Life is a lot. Trying to balance all aspects of student life, work life and social life (COVID limited) on top of dealing with the mental drainage of being in a very uncertain pandemic is challenging. For me, organisation is a huge way I can help declutter my brain, so I thought I’d share the way I’m currently planning my life.
Work out what is important/necessary for you. I set 3 main priorities – everything that fits around them I can say ‘no’ to if I don’t have the time or energy. I find that saying no to things can be really hard, so by having 3 concrete non-negotiable priorities it stops the guilt for me. Spending time with family and friends is an absolute given, so I set 3 priorities that go alongside this – one of which is my degree!
The uni workload this year is immense. I can’t think of any other way to describe it. With tasks from different modules flying around left, right and centre, the only way I can get it all done is by seeing it all in one place. On a Monday morning (or Sunday evening) I will get an A4 piece of plain paper with ‘To Do’ written in the middle of it, and will write down in mind-map form every single piece of reading, seminar prep, podcasts etc that need my attention. I will always have outstanding tasks from the week before, so I’ll make sure these are on here too. When I’ve completed a task, I give it a little highlight to tick it off.
I have a lot of work that isn’t related to uni, but I don’t really like to mix the ‘main’ to-do lists. If I’m looking for uni work, I only want to be seeing uni work on that list… So for each of my responsibilities I have a little index card that has all the jobs (in mind map form again) that I need to do. I’ll regularly update them when work comes in and highlight tasks off when it’s completed.
Now you know how I collate my workload – lets chat about how I actually manage it daily. Using my academic planner, I’ll write out a list of what I think I can achieve that day. I write it in the morning when I’ve seen what my calendar is looking like and can assess how productive I’m feeling – just to keep the list realistic. On average, I probably have 7 tasks written down that range from chapters of reading to tackling my inbox. I take the tasks as a combination of my master uni to-do list and a handful from my work ones. I’ll tick the tasks off as I go through them, any that I don’t get to I just put a little mark next to to carry it into the next day.
I don’t think I could survive without my Google Calendar. It basically has my life on. Deadlines, classes, events, meetings – you name it, it’s on the calendar. On a Sunday evening or Monday morning I’ll print out the weeks spread, colour code it and put it on my pin-board. If anything else comes up during the week I’ll just write it in. Having the calendar printed on paper makes so much difference to me, it allows me to see my time in front of me, rather than having to keep checking a screen to work out what I’m doing next.