We often talk about developing smart money habits now so that they stick with you throughout your life. But one part of the equation I normally leave out is developing the one keystone habit that will help you not only financially, but professionally and personally as well — and that’s organization.
Getting and staying organized will increase your productivity and maximize your time and money. If you feel like you always have more to do than time to do it, this post is for you.
Here’s how you can get organized as busy college student.
Before we get into the details, here’s what you’ll need:
- A good planner that has a monthly overview plus space to record daily tasks.
- A small notebook or the Evernote app. (This depends on your preference. I like to write things down on paper. If you prefer to record notes on your phone or tablet then that’s fine too.)
- A Personal Capital account fully set up.
- A Credit Karma account set up.
Organizing Your Schedule
You’re busy. You’ve got classes, work, studying, and more, all while trying to maintain some sort of social life. If you feel like you’re drowning in “to-dos,” this is where you need to start.
Planning for the Month
- Take your planner out and turn to the monthly calendar section. Start filling in all your classes and work schedule on the appropriate days noting the times. Write down any other commitments you have like family functions, parties you want to attend, group study sessions, and anything else you can think of.
- Take your planner to every class with you and record the due date of each of your assignments.
Planning for the Week
- Look at your monthly commitments and start transferring everything that you have to do over to the week you’re getting ready to start. List these in order of time. (Example: Class #1, 8:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.; Class #2, 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m.; Work, 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.; etc.)
- Now look at all the time blocks you have left and start scheduling in the things that you have to do — like eating, bathing, and sleeping. Then list things you need to do — like studying or applying for an internship. And lastly, list the things that you want to do.
- Follow your schedule and prune out activities that aren’t really benefiting you. Do first things first.
- Use your notebook or Evernote to take scheduling notes on the go. You can then add these to your planner later.
Word of Warning: If after creating a schedule you’ve got absolutely no time for yourself, friends, or family, then something needs to give. You’re on the fast track to burn out.
Organizing Your Money
If you haven’t already, go ahead and set up a Mint.com account and a Credit Karma account. These two tools are 100% free and will help you effortlessly streamline your financial life.
Once these are set up, you’re going to set two reminders on your phone.
The first reminder will be monthly. This is for Credit Karma. Just in case you didn’t know, Credit Karma allows you to get your credit score for free. (Really for free. No credit card required.) Choose a day that works for you and set up a monthly reminder to log into Credit Karma and check your score. This will help you monitor your financial health and watch for fraudulent activity.
The second reminder is for Mint and it should be weekly. Set aside half an hour once a week to log into Mint and see how you’ve been spending your money. This will help you stay on top of your budget and keep you from overspending. Take some time to pay whatever bills have come in for the week.
Staying organized isn’t rocket science. In fact, once you get used to it, it just becomes second nature. But I promise you — if you’re having trouble staying on top of your commitments or your finances, then creating a schedule and actually sticking to it will do wonders for your productivity and stress levels.
How do you keep a busy schedule organized?