Monday, 7 April 2014

♥ Organisation Skills

Something I really can not stand is not planning for the future. Even if it's just a list of things to get done on my day off, I need to have a clear plan of what I need to do and by when, and I certainly think that this has improved since I took the massive leap of moving 250 miles away from home to university.

I've always been sensible. In terms of planning, education, work, home life and money. I got my first job when I'd just turned sixteen, I was in Executive Hospitality at Birmingham City Football Club and I absolutely adored it. I stayed in this job for just over a year and because it was one shift a week and paid monthly, I soon learnt how to budget and plan how I would make my money last over the month. I then got a job at McDonalds (classy, I know) which was completely different and I've been there for over two years now. I started off part-time while I was at college and went full time over holidays and now I'm seasonal - meaning I have a job when I come home in the holidays from university. I'm extremely lucky with this job. It's very flexible and I get payed every other week. This means when I am working it's a few hundred pounds fortnightly. Which is very helpful, given my shopping addiction and social life have eaten away at my overdraft!

Money Organisation.
Before I moved to Cornwall I made sure I had money tucked away to fall back on if I needed it. This meant I didn't have to touch an overdraft until I came home at Christmas, and even then I set my limit to £300. It was very tempting to look at the option of the whole £1500 but the sheer knowledge of having to pay off that much debt scared me and it was a commitment i wasn't prepared to take up. Second term was a little bit tougher to get through - house deposits, rent and my birthday all meant I was worse off and I had to double my overdraft limit and I've now lived in a £600 overdraft for quite some time.

While at university it may seem easy to think that your overdraft will save you. This isn't true. I'd say to only get the overdraft you can afford. If you are certain you can pay it off - and stay out of it for a few months when your next loan is due - then use it. If the incoming from your loan isn't enough to cover the debt and rent and money to live off for the next two months at least I would advise to not use an overdraft up. Find part time work and have an income to cover an overdraft if you absolutely need to.

Money Tips
  • Keep a piggy bank for spare change. I put away anything smaller than a pound and then put it all up into money bags and put it back into my account at the end of term. I keep enough for bus fair and printing credit - put small change that gets in the way can be saved and it really does add up quickly.
  • Budget for the week, month and term. If you give yourself an amount to live off each week and be strict with it, you'll be less likely to over spend. I keep an envelope in my safe with each weeks money. £20 is more than enough to live off if you only go out once a week and have basics like beans, pasta and frozen meat and vegetables. 
  • Don't be scared to ask for help. My parents have never been well off. With a disabled mother and therefore only one parent with an income it may be daunting to have to ask for money. However, at the end of the day, if you're not at your family home, using up electricity and eating there, your parents may be able to spend the extra money they'd spend on the food shop if you were there.
  • Spending bans. Come the end of term, I stop myself using money at all - apart from the bare basics. This is a last resort, but if you don't need that bar of chocolate or you already have seven mascara's, you don't need another. 
  • Keep a bottle of water and a cereal bar in your bag. This will stop you spending spare change on bottled drinks and snacks which can get expensive if you tend to do it every other day. 

Keep a diary!
I'm so much of a fan of writing things down and making sure I know when I have assignments due and money coming into my account that I have two diaries (I also have a few notebooks that serve the same purpose but that's me being anal about it!). It's really good to highlight payday, to keep track of what hours you have worked or are working and the amount you should get paid. That way, if you get underpaid you will notice. It also ensures you know exactly what date you have plans. Include things like contraception - I have the injection so I have notes on when to get it topped up in my diary - and any important meetings that you shouldn't miss. Timetables are a really good feature of some diaries. Mine are both from paperchase and have everything you could need in them, including conversion charts, international dialling codes, website logs and a deadlines and exams section!

Weekly Tasks
If you're at college or university it's likely you'll have homework or coursework or revision. Set out specific days to do different things. Luckily, I only have nine hours of timetabled lectures and seminars each week so that gives me a lot of time to plan out all my work and readings. If you can, find out what you're going to be focusing on each week and read up and make notes on things that you might struggle with. It's easy to then go back to the things you've not understood with teachers or tutors. Keep up to date with any reading you may have to do through doing one section each evening. If you have exams coming up don't revise each topic every night. Chose a subject or topic for each day of the week and write out key points on revision cards to go through two days later. If the key points make sense you should just keep on top of these. If they don't, take five minutes to go back and re-revise the parts you've forgotten or don't understand fully. This will give you time to absorb the information and actually take it in, rather than just re reading and familiarising yourself with something each day. 

Revision/Workload Tips
  • Keep revision cards and highlighters to write down key points or information
  • Colour code each subject or topic
  • Have a different notebook for each subject or module. This way things won't get jumbled into one!
  • Have days off and reward yourself for your hard work. Treat yourself to a cup of tea and a fag after sitting down and learning that one piece of information that didn't want to go in!
  • Don't stress out if you don't understand. Tutors and teachers are there to help
  • Do not leave assignments or revision until the night before. This will effect sleep and performance.
Enjoy Life!
Whatever it is you are up to, be it work, college, school or university - enjoy it. I chose a degree I knew was perfect for me, in a place I knew I loved and created a good life for myself. If you have a plan for the future make it happen. Do things that will help you get what you deserve. I'd also say to always have fun. Being at school and college or university can be stressful and it can be boring doing the same old if you're in a nine to five job or school routine - but leave time to socialise and go out. If you end up in halls, don't shut yourself off and make friends. You're all experiencing the same thing so embrace it! My main goal in life is to do things that make me happy and I hope you all feel the same way. Hard work is needed, but if the end result is going to be worth it you'll breeze through!

Basic Organisation Tips
  • Keep a notebook and pen on you at all times. You never know when you might get an idea for a character or topic for an essay! 
  • Have a tidy desk space. It'll save you sifting through every piece of paper to find that assignment sheet you were given three weeks ago.
  • Keep on top of library books. Fines can creep up quickly, so always renew or take them back!
  • Have a pen pot and pencil case to keep all your pens and highlighters in one place!
  • Be prepared. Have notebooks on standby and little things like sellotape, hole punches and staplers.

This post was really long but hopefully you read something that may make you change your daily routine or your own organisation of your life. There are different types of learners and we all have our own ways of doing things, so embrace the way you do things. I, for one, am a kinesthetic learner, so I find it easier to write down or do things I need to learn. This means lots of stationary is needed. Paperchase is my favourite place or buy diaries or organisers, pens and pencils and everything featured in the photos (apart from my glasses) is from this store. They're all super cute, long lasting and reasonably priced. Ikea have excellent pen pots and I usually pick up printer paper or bits and pieces like staplers and pritt sticks from Wilkinsons or pound shops! If you're planning on going to university - or back into education - in September, stock up on the little things and if you have any questions let me know!

How do you keep organised? Do you keep a diary or are you rubbish with money? Let me know! 

Em x

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