I have never been known for being overly organized or clean. Ask any of my past or present roommates (or parents): my room is always covered with clothes. on the floor, on my bed, on my dresser. heaven forbid it they go in my dresser, the closet, or laundry hamper. A majority of the time my desk is just a place to collect papers, junk, and random things that I do not want to have to deal with. I usually end up doing my homework on the kitchen table because I can’t even see the top of my desk, let alone use it. In college I often had random papers floating around in my backpack and was never very good at keeping a planner.
When I came to graduate school I knew that one thing I really needed to work on was my organization. No more flimsy notebooks and folders. Enough with the “just remembering what homework I had to do.” It was time to start acting like a real adult when it came to my work. Instead of buying the 10 cent notebooks I splurged and got composition notebooks. Not only do they seem to hold up better and are less messy but they make me feel more productive. Nothing says “I’m smart and I know what I’m doing here” like a composition notebook. I did not get the paper folders but got a nice 5 pocket folder. This way, instead of carrying around multiple folders and risking forgetting which color went for which class I could always have it with me. The folder I got this semester was a hefty 3.99 but it is exactly what I want in a folder. The front pocket can hold a calendar so I never forget when an important assignment is due.
I also got legal pads and colored felt tip pens. On the legal pad I write down all of the homework I have for each class due in the next week. I then go to the next page and, using a different color pen for each class, write down what homework I am going to finish on which day. This helps me stay on task and not fall behind, leaving everything for one day. Last year I only did one week at a time but I think a more vigorous schedule this semester means I will have to plan two weeks in advance. My time management skills have grown exponentially since starting this. The colored pens are probably my favorite source for organization. Not only do I use them on my weekly task list but I use them when taking notes. My notes look very organized and easy to read with a couple different colors instead of random underlines.
Google calendar has become my lifeline. I can access it through my computer, phone, or ipod. If it is not in my google calendar, it does not exist to me. I honestly think I would have lost my mind if not for my calendar. I can add or remove an event from any device and it is so helpful to plan my day and keep on top of things on the go. Everything from lunch with a friend to my class and work schedules gets plugged into my calendar. Similar to my task lists and notes, my google calendar is color coded. A different color for nannying, the library, class, and social events.
Not only do these tools help me to be more organized, but they encourage my productivity. I look forward to sitting down and planning my week. I get a small thrill from deciding which color I will pick. I find great satisfaction in crossing a reading off of my task list. I feel calm and collected looking at my calendar instead of trying to remember each and every date.
What do you do to stay organized? Do you have any favorite school supplies?