How to Organize Your Life

Guest Post from the Writer of ‘Lollipops and Longchamps’

Hello Readers!

Most of you are either in high school and college, which means in a couple of weeks, you will be heading back to school and starting a new school year full of assignments, tests, extracurriculars and more! Organization is super important for sticking to deadlines and making sure you don’t go crazy during some of the most hectic weeks of the year.

Since elementary school, I have always been extremely organized: I kept a binder and a folder for each of my classes, each of my planners from fourth grade through the present are color coded by class and activity and my desk is full of sticky notes, to-do lists, calendars and highlighters (which is usually a huge mess- I’m still trying to work on that!).

For those of you looking for some organization tips and inspiration, here are five of my organization tricks that have helped me over the years!

  • color_coding_ideasColor coding is your best friend: Studies have shown that you are more likely to remember things if they are written in a different color other than black or blue. In my planner, I use a different color for assignments, appointments, deadlines, meeting and more.

For each color, I write down what it corresponds to along with a short description. For example, blue corresponds to due dates for projects, essays and presentation, and pink corresponds to birthdays and holidays.

  • meal_calendar
    This is my September meal calendar. I have all of my meals- breakfast, lunch and dinner- planned out as well as a grocery list and recipes for each meal.

    Use daily, weekly and monthly calendars to map out your life: This is where your phone comes in handy. If you have a Gmail account, you can easily use Google Calendar to plan meetings, organize your schedule and even plan your meals (this is very handy for college students who want to save money!) I also like to use the monthly calendar in my agenda to keep track of events and meetings.

  • Sticky notes can help prevent sticky scheduling situations: I use sticky notes to write down my to-do
    how_to_organize
    Sticky notes are also perfect for writing assignments and due dates if you don’t have enough space in your planner or if your professor gives you a new assignment during class

    lists, goals, reminders and important information. I use the standard sized sticky notes to write out my to do lists and the smaller, “flag” sticky notes to write reminders or mark my place in my planner.

Sticky notes are great for writing motivational notes to yourself or even little quotes to put on your mirror to read in the morning.

  • Start early: I like to give myself at least a week to complete assignments and another two weeks for important meetings. This semester I am vice president of my university’s pre-med association and co-president and founder of our Operation Smile chapter- not to mention, I have a part time job, I blog, and I am a full time student. Needless to say, I am extremely busy and its important for me to know what’s going on before it even happens.
  • Make use of freebies: Pinterest is full of organization printables that are absolutely free! They range from meal planners, to- do lists, water intake trackers, goal lists, shopping lists, chore lists and more!  These printables are so cute and are perfect for your agenda, bulletin board, or bag. I mostly use a water tracker sheet, shopping list and meal planner, and a daily routine sheet that is basically a condensed version of my planner (perfect for when you are super busy!) Some printables cost money because they are sold through a blog or Etsy- most of the ones I’ve seen are notepads or personalized planners- for under $10. I’ve included links to my favorite printables below. Enjoy!

Staying organized doesn’t need to involve a complete remodeling of your life- you can take small steps like cleaning out your desk once a week, sorting papers, or even cleaning out your purse or backpack! Once you find organization methods that work for you, it becomes so much easier to keep track of everything going on in your busy life!

xoxo,

Fanta

http://lollipopsandlongchamps.wordpress.com

Links to Free Organization Printables:

  1.  Hello Monday’s weekly planner: She has a sheet for every day of the week with sections for writing out your hourly schedule and breaks down your to-do list into six categories (work projects, meal planning, beauty, appointments, cleaning and fitness). This printable is great for people who like to categorize their to-do lists instead of having one long list of tasks that are completely unrelated. Click here for the download.
  2. I Heart Planner’ s 31 days of Free Printables: Last year, she devoted an entire month to making free organization printables! Some of my favorites are the half letter daily schedule, day habit tracker (perfect for those having difficulties starting a new habit), and the library book tracker (that way you have all of your due dates in one place!) She also has a free organization course to help find  your “perfect” organization system; she sends one lesson a week each with a tip for improving your organization!
  3. Clean Mamma’s Water Tracker: I told myself that I would drink more water; thanks to my busy schedule and the abundance of coffee, tea and juice around me, I stopped sticking to my goal. This printable is perfect because the sheet is small enough for your planner and when you flip to your weekly agenda, your water tracker will be right there looking at you. Each sheet comes with two trackers (two weeks’ worth), so you can print off copies to last a couple of weeks, or laminate one copy and use a dry erase marker to track your water consumption. I like to see my progress, so I’ll probably make a bunch of copies to last a month and see how I like that versus printing one copy.

 

10 Things I learned in College

Hint: Academics didn’t make this list. 

 

1. You’re on your own

Regent_University
My university’s campus

No one will be holding your hand through this experience. Get used to it. Your advisors are not there to register you for classes or create your life plan. They are there to advise you on what you should do. You have to decide what you will do. 

2. All nighters are stupid

All nighters seem to be a staple in college. On Facebook people are all like “Yeah, pulled an all nighter and drank so much Red Bull!” This is bad for you. Don’t do it. I admit to doing it on several occasions (particularly around mid terms and finals weeks). Unless you’re doing it with friends to keep you awake and totally wired (in this case you probably aren’t getting anything done anyway), then you will end up writing something completely incoherent. I distinctly remember writing a paper that had a paragraph of nonsense that I was thinking about and didn’t realize I was actually writing it down. I was that tired! 

3. Money doesn’t grow on trees

No, Seriously. It doesn’t. Learn how to budget the little money you have so you aren’t running to mom and dad for a loan. I wish I had been smart enough to figure this out. 

Bonus tip: If you think you can afford something expensive, then you probably can’t! 

4. Get a schedule

I cannot tell you how important it is to have some sort of a daily schedule for yourself. It really helps to know what you’re doing and when you’re doing it at least during the day. I preferred to keep my days really busy (i.e. homework, exercise, classes) so that my nights and weekends were mine to enjoy. 

5. Work out

Just do it. Besides the freshmen 15 you have the chances of gaining you will be building up stress. Exercise of some sort helps with this. My sophomore year I went to a YMCA across the street from my campus and I would run or lift weights. My stress levels were a lot lower than the year before. I also succeeded in losing some of the 15 pounds I gained the year before. 

6. Be involved

College is a hub of activities, clubs, and committees. Get yourself involved in one of them. Its a great way to be connected to your school and also find people that have the same interests as you. Plus, when you’re looking for summer internships (see next point) you will have something to put on your resume that says you are involved and dedicated. 

7. Intern, intern, intern!

Supreme_Court
Semester in DC (in line for tickets at Supreme Court, we pulled an all nighter)

Internships are a God send. Sometimes. As long as they are paid (all of mine have been) and offer you substantive work to do then you have hit the jackpot. Don’t be afraid to branch out and go to knew places. You really don’t need to be at home with your high school buddies every summer. Just go and make something of yourself to improve your chances of being hired after college. 

8. Read the textbook

I hate reading (thanks to college) but there are definitely times when I wished I had read the textbook. Particularly in my freshman year when I was fulfilling my general education requirements. I found that the best time for me to read was when I had gotten in my pjs for the night with a cup of hot cocoa or tea and just read. Not only did this slowly chip away at all the reading I had to do, it also helped me go to sleep a lot quicker because the material was so boring (bet you didn’t see that coming). 

9. Build your professional wardrobe

After you graduate the world you will be entering is full of suits and pencil skirts. Prepare early. If you see something work appropriate on sale, buy it and save it for your not so far off future. If you do those internships I recommended, then you will be needing these a lot sooner! 

10. Make memories

Don’t live your life in your dorm room. Get out, make friends, take pictures, and savor every last minute of this awesome time in your life. The college years (for most people) really are the best time in their life. It goes by so quickly. I know, everyone says that about something. But its so true. Have fun and live it up!

What were the 10 most important things you learned in college or even high school? Comment below!

-Liz