At the start of 2020, my schedule went like this: wake up, hit snooze, RTS bus app notification, class, coffee break, library, class, clubs, home. Now, it’s more like… wake up, snooze, home, home, home. 

UF may be expanding its in-person classes next semester, but that doesn’t mean we all don’t need a little bit more help in getting our lives together. While some of us may have over 6 months of WFH experience doesn’t mean we aren’t getting better at managing our time and organization. So even if you’re a creative who doesn’t dream in color-coded timelines, these personal (and free!) project management programs will help give the illusion you got your life together.

Google Calendar

So this isn’t technically a project management software, but it’s a worthy program to master. Like all things Google, it’s intuitive and self-explanatory, but with a little bit time investment, you can turn the drab interface into this:

Quick tips from a self-proclaimed Google Calendar Queen:

  • Create different calendars dependent on your needs. For me, I have a work calendar, a school calendar and a workout calendar (which you will noticeably see an absence of in this week’s screenshot…)
  • Create a color-code system for yourself. Pink is for my work meetings, while light green is for school-related tasks, such as homework & class lectures. I even go as far as to add a different color for each class because I like seeing the rainbow.
  • Add people to your calendar — if you’re a micromanager like me who needs to plan her days out the weekend in advance, share your calendar to your utmost comfort. It’s helpful to not have to ask “When are you free?” when they can simply check for themselves.

 

Notion

My newfound favorite tool, I use Notion from work to my personal task management. The personal free plan offers unlimited pages & blocks, sharing with 5 guests, syncing across your devices and attachments up to 5MB in size. I personally use the desktop app daily for taking lecture notes to write down my weekly tasks. Plus, the interface is so cute that I feel motivated to keep updating it. As a long-time physical agenda fan, this has done the impossible and replaced it.

My homepage on the Mac desktop app

You can’t tell me this isn’t so aesthetically pleasing…

Trello

If you prefer a more visual project management tool, Trello is the way to go. The free plan includes unlimited boards and users, 10 team boards, one Power-Up per board, and attachments up to 10MB in size. It’s great not only for personal management but for working on spec work on the side when trying to build up your portfolio. The Kanban-style board is easy on the eye, and you delegate tasks to specific people once everyone is onboarded to the board. 

 

Paymo

Freelancers, this one’s for you. If you’re operating a side hustle while being a student and don’t know how many hours you’re dedicating to your client projects, Paymo’s embedded clocking system allows you not only to keep track of your tasks, but assess how long it takes you to complete them. This will save you time on the backend when invoicing your clients with Paymo’s time reports, and you can reassess what you are charging based on the amount of hours you put into your work (especially if you charge by deliverable and not by hour). Staying organized and making sure you get your rightfully earned coin – what could be better than that?

Monday

Sometimes students get perks, and one being a free Student plan to Monday, a top-rated project management tool. While Monday only offer 14-day free trials, there is a free Student plan if you sign up with your university email. Monday allows you to create multiple boards to break down large tasks (“Apply to 10 internships by January 2021”) into smaller, more manageable tasks (“Apply to MAIP by November 13”). You can set the priorities and timelines per each task and even add other members onto your boards, as well, for group project settings..

 

When it comes to organizing your life, it’s all up to personal preference. Maybe Post-it Notes on your mirror is the way to go, a scribble on the hand, or a fancy spreadsheet. All I know is that amid a world that has proven to be anything but organized, adding some semblance of structure has made my school year that much smoother.