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Simple organizational sytems for your young adults


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For those of you with young adults that live on their own or away at college, what systems do they have in place to keep their lives on track: finances, doctors' appointments, domestic duties, computer and account passwords, and other obligations? 


I am looking for relatively simple solutions that are do-able and not overwhelming for someone with health challenges.


Obviously not everyone organizes their lives in the same way and what works for me, doesn't necessarily work for my older kids, so I am looking for fresh ideas.



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My son and his Dad and I have linked calendars through Google. We can each enter things and they show up on all 3 calendars. We can view them from PC or phone. My son puts his classes, appointments, and work hours on there. He also has a 2nd private calendar that he uses to keep track of when he has tests and homework due. We started experimenting with using this his senior year of high school, and it has worked really well for college, too.




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When I was in college I was responsible for all my own stuff (parents were 100% uninvolved once I turned 18) so I set up the following:


1. Small File Folder - Target has some cardboard and plastic ones with lids, I recommend these for college students since they move frequently. Hanging folders for all financial/school/medical records. Anything important went in there so it wouldn't get lost.


2. Planner - I'm a BIG user of paper planners. Most college bookstores sell a good one for the school that includes the academic calendar. I'd set it up with specific predictable dates at the beginning of the semester. Once I got my syllabi from professors I would put that info in as well. ONLY put in stuff that is actually needing to happen, never 'to do' lists or it becomes unreliable. If it has a due date, put it on the due date, even just for required reading like if a professor says we must have read Ch. 1-3 by Tuesday then Tuesday I would put "Discuss Ch. 1-3" under that class heading. Work schedules, doctor appointments, dates, concerts, anything that is definitely going to happen that day I put down. Maybes and ought-to's I do not or it becomes this big record of what I didn't finish. 


3. Address Book with Folder - I typed up a list of passwords and previous addresses to slip inside my address book. I folded it in half so you couldn't see the words unless you happened to find my address book, open it to the pocket, and slip out the 'blank' folded slip of paper. Innocuous, my address book stayed safely in my apartment so unlikely to be lost/stolen, yet I had all my necessary contact info and passwords there. 


Now I would add that a simple Bullet Journal can be a great place to put to-do lists. I don't use mine as a planner at all, it's simply an indexed to-do list because I need predated planners so I can look ahead. But in college I just had tons of post-it notes all over my desk for to-do's, lol! The journal helps contain and index all that nonsense so I can find it more easily. It would have been especially nice when planning out big projects or job-hunting or something. 

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A big wall calendar where he can easily walk up to it for the due dates, exams, transfers (like to and from vacation) and appointments.  This has to be looked at every morning and transfered to the pocket to-do-list.  It has to be looked at every evening and be updated from the pocket list.  Whiteboard seems to work better for some of my family, paper better for others.


A to-do list in his pocket with anything he wants to do today, anything that must be done today, the stuff from today from the calendar, and anything new that is going to be put on the calendar when he gets home.  Four sections.  Don't mix it all together or it is too confusing.  Things HAVE TO BE CHECKED OFF AS THEY ARE COMPLETED.  Otherwise, he won't look at it often enough and it is too easy to fool oneself about what is on it.  When one piece is filled up, get a new piece.  Or get a new one each day.  This gets coordinated with the big calendar every morning and every night.


Large coloured plastic folders, the expandable kind with a lid that snaps shut.  One for day-to-day finances, like receipts.  One for important papers like birth certificate and passport.  One for more longterm financial stuff, like leases or loan information or tax info.  One is for health stuff.


A binder for school stuff like syllabi and assignments.  Or another folder.


A card box with index cards, one for each important address or account information.  With an index card, things can be looked up easily and can be updated easily.  The day-to-day phone numbers live in people's phones, but it is good to have the important numbers and addresses and passwords on paper.


Lots of stickies for the day-to-day reminders, put in places where it is obvious.  If you need gas, stick one on the steering wheel.  In theory, your pocket list should be sufficient reminder, but somehow, stickies help...


Along with this, we've found some sort of timer essencial (usually on phone).  You set it when you remember that you have to do something in x amount of time, when it gets close.  Or when you need to spend x amount of time doing something.  It lets you forget about the time and concentrate on the task at hand.


We have found that a table with companies, phone numbers, account numbers, and expected monthly bill is helpful.  One could be made for various doctors, with phone, copay, etc., too.  Or these could be put in the file box.  All in a grid feels easy, though.  The sheet lives in the daily finances folder and can be refered to if you need to contact the electric company about your bill, for instance.  If you are paying bills by hand, you can keep stamps in that folder, too, and a calculator, and a pen.


In theory, a lot of this could be done with a computer scheduling system.  We've found the ipad one hard to use.  My husband uses microsoft's outlook but doubles that up with a paper calendar book, the kind where the whole month shows on one page, and finds that everyone crowds around that when any scheduling needs to be done.  Outlook has the advantage that it sync's with other people but it has a whole set of frustrations that goes with it. It isn't a good substitute for that wall calendar and a pocket to-do list, we've found.  Simple is better.  Phones occasionally fall out of pockets into the harbour, taking all their important numbers and calendar stuff with them.  Yes, you can store things in the cloud now, but somehow, that doesn't seem to work really well for us, perhaps because we aren't willing to lower the security level enough to use the apps the way they were designed.





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