Organize Your Life

Jan 212004
Authors: Christiana Nelson

Terri Martinko is organized when her stress levels are low.

But, when it comes to starting a new semester, a new year and a

whole new set of commitments, it’s a different story.

“Let’s just say that there are a lot of piles,” said Martinko, a

junior health and exercise science major.

Piles may not be an unusual desk accessory for college students,

but Kenneth Tremblay, an interior design professor, said that even

if stress makes it more difficult to stay organized, the main issue

is that clutter causes stress.

“One of the things we really need to look at with organization

is that research says that one of the major causes of stress is a

lack of organization,” Tremblay said.

In any organizational task, Tremblay suggests utilizing four


First, prioritize and identify the most important task. Next,

prepare for the task by spending about 10 minutes at the beginning

of each day getting organized and determining necessary tasks.

Then, simplify the task by finding the most effective way to

accomplish the goal. Finally, keep track of what has been

accomplished and what has not been accomplished and analyze the

task to determine how to improve its organization.

“If you’re not organized than you are creating stress and what

should get done, won’t get done,” Tremblay said. “You are not being

as effective as you could be.”

Organizing all aspects of life may not be an easy task, but

there are several areas where some simple improvements are easy to



“I have it all in my head, as scary as that sounds,” said Judson

DuRocher, a senior wildlife biology major.

DuRocher’s organizational method of writing information down is

a practice that Tremblay tends to discourage his students from


“I tell my students the first week of classes that they need to

be attending all of their classes and then review their course

outlines,” Tremblay said. “Then, they need to record all the

important dates in a planner and prepare a study plan for the whole

semester. Obviously this is a hard thing to maintain all semester,

but it gives you something to go off of.”

Heather Spencer, a recent liberal arts graduate, found that

simplicity was the easiest way for her to remain organized during

her college career.

“I had a different color notebook for every class,” Spencer

said. “I tried to keep my book on top of the folder so that

everything was together.”

Still, students like Chris Richling, a senior international

studies major, require numerous resources to maximize their


“I carry everything with me all the time: pens, pencils, books,

folders,” Richling said. “I have to be in a certain mood to study

for certain subjects so I just bring it all.”

Regardless of individual learning styles, Tremblay believes that

something everyone can accomplish to become more effective is to

plan ahead.

“In school, you should keep up with readings and divvy

everything up,” Tremblay said. “If you do your work gradually you

will not be overwhelmed.”


To keep optimum finances for the New Year, people need to be

constantly aware of their expenditures, said Crystal Register, the

lead sales associate at Community First National Bank.

“You need to pay off your credit card every month,” Register

said. “Don’t spend more than you have.”

Although, credit cards can lead to future debt, Judson DuRocher

found out that using an ATM card without a balanced checkbook can

also cause problems.

“I just take money off of it; I don’t balance my checkbook,”

DuRocher said. “One time an energy drink ended up costing me $30

because I bounced a check.”

This is why Register said consumers should be very cautious

about managing their checking account because even a small mistake

can be costly because of bounced checks.

“With a basic checking account the most important thing is to

balance your checkbook to a statement,” Register said. “It is

always a good idea because sometimes there are small fees that you

might not realize and $2 can make a lot of difference.”

Register also suggested overdraft protection, which allows

customers the flexibility to withdraw slightly more money than

their checking account contains without penalty.

Jason Adams, a junior Liberal Arts major, claims that keeping

his finances organized is not difficult.

“You just have to know your income and make a little budget,

whether you write it down or not,” Adams said. “Just stick to your

budget until you get a little bit of savings and then if you want a

‘buck-wild’ week, you can afford it.”

Most importantly, Register said that finances during college can

determine the quality of future investments.

“Do your research,” Register said. “If you establish good credit

when you are in college then you will have lower interest rates

when you get out of college.”


A car may be one of the last places people think of as needing

organization, but as a daily transportation tool, it can be one of

the most important.

Every vehicle should be equipped with certain items that can

ensure safety in case of an emergency, said Biff Barr, assistant

manager of Grease Monkey.

“Jumper cables are good and you should put together safety kits

and little tool kits that have emergency flags, road flares, tools,

a spare belt, an extra jug of antifreeze and wash fluid and a

blanket, especially for here in Colorado,” Barr said.

Heather Spencer said that her 2003 Jetta not only has a first

aid kit and an extra pair of shoes, but also contains items

necessary for contending with bad weather.

“I have extra jackets and a box of granola bars in my car in

case I get stuck somewhere and it is cold outside,” Spencer


Barr said that people should also understand the maintenance

checkups necessary for their vehicles.

An easy way to maintain a healthy car is to talk about potential

problems with a mechanic following oil change appointments, every 3

months or 3,000 miles.

“Most owners’ manuals have a checklist in the back that we can

fill out when we do the work on your car and it helps a lot with

your car’s warranty,” Barr said. “It is important not just to get

your oil changed, but to have your brakes checked, your radiator

flushed and your differential transmission checked because the

fluid in there is just like oil – it breaks down and needs to be



From cleaning the garage to rearranging the kitchen,

organization can turn a house into a home.

“It is so easy to clean your home now,” Tremblay said. “They

have electro-dry mops, so you don’t have to get water everywhere

and closet organizers.”

Jason Adams claims that he not only cleans because it is easy,

but also because it prevents roommate disputes.

“The inside’s clean, pretty neat for five guys,” Adams said. “It

has to be to keep the harmony amongst the roommates.”

Tremblay agrees that a clean home can promote happiness in


“The Soap and Detergent Association did a survey that found that

most people plan on spring cleaning pretty consistently and find

that they get an emotional kick from it,” Tremblay said.

Yet, one of the most important things to remember when

organizing your home is to eliminate clutter, said Cyndi Seidler,

founder/owner of HandyGirl Professional Organizers and a host for

the Organized Living television show.

“You need to look at what you are organizing,” Seidler said.

“Utilize storage containers and make sure that everything has a

home and that it stays in one place.”

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