7 Ways a SuperGirl Stays Organized

Are you Wonder Woman? Do you balance more activities, projects, and tasks than there are hours in a day? Do you think sleep is a myth? If you constantly find yourself having to schedule in five minute appointments with yourself just to down a bagel and keep going, you may have what some people refer to as “a hectic schedule.”
Sure, it seems overwhelming; sure, sometimes you want to break down and cry; but at the end of the day, you love what you do, and you’re proud of the fact that you can accomplish an exponential amount more than most mortals. And you know that everything you do will benefit you in the long run.
I love to feel useful, so it’s always been hard for me to say “no” to picking up an extra shift, or doing an extra project. When I was in high school, I worked part time, was active in drama club, cheerleading, amnesty international, gay/straight alliance, dance classes, and, senior year, I edited the yearbook. And I did it all while making honor roll each semester. In college, I wasn’t so active in extra-curriculars, but I held down two restaurant jobs, took a full course load, and partied my face off, while making Dean’s List. You can call me a nerd; I just think I have a severe case of ADHD that’s never been officially diagnosed.
That said, Wonder Woman, I know the meaning of stress, and I know the importance of staying organized. Here are some of my own personal life-saving tips.
1. Write everything down.
In fact, write everything down multiple times. I feel relaxed just by rifling through my brain and coming up with a list of what needs to get done, and when. Carry a planner, so you don’t have to rack your brain if someone asks what you’re doing Saturday, November 15 at 3:30 p.m. Tape a list of upcoming homework assignments next to your bed, and cross off each completed task when you’re finished. Instead of doodling during a boring lecture, write the list over again, and come to grips with what projects are the most urgent (eg. you need to start them NOW).
2. Use every minute of free time.
Have a half-hour break between classes? Email your professor while you scarf that bagel. Do that “busy-work” assignment that’s been in the back of your head – the one that’s so simple you can’t bring yourself to start it. Lunch break at work? Bring your English book and read a chapter instead of gossiping in the smoking lounge (and by smoking lounge, I obviously mean that obscure space outside the back door where everyone huddles around a butt can). You’d be surprised how much you can get done in little intervals… and you might even find that you’ve suddenly got a large interval of time to spare.
3. Condense Your Tools.
When you’re on the go, forgetting one thing can ruin your day and cause a mega-meltdown. Instead of having a folder, a binder, and a notebook for each class, get a five-subject notebook and one of those accordion folders with dividers for handouts. You’ll only need to grab the same two things each day. Plus, instead of having an assignment book, a date book, and all that fancy shmancy stuff, grab a planner that has a section for everything you might need, all in one. Still not efficient enough? Try…
4. Using Technology to Your Advantage.
My favorite tool on my Macbook? The “Stickies” application. I have notes open (in all different colors, of course), for my banking and credit card info, upcoming assignments, important email addresses, etc. As long as you have your computer, you’ll never lose them or accidentally throw them out; they’re easier to manage than rifling through a hundred pages to find one reminder; and they can conveniently disappear behind your Microsoft Word or Firefox windows, OR you can set them as a “floating window” so they’re always visible. Blackberries, iPhones, and other digital instruments can work to your advantage, and send you preset reminders so you never forget.
5. Stay clean.
This is the most difficult for me, a self-proclaimed slob and packrat. But if your papers are all over your desk, you’re not going to find your Spanish notes before the exam. Hell, even if your clothes are scattered on the floor, you might freak out if you can’t find the blouse you just NEED to wear for your business class presentation. Knowing where everything is, and how to locate it will make things a thousand times easier for you, and, in a crunch, you can probably get help from your roommate, friend, or a family member (such as when you’re stuck in bumper to bumper traffic but have to hand in an essay in twenty minutes, and your dear, sweet, darling roommate agrees to find your USB stick, print your essay on her computer, and meet you outside your dorm to pass it off as you spring to your deadline).
6. Plan ahead.
Finished everything for today? It might be easy to crash on the couch and watch SoapNet reruns for hours, just so you don’t have to think. But then you might be stressed again tomorrow. Look at your calendar, and see if there’s anything you can get a jump start on, or anything you can work on now to give yourself time to party like a rockstar on Saturday. Forcing yourself to work when you’re beat might seem like cruel and unusual self-discipline, but as a fellow workaholic, I can affirm: we did this to ourselves.
7. Take Time to Recharge.
Sure, I just said to plan ahead. And you should, if you’re up for it. But if you can barely keep your eyes open, it’s time for a nap; even if you still have one more little thing to do today. Running yourself into the ground will have drastic consequences, including sloppy work and a bitchy attitude. Besides, if you are a stellar multi-tasker, you’ll learn to plan ahead your time to recharge. Look at your calendar- if you know you have back-to-back midterms, a twenty-page paper due, and a monthly meeting, it won’t kill you to take a shift off from work. Or, if you’re on top of your game in class, you can use your free skip day when you know you won’t be missing much, and rest up with little guilt. People as busy as we are can appreciate every minute of free time, so if you treat yourself to an unexpected break, even a half-day can feel like a million years.
These are my own personal tricks to staying collected even when I feel like I’m on the brink of erupting in a volcano of anxiety. On the bright side, the waves of stress come and go, I’m NEVER bored, and at the end of the day, I can sit back and see a variety of products that I made happen. People ask me if I’m on crack, and I’m not. Just a billion milligrams of caffeine. And I wouldn’t change my lifestyle for the world.
How do all the other supergirls of the world deal with their hectic schedules?
[Photo courtesy of www.crystalcreekproducts.com]

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