College isn’t a cakewalk; don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. To the go-getter girls who are juggling a combination of academics, social life, wellbeing, internships and/or the collateral damages of everyday life – you and I both know that organization is an important tool for conquering the day. Of course, the perfect strategy is unique to everyone and undoubtedly changes as schedules and responsibilities evolve over the years. Nevertheless, here are six organization tips that have stood the test of time in my life. Now a senior, I look back on my college career and don’t know how I would have ever made it out without these tricks. And now I’m passing these go-getter life hacks on to you!
1. Establish three (and ONLY three) daily major tasks.
Since high school I have used a planner to track my to-do lists and calendar. But after a certain point in college, it became nauseating to look at; all of the arrows, white out and long lists could send anyone into analysis paralysis. My solution? After listening to numerous interviews with successful entrepreneurs, people who are in a constant swamp of tasks, I began experimenting with the idea of only establishing three major tasks a day. These are mandatory checkpoints, my must-do’s, and they are the only things I list in my agenda for the day. The smaller tasks (picking up packages, taking out the trash, emailing a professor, meeting a friend for lunch, etc.) go into my smartphone’s reminders app. I then schedule these reminders to pop up on my lock screen for whenever I’m expecting to complete them throughout my day. This creates a hierarchy of to-do’s and helps compartmentalize my thoughts throughout the day. When it’s all said and done, if you completed those three major tasks, call it a productive day.
2. Harness the power of color-coding.
Highlighters and colored tabs are a go-getter girl’s best friends. But like any healthy relationship, you know how to set boundaries. At the beginning of each semester I give one class or one aspect of my life (relationships, internship, miscellaneous errands) one distinct color. This aids my memory and is a mental reminder of where my train of thought should be when I sit down with material from any of my classes. Additionally, when I refer back to my planner, I can get a quick idea of what classes or areas of my life are getting the most (and least) attention during the week.
3. Keep a separate journal for life’s notes.
Don’t you hate it when you have a great idea, but nowhere to write it down? In the same way I organize notes for a class, I also keep a separate, small journal dedicated to my life’s notes. Shop bookshops and stationary stores for cute, blank books (I’ve already accumulated a tiny library of them in my closet). Here is where you’ll keep big ideas, small tips, favorite quotes and personal journal entries all in one place. And carry it with you everywhere! You never know when inspiration, creativity or knowledge will present itself. I promise it’ll make a difference – when I foster personal development, my professional and academic work bloom as well.
4. Invest in meal prep containers.
You are what you eat – you heard it from your mother and you’re hearing it again from me. In the hustle and bustle of the go-getter lifestyle it can be easy to sacrifice healthy eating for the sake of convenience. Meal prepping and healthy snacks help to combat this, but I’m going to take it a step further and suggest you invest in meal prep containers. They’re super cheap on websites like Amazon and will completely change your healthy eating game. No more boxy, clunky Tupperware – these products are designed to slide cleanly into book bags. Plus they’re disguised to look like takeout boxes and many even come with portion dividers. Feeling DIY? Mason jars are another great option – channeling both the practical and cute aesthetic. Regardless of what I use, I love having these designated containers in my apartment for solely on-the-go needs. Healthy food at your fingertips will yield better daily brain function, a healthier appearance and one less thing to concern yourself with.
5. Set one to three weeklong goals every Sunday.
One of my favorite times of the weekend is sitting down on Sunday night and establishing my one to three goals for the week. These are different from my mandatory tasks because they don’t have deadlines. They’re much broader and intended to be fun. Putting my relationships first, meditating more often and expressing daily gratitude are all great examples of big, overarching intentions. Change these goals regularly and relate them to whatever upcoming events you have scheduled to help keep every week unique and exciting.
6. Schedule “Me Time” daily and take it seriously.
I struggled to adopt this tip for the majority of college. It never occurred to me that self-love is just as important (if not more) as writing a hefty term paper. Whether its taking 30 minutes to read a fun book, an hour-long gym session, catching up on a favorite TV show or grabbing a power nap, daily scheduling of “Me Time” is crucial for longevity and endurance in college. Your physical health is one thing, but be sure to also respect your mental and emotional wellbeing too. The work, the parties and the responsibilities will always be there. Your sanity? – Who’s to say. Organize time for yourself, go-getter.
There’s no better feeling that a job well done and a life well lived. Hopefully one or more of these mental organization tools can help you in your endeavors!