, while working and also trying to get my grad school apps submitted, I realized I needed a better method in order to deal with everything I had going on.
Although it didn’t happen overnight and took a lot of focusing on my part and checking my planner for the NEXT week’s dates in addition to the current week, it finally stuck and now I am no longer trying to scramble and stress to get things done at the last minute!
This method of “Living 1 Week in Advance” has also REALLY helped tremendously now that I’m in my MBA program. Since all my classes are online, I always make sure that they are completed a week in advance in case something comes up with work or life and I can’t work on stuff on time. If you stay one week in advance, you don’t have to worry about if you have something come up because you know you’re covered (and this has seriously saved my butt a few times)!!
That’s it friends! Hope these tips help you with your upcoming semester and I wish you all the best of luck! 🙂