Every January brings the start of a new year, and with a new year comes the same familiar question – what’s your new year resolution? For many, a new year means a new beginning – a change to some bad habits, starting some new good habits, or maybe just trying something you’ve never done before. With just a few days into 2020, Ontario eSecondary School wants to ask: have you made your new year’s resolution yet? Do you know what your friend’s resolutions are?
With the new year upon us, we checked with OES staff and some friends and beyond the typical answers to “cut back on coffee” or “go to the gym more,” one of the more popular resolutions was to get organized! So, we’ve scoured the internet for articles and techniques different people use to help organize their school, work and life in general. Some techniques seem more simple or even more old school, others use cool new apps and other tips. Here are some of our favourite ways to keep those tasks at bay and some of the personalities that work well using these techniques manage your time and take more courses with OES of course.
Tried, tested and true, the list remains in the organizer’s playbook for a reason; it’s simple. It doesn’t require a fancy phone or computer, just a sheet of paper and a pen. Those of us with more advanced list building skills may even use a whiteboard. Whatever your medium for making a list, there are a few best practices for helping you make the most of this old standby.
This handy article highlights a number of tips that we’ve decided works best as the four P’s:
- Personalize your list by finding the method that works best for you. Is it a pen and paper list, an app, a whiteboard, or something else? As long as you feel good about the method, the list will work for you.
- Prioritize your tasks by listing them in order of how tasks need to be completed and what’s important and consider keeping different lists for different categories. If you’re not sure the best way to prioritize, check out our December blog post Managing Stress Before the Holidays (and Any Other Time of the Year) to review some methods for prioritization.
- Plan your schedule around the list. Once you’ve determined tasks and ordered for priority, try to take it to the next level by using a schedule. Mark a block of time next to the task for how long it should take you. Perhaps from 9am-10am you’re working on task number one, from 10am-10:15am you need to accomplish task number two. This works to ensure you’re reviewing and working on tasks in the order you need to complete them.
- Peruse your list and make sure you actually use it. It’s all fine and good to make the list, but what’s the point of you don’t actually go back to it and make sure you’re accomplishing something. When you go back to the list, make sure to cross off or mark a checkmark that something has been completed.
The day planner
The day planner is another tried and tested standard for the organizer’s play book (or perhaps we should say planner book). While the list is great for organizing the tasks of a day or two, the day planner takes things one step back and gives a more holistic view of a week, a month, or a few months. There are a number of day planners available and you can pick them up at your local office supply store or even dollar store. Once you have the planner though, how should you use it to maximize your productivity and organize like a pro?
For advice, we turned to a blog in the business and marketing world. These industries are well-known for having a lot of work and not a lot of time, so who better to know how to organize?
- Use the monthly and weekly view within your planner.
- The monthly view is best used to track important dates and deadlines that won’t move. This can be personal like birthdays, but can also be work or school related like test dates or deadlines.
- The weekly view is better used for tracking things that need to be accomplished that week. Be sure to copy the important info from your monthly view to your weekly view so you don’t lose track of it.
- Using the daily plan pages.
- This section of the planner is kind of just a section for lists. Use our tips for making and scheduling lists earlier in the article and you’ll maximize the use of this. Try to be specific in what you’re adding to the list. The more detail you add, the easier it can be to remember what you need to get done.
- Designate time to be distracted.
- Giving yourself a break from screen time or from a task allows you to recharge. When using any of the levels in the planner, whether it be the monthly, weekly or daily pages, be sure to block off some time to rest and recharge. Add 10 minutes in between tasks in your daily schedule. Add half a day to just relax and read a book or catch up on your favourite Netflix binge. You need time for you or else you could find yourself fighting off some burnout.
The smartphone or computer
The smartphone is an amazingly powerful device and if you have one, you probably have a calendar tool and list tool built-in. Try using the calendar app as a month, week and day planner and use the reminder app to make your lists. These are apps like iCal and Reminders on your iPhone or iPad, or Google Calendar on your Android. If those tools don’t work for you, there are a number of great free apps available such as Evernote or Habit List.
Evernote is a note taking app that allows you to make and categorize lists and notes through notebooks. You can sync it to other devices and share your notes and lists with other people if you need to.
Habit List is an app that is more about creating new habits and breaking habits you don’t want to continue. Set your habit, frequency and duration and the app will send you reminders to stick to your good habits. Talk about an app geared to the new year!
There are many free and trial-based apps out there that tackle organizing in different ways. Do a quick internet search and see what works for you!
The OES method
This is a favourite of ours for obvious reasons. Did you know OES courses are structured in a list format? Our units and lesson plans are ordered and structured in a way that is clear what task you need to accomplish next. We also allow for a six month timeline to complete a course. Therefore you can learn and complete tasks at your own pace and schedule deadlines around your schedule. Although we can’t help you schedule your work day or personal items, we can certainly help you keep tasks in order!Have more questions? Learn more about our course structure in our FAQ section, or check out our course selection.