As a triple-major, a legal secretary, and an e-board member of my sorority, I often find myself stressed out and lacking free time. So, naturally, I decided to take something else on… I have officially enrolled in the paralegal certificate program at my university. This means that after three terms of Saturday classes, an internship, and one night class, that I will be a certified paralegal. At first, I was unsure about this decision because it’s such a huge commitment. I also felt that if I were to become a paralegal, I might get too comfortable in my job and not want to continue on to law school. However, after talking to a few attorneys that I work with and the director of the program, I’ve decided to go for it. Here I go with another journey.
People often ask me, “how do you do it?” and “why do you put yourself through that?” My honest answer is: I don’t know. I typically succeed under pressure, which is why I like to have a full work load. I like what I do, and even though it sometimes restricts me from doing other things, nothing in me wants to change the path I’ve been heading down. But, to answer the how question, I’ve made a list of tips about how to stay extremely organized with an extremely busy schedule.
Step 1: Get a great planner!
I currently use the Day Designer (pictured below), which has literally been a life saver. Yes, I know it is more than corny to say your planner is your savior, but once you buy one, you’ll understand. Everyone that I know who has one is extremely satisfied. Each page is taken up by one full day, separated into sections: today’s top three, to do, notes, daily gratitude, due, dollars, dinner, and don’t forget. I find it extremely easy to stay organized with a section for virtually every part of my day!
Also: for those of you (cough, cough, Brittany) who just won’t remember to write their responsibilities in their planner, or remember to check it after they’ve written it, something else I do to stay organized is write tasks on sticky notes and put them at eye-level above my desk. You’ll never forget about something that’s staring right at you!
Step 2: Manage your time well!
The biggest issue in trying to stay organized is time management. Many people like to procrastinate, including me, but then they feel overwhelmed and aren’t able to perform as well as they could have if they’d spaced out their work. If you know you have a big project, or paper, or responsibility coming up, try working on it in intervals; one hour a week, or half an hour a day, or whatever works for you. I’ve found that by doing a little bit of something during my down time, the final product turns out so much better.
Step 3: Ask questions!
Seriously, this one is important. I cannot say this enough: go to office hours, go to your boss – ask them questions! This past semester, the majority of my classes were among the hardest I’ve ever taken. I remember being seriously concerned about what my grades would be come May, and (for the first time, as a junior…) I took advantage of office hours. Just by going to see my professors for a few minutes each week, I felt so much more prepared for my assignments and had a new level of understanding for the topic. I’ve heard many students say that they don’t know what to ask, or that they feel weird just stopping in, but that’s what they’re there for! If you don’t know what to ask, just say something like “can we go over what we learned on this day? or “I’m not sure what I need to do for this assignment, can you help?” I promise, just starting by asking one question will make your life so much easier.
Step 4: Relax a little!
As someone who absolutely takes on way too much, I can tell you firsthand that relaxing is definitely not on my to-do list. And then every November like clockwork, I find myself burnt out and diagnosed with the flu. You have to relax no matter how much you have going on or how big your tasks may be! You could do this in a number of ways: by choosing a time at night where you stop working on/thinking about your work, or by taking periodic breaks during the day, or by having weekends completely off. Everyone is different, and everyone needs time to themselves!
Step 5: Remember, nothing is the end of the world…
This is something I often have a hard time reminding myself. I get so caught up in the little things; grades especially. However, nothing is ever as big of a deal as you think it is! Whenever you’re feeling stressed, or pressed for time, or like you’re going to fail – remember that life goes on. You can always fix a mistake. You can always do better next time. As my best friend Bianca would say: you can retake a class, but you can’t retake life. The sun is going to come up tomorrow, and you will be fine.
I hope these little tips were helpful! Thanks for reading, XO