Getting Organized for Back to School!
By Rachel Carey | HealthCorps Coordinator 2017 – 2019
Even though I’m no longer a student, the excitement that is back to school season still gets me fired up about getting organized! If you ask any HealthCorps Coordinator, I’m sure they’ll tell you at any given time, they have 12 projects up and running, 4 meetings this week to discuss new projects, and about 87 other ideas they’d like to get accomplished by the end of the semester. Ok – that may have been a bit of an over exaggeration, but you get the picture! Our schedules are nice and full, which is why it’s so critical for us to fine-tune our organizational skills. Open up your calendars, people – it’s time to get set up for a beautiful school year ahead!
Figure out what works best for you
Whether it’s a handwritten agenda, digital calendar, or a giant pile of sticky notes on your desk, everyone’s brain categorizes tasks differently – and that’s perfectly okay! The trick is to figure out what method(s) work best for you. You can try one or try them all, but be sure to keep track of how productive and sane you feel after each method!
I utilize both an online calendar to organize big picture events and a bullet journal to track more detailed to-do’s. Bullet journaling is a form of “rapid logging” or a hand written agenda that you can keep a running, bulleted lists to help keep you on track with a number of activities. I’m excited to share more photos of my personal bullet journal below!
To avoid being blind sighted by a major due date or upcoming event, at the start of each month I make sure I look at what all I have coming up on my plate. Once I have a handle of how the current month looks, I’ll even take a peek a few steps forward to see what the next 2-3 months look like to help keep myself informed. If you’re starting school, you’ll likely be getting class syllabus or access to your school’s master calendar. Start plugging these dates into your calendar as soon as you get them! Your future self will thank you for the heads up!
Set some SMART goals
Once you know what you have on your plate for the month, set some intentional goals to keep you on track! At HealthCorps, we teach SMART (specific, measurable, action-oriented, realistic, & time-bound) goal setting with our students – it’s a great way to stay accountable with yourself.
Realistically manage your calendar
Here’s a tip I struggle with – being realistic of what you have going on before you agree to add on an additional load. If someone asks you for a favor but you’re already swamped, it is NOT selfish to say no thank you or ask if you can help out next week. A good go-to line is always “Thanks for thinking of me! Let me check my schedule and I will get back to you by tomorrow”. Being a sensible “yes” man or woman will help keep your responsibilities in check so you can both help others better without burning yourself out.
Maximize your Sunday’s
Sunday’s are arguably my most favorite day of the week. Sunday is when I really concentrate on setting myself up for success during the upcoming week as well as dig into some nice self-care. I typically start off my weeks with a grocery store run, some healthy meal prepping, and some time to map out my upcoming week. You’ll feel much more rejuvenated.
Check off your to-do’s
Daily to-do lists are the only way to keep me sane on a busy day. I’m the kind of girl who writes down every tiny detail that I need to complete. I love the satisfaction of crossing things off a list and having a physical place to remind me what all I need to get done! Another option is to set 1-3 main objectives or pressing tasks and check-in on your progress throughout the day.
Do the hard stuff first
We all have an inner procrastinator that rears its ugly head at different times. It’s so much easier to go through your to-do list and cross off all the easy stuff/put off that one big, hard task…but then it’s 4pm, you’re tired, and still have that daunting task ahead of you. I challenge you to do the hard stuff first. Lift that weight off your shoulders as early as possible so you can continue rocking your day!
Keep track of your health
Even as a health professional, I’m still a human and life still gets nuts sometimes. I use things called “habit trackers” to help bring some intention back into what I’m doing for my own personal health each day. Make a list of a few actions you want to do on a daily basis then check off each day that you complete them! For the month of August, I’m focusing on things like drinking 128oz of water a day, taking 10K steps, and getting in bed by 10pm!
Take care of YOU
No mater how detailed your organizational system is, if you don’t take care of yourself there’s no way you’ll be able to happily take care of that to-do list. Something I do in my own life and encourage my students to practice is to add at least one thing 100% completely and totally for themselves onto their schedules each day. Take a walk, journal, or simply put on your favorite shirt – do something that makes you smile and record it somewhere! That’s what my “Self Care Tracker” is for. Every day I mark what I did for myself each day and color code it with how my overall mood was. It’s a great visual to see what little things you’re doing impact your day in a big way!
Take a deep breath in for 4 counts….hold it for 4 seconds…and let it out nice and slow. You DID it! You are ready! A new year can come with a whole slew of mixed emotions, from a joyous excitement to anxious nerves. Keep checking in with yourself, take it one day at a time, and simply do the best you can on any given day. It’s a BEAUTIFUL year up ahead of us!!