It is the first day of school for me today. I feel bitter to bid farewell to the great summer break that I had, but I am also happy to be back at school again. It’s so nice to see those familiar faces after a long break! Time flies. It feels like yesterday that I moved into my first year dorm and slept on the sheet-less mattress 8000 miles away from home; and now I have been here for 3 years, getting into the final year of my undergrad life.
I really want to make the best out of my senior year, to experience all the fun stuff that I can do as a student before this chapter of my life is completed. At the same time, I need to ensure that I am not screwing up my studies and graduate as planned, and that I can get a job after I graduate. I figured out that if I want to have as much fun as I can while staying on top of my studies, I need to be as organized as I can to be on top of my availability. Based on my experience from an unorganized first year who barely had any involvement yet almost failed her courses, to the third year student with lots of commitments and managed to score A’s in most of her courses, I know that being organized really helped with my studies and personal wellbeing. I’ve decided to share some of my ways in getting organized for the school year, in case any of you might be interested.
[Note: I am not sponsored by any of the software companies mentioned in this post, they are recommended based on my personal experience and preferences.]
Make good use of Google Calendar
Google Calendar is my life. I include all of my plans like classes, assignment dues, meetings, coffee dates, parties, workouts etc. in my calendar. Typically on the first few days of school, I would add all of the datelines into my calendar once I get my course schedules. It gives me an idea about how my school year looks like, so that I don’t freak out when I have 3 assignment dues on the same day as my midterm exam, or that I don’t party too hard and realize that I have a presentation a week after.
I like using Google Calendar because I can colour code easily, it syncs across all devices and can be viewed on the web, it links to Google Maps for its locations, and you can easily invite others for an event or meeting via Gmail. If you are a pen-and-paper kinda person, try to use your planner AND sync all of your plans. It might sound redundant to use both your planner and an online calendar, but you will realize that it is more convenient for you as you don’t need to carry your planner everywhere to look into your availability, all you need is your smartphone.
Have a daily to-do list
I like to list down tasks that I need to complete so that I don’t forget them. However, as my list gets longer, I get stressed looking at it and always end up procrastinating. One way that I found really useful is to have a daily to-do list besides my actual task list. I would ask myself, “What do I want to complete today?” in the morning and try to tackle those tasks for the day. I normally leave the same sticky note on my night stand, so that I can easily jot down tasks that come to my mind when I am in bed. Wunderlist is a really great app for check-listing if you’re more of a digital list kind of person. I use both sticky notes and Wunderlist.
Get your financials organized with Mint
This website/app is my saviour! As a student, I am always on a tight budget and it is so hard for me to keep track of my expenses. Thanks to the world of debit and credit cards these days, I don’t need to count all of the bills that I spend every day. Linking my bank and credit card accounts to financial tracking software like Mint.com has saved me a tonne of time in budgeting and keeping track of my expenditure. Also, it has reminders for bills and security alerts for suspicious activities.
I know many banks have been developing online services like that, but I still opted for Mint.com for its user-friendly interface. In terms of security and privacy, I was really skeptical before I use this service too. I did my research and learned that Mint.com uses bank-level security, and that it is a read-only site (which means money can’t be transferred through it), so I am trusting their service so far and it has been doing me good.
Be motivated to get organized now and keep doing it
In everything that you do, the hardest part is getting started. Let the start-of-school mindset motivates you to start being organized now. After you input all of your information into your planners/calendars/financial tracking softwares, you will be in the mood of keeping up with it. Always keep in mind that procrastinating will only accumulate your tasks and you’ll end up not being motivated to complete them again.
So these are the few simple tips on how I get organized for the school year. If you find them helpful, please share this post with your friends and family who might appreciate them. Feel free to drop me a comment on how you stay organized too! I hope you all had a good break this summer, happy back to school! 🙂