How I Organize My Agenda

How I Organize My Agenda

Ever since I posted my 'How to Balance Work and Social Life' blog post and linked the agenda that I am currently using, I got a lot of follow up questions asking how I organize my agenda.  I have been using an agenda for as long as I can remember and it really does come in handy.  Especially when you're balancing multiple things at the same time.  Welcome to adulthood.  I used it more frequently when I was in school, because I was checking what assignments were due everyday, but now that I'm a college graduate, my agenda is mostly dedicated to work, appointments, and my blog.

Starting off, the agenda I am currently using is a Lilly Pulitzer 17 month (Aug 2017 - Dec 2018) agenda.  My mom got this for me which was perfect timing because my Kate Spade one that Heather got me for my birthday was falling apart (I am that person who brings my agenda everywhere with me).  I love agendas that are small enough to fit in my Michael Kors backpack and have a month AND weekly pages.  I also like when the days have lines instead of just an open box, because I feel like I can fit more into the day versus when I'm just writing in an empty box.

The first thing I'll do is start with the monthly view.  On this page I write important dates and important dates only.  Birthdays, bill due dates, and anniversaries.  I don't like to clutter this page up too much, because I only look at it a couple times. Next, I'll flip to the weekly view.

When I was in school the first thing I would do is go through each class and find the syllabus and write down for the whole semester when assignments, readings, quizzes and test, and projects were all due.  One class at a time, for the whole semester.  That was the easiest way to get it out of the way and know that everything is right here.  I didn't have to constantly open up the syllabus in multiple screens for multiple classes, because it was in the palm of my hands.  I also would put that assignments were due a day or two early in my agenda.  For instance, if the essay is due Tuesday, I would put that it was due that Monday.  That way I would have it done early, but if I needed some extra time to work on it, I wasn't stressing on the last day it was due.  Once I finished an assignment or turned it in, I would highlight it.  I also kept a grading log (I only started this my senior year and it really helped me, I even made the Dean's List and I like to think it was because of my organizational skills).  Each Sunday I would list my classes and my current grades.  It would like something like this:
COMM 303 A 97.4%, HIST 101 B 82.7%, ENG 405 A 98.1%, COMM 407 A 93.6%
Each week I would write what my current grades are, because it was important to me to keep my grades up so 1) I could graduate, but 2) so I knew how I was doing in each course.  I really liked seeing my percentages get higher each week as I turned more assignments in.

Now, I'm not in school anymore, but that is how I would do the school part of it.  Next is appointments. If I have any doctor, dentist, or even Oliver's vet appointments I would write those in and the time it starts.  Doctor appt. @ 2:30PM, Oliver Vet appt. @ 8AM.  That one is pretty simple, but it's a good reminder if I was trying to plan something for that day, I know that I have something important scheduled.  Next I would write in my bill due dates.  For the most part, my monthly bills were always the same, but I would still go in and write what bill was due and how much was due.  Car bill due $145, Target bill due $45, Last electric bill due $208.  Sometimes I pay the bills ahead of time or schedule the payment for the due date.  Once it is scheduled or I paid it I would write pd next to it so that way I know it's paid and I don't have to worry about it until next month.  Something I also do, similar to keep track of my grades, is keeping track of my finances.  What I'll do is on the day a bill is due I'll write how much I currently have in my account subtract what is owed that day and what my remaining balance will be.  Okay, this may seem obsessive, but for a while I was living paycheck to paycheck (again, welcome to adulthood) and knowing how much I have in my account was important when determining how much of what bill I wanted to pay off.  I also did the same thing for paydays.  It would look something like this:

Sept. 14th  Car bill due $175     Finance Log:  xxxxx - $145 = xxxxx
Sept. 22     Payday + $xxx         Finance Log: xxxxx + $xxx = xxxxx

This was just a small log to keep me updated as I paid all of my bills each month and it has helped me a lot with keeping me organized with all of my bills.

Next is my work hours.  I keep it pretty simple with work, but I do keep track of my hours too.  I can't tell you how many times I've had paychecks that were missing hours and keeping track of it helps me with making sure I'm getting paid the right amount.  I would simply put, Work 8am-3pm, Work 7am-1pm.  Then at the end of the week (Sun-Sat) I would write X hours of work.  That's it.  That way when I get my paycheck, if it matches with what's in my agenda then I'm good to go.  I do fix the time if something gets changed, because schedules are constantly changing so if need be, keep some white out with you!

Even though I put important dates in the monthly view I will also put it on the weekly view as well.  You don't want to forget someone's birthday!  Another category I have is my plans for that week.  If I know I'm having lunch with a friend or there's a football game or anything really I make sure to write it down.  Same thing for if I get an invitation in the mail, wedding, party, graduation, what have you, I write it down immediately.  I'm thankful I do it too, because before you know it that event is coming up and you almost forgot about it!  I will also write down my to-do list.  I try to space it out though so that way I don't feel so overwhelmed.  If something needs to be done by a certain date I'll put it down, but if it's just something I need to get done, but I keep pushing off, I'll try to make it a priority for the weekend or my next free day.  For instance, I don't work on the weekends, so unless I have plans or an event I'm attending, I'll write down some things from my to-do list.  Get glasses fixed, enroll Oliver in daycare, laundry, wash car.  I won't put them all for the same day, but I will spread it out throughout the next couple weeks and once I complete it I put a check mark next to it.  Nothing makes me feel more accomplished than seeing a bunch of check marks in my agenda!

The very last part of my agenda is my blog schedule.  I used to have a monthly print out, but it became too much of a hassle.  Instead, I have a notebook where I write down ideas for blog posts and I'll go through and decide what I should write about next.  Blogging takes a lot of time.  It's a hobby of mine, so it's fun to me, but it still takes a lot to put a post together.  There's taking pictures, editing the pictures, choosing content, writing the post, editing the post, hyperlinking the post, and once it's published you have to market it on all social media platforms.  It's definitely not something that can be done in less than an hour.  I'll break things down in my agenda, days to write, days to edit, and days to publish.  I also won't even write it down in my agenda until I after I have the pictures for it.  It's just easier for me that way, because once you have the pictures everything else follows along.  So, my agenda will look something like this: 

Sept. 20 Edit Civion Collab pictures
Sept. 23 Work on Civion Collab blog post
Sept. 24 Publish Civion Collab blog post

This helps me stay on track with which blog posts are going up and when they're going up.  It also helps for me to not get overwhelmed and work on everything all at once.  Since I still use my almost seven year old Macbook for everything, editing pictures takes a very long time.  I like to have a good amount of pictures for different post to edit all at once, versus having to open Lightroom and Photoshop several times day.

On top of all of that, I do color code, but only a little bit.  All my bills are written in red, my work schedule is written in blue, everything else is written in black and I highlight my blog schedule in pink, my to-do list in yellow, and my important stuff in orange.  I'm not perfect at this and don't always stick to the colors, especially if I'm quickly adding something in at the last minute.  However, when I do have time I like to organize it this way.  It helps draw my eyes to certain things instead of just reading a bunch of text.

How I Organize My Agenda
How I Organize My Agenda
How I Organize My Agenda
How I Organize My Agenda
How I Organize My Agenda
How I Organize My Agenda

Pictures are taken by Markey Mark Photography in Northern Virginia. You can contact him via instagram.

I realize this sounds a bit compulsive and extreme, but this barely takes me anytime at all.  I like having an organized agenda, because it helps me feel more put together.  Hopefully this helped you a bit for when you start to organize your agenda!  

xoxo, Michele