Saturday, August 22, 2009

How to Organize Your Life With a Notebook (For the Technologically-Challenged)

As a full-time graduate student and employee, as well as a dog owner and a girlfriend, how do I find the time to do everything in my life? By staying organized. I love my mini-notebook approach to life, and it helps me keep everything in check. Try it-- you will be amazed at your ability to be organized.

Buy a small notebook. This notebook should be able to go with you everywhere, and therefore should be able to fit into your purse, briefcase, or even pocket (if you want a smaller notebook). Be prepared to divide your notebook into, ideally, five sections.

For the first section of pages, write NEEDS at the top. It might be helpful to draw a line down the middle of each page to save paper by using two columns instead of one. In this section, write down your absolute needs-- i.e. milk, bread, toilet paper, ect.-- and cross them off as you buy them. As you have the notebook with you everywhere, it will be easy to always know what you absolutely NEED to buy.

For the second section of the notebook, write WANTS at the top. If desired, also divide each page into two columns so you will be able to write more things on each page. In this section, as you see something that catches your eye, write it down under WANTS. For example, if I see a piece of jewelry, clothing, or anything else that I don't need immediately, I put it on my WANTS list. If I'm rewarding myself, or even telling people gifts ideas for myself, then I can easily refer to the list. It's a lot of fun, and so gratifying when you finally are able to cross something off. However, a word of warning: WANTS lists can be very long, so make sure to allot yourself more room as you see fit.

For the third section, write ULTIMATE TO-DO at the top. In this section, which could be one or two columns per page, write down things that are not urgent to get done, but that you want to do in the future. For example, wrapping presents, hanging pictures, ect. could all go under this listing. As you complete each task, cross them off your list.

For the next few pages, the decision what to add is up to you. I recommend adding a few sections that will help you deal with your life a little better. For instance, I have a PRESENTS section (gift ideas for important people in my life), a GRATEFUL FOR section (a list of things I put down to help remind me why I love life so much), a BOOKS/MOVIES/BANDS section (media I want to experience), and a PERSONAL GOAL section (get clearer skin, run a marathon, ect.). Get creative with this, and determine what you need help with in your life. You can have as many or as few of these extra sections as you'd like.

Finally, save MANY pages for the end, and divide each page into two columns. In each column, write down SUN-SAT and the daily goals for each day of your week. This is very good for adding urgent to-dos for a specific day, and to ensure that you get everything accomplished.

A notebook should last you for quite a while (one lasts me 6 months or more), but when you have no more space you can either add pages to the notebook or start a new one. You should have quite a few (if not the majority of) things crossed off anyway.

Any comments, concerns, song and dance routines? Leave a comment! :)

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