How to keep yourself organized and stay on task for this semester

Designing your lifestyle in college can be challenging due to many things around you. The ability to structure your days into weeks and months with the right mindset and tools will help you keep up with everything. 

Growing up in Europe, I had a pretty slow, enjoyable “kinfolkish” lifestyle. Going out to restaurants with friends was not simply about eating food to stay alive, but rather about having timeless, deep conversations with the closest people in your life. Buying one or two pieces of handcrafted clothing items was not about spending more money, but rather about understanding design. When I first came to the U.S. three years ago, I encountered a fast-paced and very competitive environment. Never have I ever seen so many stressed out people around me. And let me tell you, UC Berkeley is even worse.

There are many ambitious people at UC Berkeley who spend all their time on their passions, but oftentimes forget to take care of themselves. There are people who choose to focus on one thing (academics) over another (social life), thus leading to a higher chance of being burned out. There are others who prefer their own bubble and refuse to try out new things because of the fear of failure or rejection. The real question is how to achieve the work-life balance in academics, health, social life, finances, career, personal relationships and, dare we say it, fun? The answer simply lies in the ability to prioritize and manage time well. The good news is, time management is a skill that you can gain just as simply as Python or even latte art.

No matter what your lifestyle is, here are some tips how to keep yourself on task. 

  1. Choose your own priorities. You have an infinite amount of ideas and the world has infinite opportunities. I meet so many people who choose their classes and major to satisfy their relatives and do what’s “in demand,” rather than what’s meaningful for them. Peer pressure. Be honest with yourself and justify every your decision. 
  2. Be focused on one thing at a time put 110% of your effort in out of 100%. Take a very simple thing such as student club applications, for example. Sourcing out two or three clubs you are genuinely interested in and literally giving 110% on those applications will be much more effective than 10 mediocre ones. 
  3. You are not born with fears, meaning that you can always get rid of them. The truth is that fear of failure and rejection kills your willingness to act. I am sure you can get over it with positive affirmations and self-confidence.   
  4. Deadlines exist to help you with time management, which is the one of the most valuable skills you need to be successful in your college career. 

I used to have a lot of bullet journals in the past, but a year ago I found very cool digital alternatives, which are great for daily use and moving toward zero waste.

Notion 

My ultimate all-in-one workspace for documenting everything from meeting notes and daily plans, to finances, lists and portfolios. You can keep it all in one clean, beautiful space. The product already includes plenty of templates built for students to help manage class notes, job applications, grade calculations, a club homepage or even a reading list. Notion is different from most productivity tools because of its flexibility. You start with a page, and you can turn it into anything you want, designed any way you want. You can also drag and drop in videos, images and audio. It’s possible to create code blocks and embed from up to 500 apps, including YouTube, Spotify, Vimeo, Figma, InVision, Google Maps, Twitter and so much more!

Airtable 

It’s a spreadsheet database, which is very useful for task management, project planning and tracking inventory. Similar to Notion, there are many templates you can use to boost your productivity. 

Dropbox Paper

It’s a collaborative service where teams can edit, review, revise and manage their content — all within shared documents. This is a great tool for collaborative writing for articles and blog posts. 

Dwight D. Eisenhower once said, “Plans are nothing; planning is everything.” Do not let the obstacles of life deter you from what you want to do. The path might not be as straightforward as you expect! However, planning out how you achieve your goals can make the path towards success a bit easier. 

Contact Karina Nguyen at[email protected].