Finding your Organizational Planning Style

By Rachel Williams
Distinguished Young Woman of New Mexico for 2011
I have never been one for organization. Occasionally, I would write a sticky note and post it somewhere, or write in my high school issued planner that began to collect dust. To quote one of my favorite bands, The Jonas Brothers, “Oh how the tables have turned.” Now that I’m in college, organization of my weeks and events are essential.

A few weeks ago I was in a training session for Resident Advisors, and the facilitator brought something to my attention that I foolishly hadn’t noticed before: left brain and right brain people need their own specific ways to plan and organize their time effectively.

I’m going to give you a quick run-through of what we did.

First we took this test, and you should too:

Next, after we established if we were left brained, right brained, or a perfect balance of both, we learned the different methods of organization that benefit each type.

Logical Lefties
You left brained people are detail oriented. You believe there is a right and wrong way to do everything, and often the right way to do something is to follow the directions. There is a place for everything and everything is in it its place. You like to assign numbers to things. You like to keep your room clean, usually.

This is what you need:

  • A Planner: Get a planner, whether it is daily or weekly, you need a place to write down your thoughts.
  • Graph Paper: Writing down your ideas or homework on graph paper can soothe your mind because it keep you inside the lines and stay neat.
  • Folders: Buy a folder for every aspect of your life, color coordinated based on importance or time. Definitely have one for school and every one of your classes (or similar classes). When you are old enough to manage your money, have a folder for all of your receipts.
  • Labels: Labels, Labels, Labels! If you feel like you need one of those handy label makers from Office Max, go grab one of those, but if not sticky labels will do the job. Labels will help keep you organized in every aspect of your day. Label your notebooks, label the organization boxes in your room, and even label your drawers if you want!

You will usually stick to one major planner for a long time because you will feel comfortable with it.

Radical Righties
You right brained people are big picture people. You believe in the journey and not the destination, and prefer spontaneity along the way. You often let your emotions guide you rather than logic. There are always many ways to approach a situation and there are two sides to every story for you. If you could classify everything with a color you would. Your room is usually messy (not messy, you just haven’t had time to clean it!)

This is what you need:

  • A Journal: Grab a journal or whip out your laptop and write about your life. Writing down your days or your weeks will be good for you because you can write anything you feel. It doesn’t have to be organized thoughts, which is just what your right-brain dominated mind needs.
  • To-Do list: Get a piece of printer paper or a colorful lined piece of parchment so you can write all of your plans in the same place. Sometimes you need some organization, so having all of your important tasks for the week written down on a paper you can carry with you will be very beneficial.
  • Post-it Notes: Take those sticky little guys and write down everything you need to do on high traffic areas like your mirror or your door. Buy some that are preferably bright colors, so you can see them from a long ways away.

You will often change methods for organization every year or maybe even every month, depending on the situations. You’re mind is always changing.

Those of you that find yourself stuck in limbo between these two, well, you’re just going to have to figure out what works best for you! Take a few examples from both and incorporate them into your life. Use what works and throw out what doesn’t.

If you’re curious as to which side of my brain dominates my world, I’ll have you know that I am right brained, though I was relatively in-between. I let my emotions guide my actions, and though I try to be organized, I’m really not. I am a big picture person. I have post-it notes strewn all about my room, especially when I have a big assignment or event coming up. I keep a planner, which is very helpful, but I don’t always use it.

I hope this helps, especially if you are going into middle school or high school next year! It’s really important that you figure out what organizational style works best for you because you’re going to start getting very busy, you distinguished ladies, you!

Rachel Williams is a college freshman at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, New Mexico majoring in International Studies. Originally from Kirtland, New Mexico, Rachel was a participant in the Distinguished Young Women program and was selected as the Distinguished Young Woman of New Mexico for 2011. Learn more about Rachel here!

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