3 April 2016

Personal Organisation: How I stay on top of the chaos


Life is chaotic. That's a well-known fact. I'm a student, with assignments, classes, social commitments, sports commitments, an exercise schedule and a meal plan. I have a lot of different things going on in my life that I need to remember. Until the start of this year I used a paper planner, usually either Moleskine or a pretty one from the Korean brand ICONIC. However, I got to the point where I was sick of carrying around a huge planner.

My planner for 2015 was a huge A4 Paperchase one, I barely used it in all honesty... it was too big to carry anywhere so I had to write things down on paper before transferring it into the planner later. It would be fine if you were always sat at your desk, but I'm usually in a lecture or seminar and then I am given the date for a homework or test. I'm not sat in one place.

And so, enter the solution.



Sunrise Calendar

I hated Google Calendar. I loved the idea and it worked well, but I couldn't stand the aesthetics. I'm a very visual person and so I can only use things that I appreciate the look of. I didn't enjoy using Google Calendar, so I stopped entering events in there. 

Sunrise however? Is wonderful. It's more minimalist. I can look at a month view on my computer and just see everything. It puts icons next to certain events based upon the text you use in the event title (so a Doctors Appointment has a Doctor's +, lectures have a cap, etc.) Which makes it easy to see at a quick glance, what's what. 

It's colour coded (as is Google), however this version is just more pleasant. It's a toned down pastel version which makes me want to colour code a little more. Each of my calendars have an automatic colour, but when I'm doing the events for classes (inputting lectures and essay deadlines) they get their class colour - I assign a colour for the class at the start of a term. My dissertation has a dark shade of red/burgundy, Buddhism gets orange and my career based lecture gets a mid-toned blue. Every term I choose this, and it applies to paper and digital coding. 

I have started using Sunrise for everything. I now order all of my shopping online, and so I will get emailed a delivery time - which I can just add to my calendar. 

Although Sunrise is a different app, it works through syncronising through Google, so if you enter something on there... it appears in Sunrise. So you're technically still using Google ;) 

OneNote

I've spoken about my love of OneNote before, it's great for taking notes in lectures which is what I started using it for! I take all of my notes online, if I have to write on paper I then scan it in later. I like having everything in the same place - and it's far easier to transport one laptop/tablet compared to millions of paper folders. 

I can use OneNote exactly the same on my tablet - I use a bluetooth keyboard for typing. This isn't as responsive as a laptop so I only use it for shorter notes. Or I can use my phone, which I use more for viewing notes. 

I've now started organising my To-Do lists in OneNote, I tried to use Wunderlist, but I just never check the app! It works well for my brother and he enjoys using it, but I still find that I either make a paper to-do list or use OneNote's check boxes. 

OneNote creates a notebook, which you can then add sections to (think like the Pukka pads!). Each semester I make a notebook - which means I now have 6 notebooks for University! Then the classes go as each section. 

I started with a separate blogging notebook for blog notes, but I find it easier now to just use a blogging section in whichever is for the Semester. This is easier to load. 

OneDrive

In the same way, I digitise all files - including paper statements - and file them into my cloud storage. I love organising things into sections, and so everything has it's own home. I have a few terrabites of storage on OneDrive so I don't need to worry about filling it up. I prefer it to Dropbox because it works more fluidly with Microsoft Office (and I got storage free with both my computer and office :P)

I have the apps for this on my phone and tablet, so I can literally access everything....everywhere! I've made all my files available online-only so I save so much space on my computer. 


So these are the three apps I use across my three platforms. I tend to use my laptop at my desk or in class, I use my tablet to read and take out when I'm not expecting to write much (a guest lecture, careers talk, or just out and about), and then my phone gets used when I'm travelling light. 

I use a Smart Pouch to travel light when I'm shopping, popping out running errands or doing exercise. I just carry cards and my phone in here, so it's great knowing that with these three apps I have all my files and planner with me. 

So, no more washi tape and stickers for me for a while. I've finally got into digital calendars!

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© Katie L Clark
Maira Gall