If you’re an adult learner, you often wear many hats. Along with being a student, you may be a spouse, an employee, a parent, and, in some cases, your family’s chef, personal driver, and activities coordinator. With so many tasks to manage (and the sometimes overwhelming feeling that you have half a dozen balls in the air at any given time), staying on top of everything can feel challenging, to say the least.
If you’re trying to find ways to keep professional deadlines, kids’ school projects, online college coursework, and every other item you have stacked on your to-do list from getting lost in the mix, you’re not alone. The good news is that when you combine one part organization with an equal part of planning, you have a recipe that can set you up for success.
Learn How to Delegate
Lots of people like to think they can handle everything themselves, but learning how to delegate can help keep you from feeling overwhelmed. Are you short on time? There is no shame in asking your spouse or partner to go to the post office or help with the grocery shopping.
Adult learners who have teenagers can ask their kids to help prepare dinners once or twice a week. If your teen’s cooking prowess maxes out at microwaving pizza or fixing boxed macaroni and cheese, you can always ask him or her to help prep the food for meals. Prepping doesn’t need to be complicated; in some cases, it can be as simple as chopping vegetables or helping to prepare fresh salads.
Younger children can also be asked to help out around the house in various ways, such as by walking the family pet, tidying the living room, taking out the trash, or starting a load of laundry. Learning how to delegate will not only help add much needed time to your schedule, it can also help teach your children responsibility.
Make a Schedule (and Stick to It)
A common trait of highly organized people is that they do not waste time. Have you ever heard the saying “a place for everything and everything in its place”? You can think of time and task management in the same way.
Creating (and sticking to) a schedule will not only help keep you from feeling swamped, it can help you stay on top of each day’s high-priority task items. Sticking to a schedule may also help ward off procrastination, which can help you feel less pressed for time.
Know That There’s an App for That
If you like the idea of becoming more organized, but you’re not quite sure where to start, the good news is that there are lots of apps for that.
For example, Todoist has been designed to help users keep track of their tasks. In addition to capturing and organizing your different to-do lists, such as for work deadlines, homework deadlines, and household responsibilities, it can also delegate tasks to other project collaborators. Apps such as PocketLife calendar can be synced across iCloud, Yahoo, Outlook, and Google, so you can view multiple calendars in the same place. Other apps, such as GrubHub and Instacart, can be an essential lifeline when you can’t find time to make dinner or get to the store.
Use Lists for Everything
Creating and keeping multiple lists can help busy adults stay organized. For example, creating to-do lists for work tasks can help keep deadlines from sneaking up on you. Making lists for grocery and household items can also help ensure that nothing gets forgotten. (No one likes getting home from a trip to the market only to realize that a crucial item didn’t make it into the cart.)
Daily to-do lists, which may include everything from “complete assignment X” to “spend quality time with the family” can also help busy adults navigate their days.
Don’t Let Little Things Pile Up
Time management experts often discuss the benefits of something known as the two-minute rule. Namely, if a task can be completed in under two minutes, do it immediately. The two-minute rule is extremely beneficial because it can help keep a variety of tasks from piling up.
Examples of things that can be accomplished in under two minutes include starting the laundry, taking out the trash, doing the dishes, organizing items you’ll need for work or school the following day, and making sure your vehicle has enough gas. The last item is important in case you find yourself running late, as it will prevent you from needing to stop and refuel when you’re already pressed for time.
Strive to Stay Organized
The team at Maryville would like to commend all adult learners for adding another important task (completing a college degree) to their already busy schedules. We understand that even the most organized adults can feel overwhelmed from time to time. You are not alone — there are lots of you who are being brave together. The best way to prevail is to find time to make lists, set a schedule, and learn to delegate. Doing what you need to do to settle into your work-life-family balance groove can help you keep all your tasks on track.
Calendar, “Have a Lot on Your Plate? Here’s How to Organize Your Schedule”
Christina Tiplea, “7 Tips to Stay Organized When Life Is Busy”
Elle, “How to Stay Organized, According to 11 Really, Really Busy Women”
Lifehack, “15 Best Organization Apps to Boost Your Productivity in 2020”
Lifehack, “How to Organize Your Life, 10 Habits of Really Organized People”
O, The Oprah Magazine, “The Best Organization Apps to Simplify Your Life”