Life Skills and All that Jazz

Well, school has started and I’ve been off this blog for a surprising amount of time. It’s unfortunate, but I’ve been REALLY busy preparing for this coming semester and, in some cases, plunging in. This semester, I’m taking on a lot. I’m signed up for 16.5 credits of classes (though I will likely drop a class by the end of the week), I’m running the biggest section of our on-campus newspaper, I’m taking a position with my sorority, and I’m working 10 hours a week still at my internship. Not to mention that I’m in a long-distance relationship that is just not-terribly-far enough that I talk myself into driving the 2.5 hours to his place just about every other weekend. (He comes here on the off weekends, so it’s fair, at least). It’s a lot to juggle.

So lately, I’ve been working a lot less on my media and communications skills (although I’m currently redesigning the company website banner at work, which has been fun) and a lot more on my life organization skills. Somehow, I missed that crucial learning process when I was younger. I’ve always been a high-functioning clutterbug, procrastinator and all-around disorganized person, and it was never a problem. Until now. The stuff:time ratio has exceeded the capacity of my current lackluster organization skills.

Here’s what I’ve been working on lately:

1. Keeping a planner. I’ve tried to do it a thousand times in the past. I even tried last semester. But I’ve never quite gotten the hang of it. Usually, I forget to mark things down in my planner and the thing quickly becomes obsolete and lies forgotten in some drawer. This semester, however, I’ve got a new system. Every time I get a list of deadlines (and I’ve gotten quite a few already in the form of syllabi and newspaper issue lists), I sit down at the end of the day and mark it down in my planner. Things like professor’s office hours and useful email addresses also go in there. And instead of writing everything in different-colored pens (which usually was my downfall since I didn’t take all my pens everywhere), I write everything down in black pen and then highlight the important stuff in a variety of colored highlighters, which can be done at a later date. So far, this is working well.

2. Organizing the inbox. Email is the scourge of my existence. I hate it. (Let’s be real- doesn’t everyone?) And I currently have four email accounts. One for school, one for work, one for the newspaper and one personal account. On any given day, each of them is likely to receive 30 or more emails. So I’ve taken up the habit of having all my emails forwarded to one email account, my school account, which is on Gmail. And just today, I figured out how to create labels for my emails and color code each email. Now it’s about a hundred times easier to find a particular email in my inbox because it’s color coded accorded to topic. It’s awesome. Is it sad that I can work PhotoShop with ease but I only just figured out how to organize my email? Talk about one-sided.

3. Putting papers in a binder. Yeah, I know, folks. We’re in the basics here. I told you I missed a few life lessons along the way. Last semester, I’m pretty sure I would have done better in all of my classes if only all my papers had been in a binder and not scattered across my desk, in my purse, in my car, etc. Until now, papers just sort of stayed in the first place I put them down and then when I had to find my syllabus to check a due date at the last minute, I was SOL. But this year, I finally broke down and paid the $5 for a three-hole punch and it is going to change my life, I’m convinced. All my papers from this week are already in there. It’s wonderful.


Other quick fixes I’ve employed lately:

1. Making my bed every morning. I’m so much less likely to want to cry when I walk into my room at the end of the day if I do this.

2. A hook by the door for keys. Last semester alone (we’re talking 3-4 months tops), I temporarily misplaced my keys or forgot to take them with me no less than eight times. Now I always know where to find them and I look at them every time I walk out the door.


None of this is revolutionary, I know. But it’s amazing what a few quick, simple organizational habits can do.