Tips from a (formerly) disorganised person

February 12, 2016 4:45 pm

Throughout my degree, my approach to getting work done could be succinctly described as “smash it out at the last minute”. I’ve got so many memories of sitting up the night before an essay was due, frantically typing, the heady fragrance of Red Bull in the air, that it’s getting hard to differentiate them. I used to justify it by saying that I needed the pressure to do my best work, but in my head I knew that I was just a super disorganised person.

Thank goodness that we now live in a world where there are heaps of free online tools, aimed at helping frazzled people like me to get it together. I can now proudly say that I am a bona-fide (somewhat) organised person. What’s more, I’m going to let you in on my productivity secrets.

You’re probably wondering why the hell you should even care about organisational tools. Well, there’s two reasons:

1. Planning and Organisation is one of the competencies we assess in the Teach For Australia selection process. If you know that organisation isn’t your strong suit, you’ve got plenty of time to work on this before the 4 September deadline.

2. It will actually make your life better.

I’ve chosen these tools because they are dead easy to use, especially if you haven’t implemented a planning system in your life before. My theory is that a tool has to be simple, or you’ll find it too difficult to incorporate it into your daily routine.

1. Google Calendar. I used to use a paper diary… it was fine, except that my handwriting is the written equivalent of Elaine’s dancing (bewildering and difficult to understand.) I would frequently miss deadlines because I couldn’t read my chicken scratch, or because I’d simply left my diary at home. Google Calendar allows me to access my schedule from any device, plus I can sync both my work and personal diaries.

2. Workflowy. It’s like a traditional to-do list, only it does ALL SORTS of awesome stuff. Like Google Calendar, you can access it from anywhere. You can also share lists and collaborate with other people. The best part is that you can categorise dot points using hashtags. So, if I click on the hashtag #Thursday, Workflowy will bring forward all the tasks I have earmarked to do on a Thursday.

3. A Pomodoro Timer. The Pomodoro Technique has totally saved me all those times that I’m meant to be writing a blog for the Pass It On website, but feel the creeping urge to check out ASOS instead. You work solidly for 25 minutes, then reward yourself with a 5 minute break.

If you get onto these tools straight away, you can turn yourself into a planning dynamo by the time September rolls around. What’s more, you’ll probably find more time for all sorts of things in your life. Like making a delicious soba noodle salad. Or filling out the Teach For Australia application.

Check out the application