It’s pretty common knowledge that in order to be successful, one should be organized, but that’s about the only common knowledge part about it. When it comes to getting and staying organized, it’s hard to really figure out what works best for you without just trying it out and seeing what you stick with… right?
I’ve tried and tested multiple methods more than once over the years, and am hoping my experience can help you decide sooner what you may do best with. Each method has its pros and cons, so if you know yourself, you should be able to figure which works best for your lifestyle. I will rate each method with the five hearts method, and give a brief description of my overall opinion.
If we were doing a science experiment on the best method of productivity, I would consider this one the control. It’s a pretty average way to keep track of things with a pretty average level of customization options (you can draw in it and add stencils, washi and other pieces to it if you’d like, but each page still has the pre-printed options) and it still requires some thought to checking and carrying for it to work. You’ll need a pen at least, which can be cumbersome, but if you carry a bag or purse, you may find this an easy addition. It’s also a very cheap option, considering most universities will provide you with a free one at the beginning of each year. The only thing about a planner is that it’s not very likely to hold any sentimental value unless you do end up putting the time into customizing it, which makes it not a great option for those who want an interesting way to remember their daily tasks. If you aren’t sure what kind of person you are, I’d definitely recommend starting with this for a couple months and seeing exactly what you need, what’s working and what’s not working with the planner to know where to go from there.
If you’re willing to dedicate the time to a bullet journal, they’re a blast to own. They’re highly customization, considering you get to pick out the journal that you love and then layout the inside however works best for you. It’s pretty time-consuming, so if you don’t want to spend, or cannot find the extra time to fool with a bullet journal, then I highly don’t recommend it. However, it could be a great thing to hold on to for the little one to look at when they’re older. Adding polaroids, growth charts and drawings from your tiny person is a sweet way to keep an astonishing look-book that your kid may actually be interested in going through later in life. It’s also a great way to look back on your experience and remember all of the good and bad about being a college parent (which I highly encourage).
Bullet journals do require a lot of items to make them fun and beautiful (washi, watercolor pens, calligraphy pens, regular pens, stamps, etc.), so they are not as convenient to carry around and fill out throughout the day, unless you set up the page early in the morning. It’s certainly not ideal for any parent to solely do.
Overall, I love bullet journals because they provide a way to keep everything I want to remember long-term in one beautiful space, and I get to be creative, but this is not my main source of remembering when it comes to a productivity resource. It’s more of an art project for me, but there are plenty of people who fare well with it as a productivity tool, and if you’re one of those people then awesome! Send pictures!
Photo: M. Judson (Bullet Journal Goals!)
Online calendar/Productivity Apps
These are personally my favorite resources. I keep everything possible on one of my Google calendars and on my productivity apps on my iPhone. These resources are hardly customizable (maybe have five or seven pre-picked color options to recolor), but the ease of these resources makes up for it. Easy to use interfaces that can be synced straight to your phone make having a calendar impossibly easy. Also being able to set reminders allows you to forget about your to-do list and calendar until you need to remember them, without missing a thing! The cost for this ease? Not a dime! Of course, there are in-app purchases, and you could probably find even better interfaces for cheap, but I’ve not spent a dime to enjoy this productive technology. Google calendar, and other productivity apps, like Evernote, iCloud and the Apple reminders app are lifesavers. I highly recommend them for every very busy, tech savvy college parent.
Wall calendar, cork boards, white boards; you could really make your wall a space for all things productive, and they would look pretty cool just because… well… they’re inherently cool-looking. With all kinds of colored markers and multiple options for the mounts, you could make the space whatever you really wanted and rework it as you please. However, it’s not at all transportable, nor is it something that you can keep forever. The wall would be forever changing. It’s easy to look at the wall mounts and see what needs to be done, what’s coming up, etc., but it’s not always easy to remember what needs to be written down unless you’re standing right next to it, or close by. This can be a real problem. Kids can also be problematic with this one, because, without backup, everything could be gone in the blink of a colorful monster drawing. It’s an exciting thing to go color on and erase, even as an adult. I definitely would recommend having some sort of backup plan to this method, if you decide to try this one out. Either that, or save it for when the kiddos are too old to be fazed by the coolness of this idea.
Startup for one of these isn’t that much, but it could get costly over time. It’s an ultra creative idea that can’t be easily messed up, like the wall mounts, but it’s still something that could be detrimental without a high location or a backup (I picture a tall three-year-old [not naming any names, PD] that would immediately run off with the lowest row). This method could be transportable, if you’re willing to take the calendar off of the wall and take it with you in your back pocket, but that would take away the ease of the method. I guess it would just depend which you find more important: transportation or ease.
When you’re done with each month, you can gather the entire month up into a nice sticky pile to thumb through later. The customization could come in that moment, when you decide how to stick it together, or while it’s on the wall; stickers, washi and other removable pieces could ornament the calendar. The individual squares themselves are pretty custom.
Photo: Martha Stewart (my walls aren’t smooth enough for this)
Like the methods of keeping up with everything there is to do, every parent is different. You may find one method best, or you may use a combination of these methods. You may use something entirely different, like post-it notes everywhere you turn or simply storing it all in your brain (kudos to you if you can just remember everything). Whatever helps you be successful is ♥♥♥♥♥ fantastic! I personally like to keep a bullet journal and a series of apps. My partner prefers refrigerator calendars, and it works. We both get done what we need to, and we’re a content little family because of it.
What method works best for you? Did you find any new method that you think best for you? Is there a method you use that isn’t listed? Let us know! I’m curious to see how everyone else fares in the productivity resource department, and if you’re a creative person, like me, I’d love to see pictures of your methods.
Have your best day,