Chapter 7: Balancing It Out: How to Have Fun and Still be Organized

If I’m being completely honest, I’m the absolute worst at staying organized. Time

management skills? Those don’t exist in my world. I just do things when I remember and hope for the best. At least that’s what I used to do.

My freshman year of college, I was interested in majoring in psychology and took a few psych courses. I noticed through those courses that I fit into some of the definitions of ADHD and further researched it. By my sophomore year, I got the diagnosis and things started to make more sense. Turns out your brain is supposed to think in full proper sentences and people are actually able to sit down for hours and focus while studying? Crazy concept.

Anyways, for the first two years of college I was doing mostly alright with a high GPA, but was always stressed and often procrastinated  things to the last minute. Figuring out how to have fun with my friends and also find time to do homework was nearly impossible. Once  I also got a job, my brain was about to burst.

Every year before the first day of classes, I would buy a planner and swear to myself that I would use it and stay organized. Now, if you also have ADHD, you know what it’s like to have everyone suggest buying a planner only to spend money and never use it after the first week. Every year I would spend a day writing out my week and marking when important dates are in the semester, only to forget about it and never open it again. I’m sure for some people, planners are a great way to stay organized and on top of things, and I definitely recommend it for people to try. It just wasn’t the right fit for me.

I then tried different tips people have given me like adding things to my calendar on my phone and getting notifications. However, I couldn’t even figure out how to set up the notifications on the calendar/reminders and every time I tried I would just end up forgetting all about whatever was planned. If you are a tech savvy person, this is probably the best thing for you, but I’m like an old woman and suck at technology. I do like Google calendar though, my boss uses it for work and that at least keeps some part of my life organized.

Meg and I hanging out before the semester starts

It wasn’t until my junior year when I met my friend Meg till I found out what worked for me. My friend Meg is incredibly organized and even schedules their own naps. I had no idea how they did it until one day they showed me a simple checklist they made on their notes app of things they need to get done before the end of the semester. At first it seemed overwhelming, but then I remembered the trick my old therapist told me to do things day by day.

So with both of those things in mind, I opened my notes app and wrote down the things I needed to get done each day for the last two weeks of the semester and it actually worked! I broke down assignments so I wasn’t overwhelmed telling myself to get the entire thing done in one sitting. For example, I would write “Monday: Create essay outline. Tuesday: Write first two paragraphs. Etc.” This way, they were smaller tasks that led to completion. It also helped that every time I checked something off it was super satisfying, especially to see my list get smaller.

When I started my senior year, I wanted to move from my phone to paper because holding a physical to-do list helps me take things more seriously. So instead of buying a planner, I bought an empty lined journal and every Sunday I write down my tasks for each day of the week. Now I’m extremely organized and capable of finding the time to hang out with friends rather than avoiding work or avoiding my friends till everything is done.

My to-do list from the last two weeks. I do a new color each week to keep things exciting!

It’s also important to remind yourself that some days are better than others. You may have a lot written down to do for the day, but it’s not possible to get everything done every single day. And it is also important to treat yourself and still hang out with your friends, especially if you are feeling stressed and overwhelmed. It is always best to take care of yourself first.


  • I struggled on how to stay organized with school work and having fun
  • I was diagnosed with ADHD but none of the tips people were giving me helped
  • I met my friend Meg and liked the idea of a to-do list
  • I became much more organized and balanced everything out
  • Remember to take care of yourself!

Have a self care day and get 20% off a sweet treat with this coupon and student ID!

By Mia Ilie

Mia Ilie is a student at Pace University, graduating in May 2024 with a degree in Writing and Rhetoric and a focus on publishing. She grew up in Rockland, New York and is currently living in Westchester, New York where she attends school and works at a local bookstore. You can always find her with her nose in a book or screaming to Taylor Swift with her friends.

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