How I Finally got Organized in my Junior Year of College

There is one thing every human should be utilizing to the fullest potential in college: a planner. I know what you must be thinking: “Carrie, how on earth did it take you 19 years of life to figure out the planner situation?” Listen, I’m an incredibly gifted person when it comes to organizing other people’s lives, but my own? Not so much. All through grade school I used a planner. I picked out a new one every year, and without fail, by October, I wouldn’t remember to use it anymore (sorry, Mom). I’d start up again at the beginning of each trimester, but I could never get in the rhythm of loving to use a planner. 


So when I got to college and had to keep track of deadlines and papers and exams? I was royally screwed over. Look, I have a notebook for each class (color-coordinated, I might add), special pens and pencils for desk work versus in-class work, and special folders on my computer for different classes. The good Lord knew if He let me be good at using planners I’d be too powerful.


Now, here’s the thing about regular planners and calendars for me: I hate them. They’re never set up how I want them to be. Where’s the doodle space and the inspirational quotes? Where’s the color variation? Who wants to lock themselves into one color scheme for a whole scholastic year? Not me. So, for a really long time I used sticky notes and random scrap paper to make to-do lists and keep track of my homework in college. I constantly had little pieces of paper all over the place, and even reminders written on my hands. It was far from a perfect system.


Then I discovered two little things that changed my life: a bullet journal and Google Calendar.


“Back up, Carrie, how did you not know Google Calendar existed?” I did, but I didn’t know how to use it to its full potential. We’ll get there soon.


Let’s start with the bullet journal, or bujo for short. At first when I saw these, I was finishing up my freshman year, and they were all over my Pinterest page. I thought to myself “I must have this.” It looked like the organizational solution of my dreams. But I also really love lines, and the lack of lines in a bujo felt a little like anarchy. I bought one anyway, along with some new markers and started drawing a few spreads and pages I’d seen other people draw. But then the semester ended, and needless to say, the habit did not take.


It took me almost a full year to finally embrace the bujo lifestyle, but I love it. I design a new spread each month to keep it interesting, I keep the color scheme fresh and relevant to the season, and I can keep track of things how I want to. So now I’ve got the day to day down, but I normally only make one month’s worth of pages at a time, which is hardly helpful for planning deadlines and study sessions for an entire semester. Solution: Google Calendar.


Listen, I really think Google should sponsor me for how much I rave about my Calendar set up, but that’s another conversation. I love my calendars, and they’re 98% of the reason I feel like a successful adult. Last fall, I finally figured out how to make new calendars and customize them. So now, instead of just having my family calendar (which is synced to all of our phones, how cute), I have 8 other calendars, each with a specific purpose.


There’s no way I need all 8 of them, and some of them rarely get used, but I’m so glad I created them. Let’s break down the categories first. I have my own personal events calendar, which is where I keep doctors or dentist appointments. Then I have 3 calendars for meetings and clubs, social events, and one specifically for University Activity Board events. I keep the meetings and clubs calendar because I belong to more than one club and we don’t always meet in the same place at the same time, so that helps me to know where I’m going. Birthday get together with the extended friend group? Social calendar. And of course, I need reminders about when UAB is hosting their next craft night. 


The next category is all academic-based. They each have their own titles and unique purposes. “Projects and exams” is where I record all my big due dates. If it’s bigger and less frequent than a quiz, it goes in this calendar. The color code for this one is bright orange to remind me to get my butt in gear. Next is the “Research” calendar where I keep track of meetings with my team, and my big deadlines for research specifically. Then I have “Studying and work” and “Reminders,” which are both pretty self explanatory. The studying calendar is usually where I organize my library days and when I will be doing study groups. 

This really is the way I finally got myself organized in terms of time. Time management is huge in college, and I needed a solution that worked for me, so I created it! No one is going to teach you this skill, but it’s important to learn, so I hope this helps!