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Stay organized with MOVE's three tips

Here are the pros and cons of different ways to stay on top of your notes, planning and schoolwork.

By Hannah McFadden | May 7, 2017

Tags: Finals Organization tips

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Organization.

For some, it’s necessary to life.

For others, it’s a fantasy: a Pinterest board of ideas for color-coded folders and highlighters that have never been tried. Being organized is just a fever dream for some, and that’s totally fine. Color-coding, highlighting and Post-it notes are no novelty, so here are three lesser-known or underappreciated methods of organization, as well as their pros and cons.

Bullet Journals

If you’re really into Pinterest organization, chances are you’ve seen these cool notebooks. A bullet journal is essentially a do-it-yourself planner, but can even be considered a type of diary. You decide what you want to keep track of and how often. A bullet journal can be used to track school work, eating habits, exercise and pretty much anything else. Bullet journaling is a great way to stay organized because it’s completely customizable. You can choose daily, weekly, or monthly layouts.

Another bonus to using a bullet journal is how simple they are. All you need is a notebook and a pen. It takes some work to put it together at first, but once you find a system of journaling that works for your schedule, it will become easier. However, the journal does become pointless if you forget to log in it every so often, so just make sure you can commit to it, even just a little.

Excel Spreadsheets

If you need help organizing your finances, take sophomore chemistry major Madeline Inslee’s approach and use Excel spreadsheets to budget. Excel is especially good for financial planning because of its calculation tools. According to Inslee, It’s also good for keeping track of progress on things like projects and personal growth because of the graphing features.

Inslee has been using Excel spreadsheets to keep track of various aspects of her life since she was in middle school. She kept track of books she had and lent out to others.

“When I came to college, I refined it more just as I needed more things to be tracked as I was taking care of myself and having my own expenses and budgeting,” Inslee said.

Mind Dump

Berkley Hudson, an associate professor at the Missouri School of Journalism, recommends a mind dump.

A mind dump is taking time to sit down and write out everything on your mind. Don’t do any of the things you’re writing, just get them down on the list.

The idea is to take the mind dump slow. This helps to process exactly what you need to take care of, and keeps things from taking up space in your brain.

“Our mind doesn’t separate between work and home and personal and professional and boyfriend and girlfriend and dog and pet,” Hudson said. “Our mind just wanders. It’s like circling. By doing a mind dump, you are able to see what is on your mind and then you can say ‘ok, what really matters? What do I need to do? That’s why it helps us to make a list, because it gets it off our mind. Our mind can only hold so much in terms of these things we’re supposed to be doing.”

Hudson follows the teachings of David Allen, founder of the Getting Things Done methodology. Allen believes that writing down everything building up in your mind will help with cognitive distribution, so that you aren’t holding on to excess information and unwanted stress, both of which are important to eliminate as a college student. Hudson makes his students do the mind dump technique in class every now and then.

“So you do the mind dump for ten minutes and then go through and pick out the things you can do in two minutes,” Hudson said. Of course, not all tasks will take two minutes. But in the class, Hudson then has his students pick two of the two minute activities and allows them to take care of those activities.

“This sense of relief just goes through the room once they’ve done the two minute things,” he said. “There is a lot of pressure just being a student, you know, and I think this relieves the pressure.”

Edited by Libby Stanford | lstanford@themaneater.com

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