Ahh the New Year. A metaphorical clean slate. You can forget last year’s woes and start anew. My clean slate means I can forget that I wasn't exactly as organized as I wanted to be last year, but I can take another whack at it this year. I’m not not an organized person, I’m organized in my own way. In a way where I’m the only one who can read that note I scribbled on a random ripped piece of paper shoved to the bottom of my backpack, and I’m the only one who knows where I put things, but also..not. My goal every year is to be the Pinterest girl with the color coded planner, the carefully placed sticky notes and the impeccably organized weekly to-do list. I would especially love to wake up and know the day and the date (yes I’m aware this sounds nuts). Usually, I’m all “Ok, I think it’s Tuesday, yes, yes it is, ok so I have x class and I have to leave at x time.” Don’t even bother asking me the date, I could almost never tell you...It’s the end of the month, right?
Yes, I know all people struggle with the date at some point, but listen. I have some sort of innate issue where I not only never know the date but can be easily convinced that it’s the 18th when it’s the 11th. This actually happened to me. Today. I woke up this morning to an alert on my phone informing me of a friend’s birthday before I thought about it, I was texting her and seeing those party emojis that dance around the screen. She replied with many thanks and a nice tidbit of information. Her birthday is next Friday the 18th. And I specifically recalled seeing 18 on the notification but finally connected the dots that I set a one week reminder and therefore I embarrassingly apologized and looked to the positive: I wished her a happy birthday before anyone else.
HOWEVER. I would prefer never to do that again. I erased an entire week from my life. Poof.
So. Organization. Let’s do this thing.
Step 1: get a planner, yes, one with paper
My favorite, FAVORITE thing to do when school is starting back up is to get a new planner and fill in my schedule, along with organizing my notebooks in my backpack. Does it stay that way for very long?...no. But, it’s a new year and I’m going to try and start and finish it with the same glistening clean-freak, always know where my pens are, backpack just like the anonymous Pinterest girl.
I know we can all access an app and fill in our daily schedules and to-dos there, but cell phones are a black hole and you may have picked it up to look at your planner app, but the next thing you know you’ve been scrolling through soap-cutting videos on Instagram and sending your pals funny memes. If you have a physical planner there aren’t any distractions; it’s better this way, trust me.
Step 2: hacking your planner
Hey, they’re important enough for two steps, okay?
My top suggestions are grabbing a selection of multicolored pens and getting some sticky notes or note cards. It may seem tedious but selecting one color per activity can really help. For example, on my main calendar showing the entire month, I would choose green for class, blue for extracurriculars, purple for bills, red for all major due dates, black for work and so on. Just doodle a little circle or square and write the time next to it (2-345, or whatever). In the daily calendar I would break down my classes per line using the same colors and that’s where I would log daily assignments and activities. The sticky notes/note cards can be used to do a general daily or weekly to do of activities that aren’t consistent. I know that sounds like a lot but tailoring your own system like this can be super helpful.
Step 3: use the phone app I just said not to use
The phone app (google calendar or whatever you have) shouldn't be your main source but it’s a super great supplement for appointments, meeting reminders..and birthdays. I get so caught up during the week that it’s nice to get a notification a few hours in advance reminding me I have to stay on campus for a meeting or that i have a project due in four days. These are things I could/would have in my planner as well but a paper planner doesn’t send you a notification reminding you to look at it.
Step 4: utilize the space in your backpack
Backpacks don’t have all of those pockets and pen slots for nothing, use them! I feel the best when I’m prepared so I use the front small zipper pocket in my bag for in a pinch moments. It’s where I keep extra chapstick, Aleve, anti-nausea pills, feminine products, extra eyeliner, concealer and bobby pins. Finding a home for all of your other items is a good idea as well, soon you won’t think twice about where to find something (as long as you put it back in its home). If you’re looking for even more intense backpack organization, click here.
Step 5: stick with a consistent schedule
This step is my greatest enemy. The Plankton to my secret formula. The rain to my freshly coated mascara. The red hand on the crosswalk sign to my wind-burnt face.
You get the idea. My schedule is about as consistent as the sizing of women’s clothing. It’s just not. But we’re only a couple weeks into the new year and although I’m dreading it, the start of school will also be the start of my ~hopefully~ consistent schedule. Some of the most organized people I know wake up and go to bed at the same time, and that’s my kryptonite, but once I find a cure I know it will be worth it.