Hi everyone! Hope you had a wonderful break and am getting back into the swing of school life. The last 2-3 weeks have been among the busiest of my life, between new classes, a new sorority and social life, new stories for the IDS and Arbutus, a search for living arrangments for next year (as my sorority is unhoused) and a return to other activities. Some days I wonder how I manage to do it all. Here's what has worked for me since returning to IU, I hope these tips can work for you too!
1. A planner - and not the electronic kind. If keeping track of everything you have to do on your computer and it works, great! Last semester I tried that out, but sometimes I kept forgetting that the planner was there, so I'd occasionally forget about an assignment. Now I use a physical planner where I actually write things down and look at it again later, and it's been such a big help! You shouldn't only use it for homework. Write down any meetings, get togethers, appointments, and add what time and place they are occurring. This way you can keep track of everything and also prevent overscheduling.
2. Color coding. Last semester, I tried taking most of my notes online and relying on Oncourse to keep track of handouts, the syllabus, etc. And while those helped, sometimes they got lost in the clutter of everything else on my computer. I've returned to using real notebooks and folders, and I color-code them by class. I have a green folder/notebook for one class, a blue folder/notebook for another, and so on. This way, you know which notes and handouts are for which class.
3. Make use of your breaks. Sometimes you'll have several hours between classes. While it may be tempting to go home and sleep, this time is perfect for getting things done! I like to go to the Union and find a table in one of the food courts. Then, I pull out my planner and computer, figure out what needs to be done, and do it (while eating, of course. You have to eat sometime). Figure out which assignments are most important and tackle those first. It's also a good idea to do some homework for a class right after you finish that class, then you're done worrying about it!
4. Know that you can't do everything. I'm the kind of person who likes to be involved in many activities but hates missing a meeting. Recently, the newspaper and yearbook both needed writers to pick up stories, and they weren't getting much response. Before I knew it, I had 3 stories due the same week. If you find yourself in a situation where you have conflicts, talk to your group's leaders - trust me, they'll be understanding and willing to compromise. I talked to all my editors and made it so that each story would be due 3-4 days apart instead of all on the same day.
Also, if a big, once-in-a-lifetime event is coming up and it's at the same time as a meeting, go to the event. The club will understand. For example, I have not one but two meetings scheduled one day this week (they weren't at the same time). But I recently learned that at the same time as those meetings, a world-renowned violinist is performing at the auditorium. I'm a lifelong violinist whose teacher raved about this performer, so I had to jump on the opportunity. My club's leaders were perfectly OK with me not going, and they agreed to catch me up at a later time. (Want to know what I'm missing my meetings for? Check it out here!)
So the lesson here: you can't do everything. Do what's most important to you, but remember to make time for classes and socializing.
5. Sleep. Sleep is a wonderful thing. Even if you have a lot on your mind, sleeping will help you clear it for a while - and you'll feel much better. Try to sleep about 7-8 hours a night, that's about what works for me. If you can't sleep try this app! It provides several relaxing sounds such as ocean, birds, nighttime, or soothing melodies! You can put several together for a relaxing song, set a timer to automatically shut off after you fall asleep, and it's completely FREE!
6. Have fun! We're at college to learn, but we're also here to have fun! This past week I spent time every night with my new sisters and still got almost everything done. It was a nice way to relax and get my mind off of work. Even if you're not Greek, simply getting together for dinner/dessert with friends may be all you need! Here are some new sisters and I unwinding and having some fun at the end of a busy week!
Not everything I said here will work for everyone. These are what work for me, and I hope they can for you too. Regardless of what you do to stay organized and keep track of your life, I wish you the best of luck this semester!