Sunday, December 3, 2017

The College Girl's Ultimate Guide to Adulting + Free Cleaning Checklist!

Hello, beautiful - and welcome back to Blogmas for a post I'm calling "The College Girl's Ultimate Guide to Adulting!"

An alternate title for this guide might be "How to Get (And Keep!) Your Sh*t Together in College," aka "How to Organize Your Life and Avoid Falling Apart Halfway Through the Semester." Because let's face it: if you're anything like me, the sophomore slump (or senioritis or whatever ailment you may face) is getting way. Too. Real. RN.

This post is all about the small daily and weekly actions I perform regularly to keep myself organized and on-track for a successful week. That includes everything from cleaning my room, to staying on top of emails, to filling in my planner and budget on a weekly basis. Plus, stick around to the end and you'll get to print my FREE "adulting checklist!" (Spoiler alert: it has pink pineapples on it!)

So, what are we waiting for? Adult life waits for no one, people!


I hate to be the one to break it to you, but adulting is one of those pesky things you kind of have to practice every day, or else the whole system falls apart. 

Every day, I strive to create as little work for myself at the end of the week by maintaining a fairly clutter-free apartment-slash-inbox. Of course, that doesn't mean I'm a neat freak by nature - au contraire. 

In a perfect world, I would never fall off the cleaning bandwagon, but college life is far from perfect and alas, so am I. So, I like to think of this checklist more as a set of guidelines, rather than a strict set of edicts.

  • Make my bed. Even though this is the simplest daily action, it's the one I miss most frequently. However, there's just something about having a tidy bed that makes the rest of the room look more pulled together, ya know what I mean?
  • Wash and dry dishes. The easiest way to prevent piles of dishes from cluttering your sink is to wash them as soon as you're done using them - or as soon as they've cooled off, if they've just gotten out of the oven or off the stove.
  • Clear clutter. As you'll note on my checklist later, clutter includes not just the surfaces in my room (especially my desk and floor, which tend to pile up with papers and books), but also my schoolbag. I carry a huge tote bag to class, which is handy for stocking up on essentials but not-so-handy for staying clutter-free. So, every night, I try to take a few seconds to toss any littered receipts or gum wrappers that may have found their way into my bag, as well as put away any stray books or assignments for safekeeping.
  • Wipe countertops. I like to keep the Seventh Generation disinfectant wipes close at hand for any kitchen disasters that may ensue. However, just for good measure, I try to remember to wipe up any stray crumbs - yes, because my roommate could get sick, but also because I just like the look of a clean, shiny countertop. What could be wrong with that? :)
  • Touch emails only once. A few years ago, I read about the "one touch rule" for responding to emails and performing other tiny tasks: touch them only once. In other words, don't start writing a draft of an email when you could send your reply right now. Especially in the blogging world, time is of the essence when it comes to responding to business inquiries, freelance opportunities and other important messages. I've personally saved myself so much time and made so much money simply by refusing to waste my time putting too many emails into my Drafts folder! 


How you organize your life on a daily basis is part of a larger puzzle: your weekly organization system. Not to mention that it would be pretty weird and time-consuming to do some tasks on a daily basis - for example, can you imagine doing a small load of laundry every single day? Talk about expensive!

Whenever I skip one of these weekly tasks, it throws off the entire rest of my week. So, I always try to stay on track by checking off each of these tasks before the next week begins.

  • Laundry. Do your laundry, girl! But don't just do it the lazy way: actually separate your lights and darks. If you can afford the extra couple of quarters, it will save you so much anxiety to know that your new red dress won't bleed onto your favorite white sweater. And when it comes to folding and putting away laundry, use the one touch system yet again and put it away as soon as it comes out of the dryer. Not only does this prevent wrinkles from forming, but it prevents piles of laundry from forming on your floor, too! (Take it from someone who knows.)
  • Grocery shopping. I used to do all my grocery shopping on campus until I realized how much money I could save just by taking the train a couple stops over. Now, I shop at the Trader Joe's across from the Prudential Center in Boston, and I couldn't be happier with the prices I'm paying. Two rules of thumb I swear by? Stick to a list, and never go grocery shopping when hungry. Follow these rules and I promise you'll be golden! 
  • Toss expired food. As much as I hate to waste food, you can't stop avocados from browning whenever they feel like it. (Face it, you know I'm right.) So don't just let them rot in the fridge until a mysterious smell starts to form: nip the stink in the bud before it happens by throwing out your food waste (including any leftovers you know you wont eat) on a regular weekly basis.
  • Fill Brita pitcher and ice trays. Sometimes, these items need to be handled more often than on a weekly basis, but if I haven't done them yet this week (i.e. my roommate's been taking care of it, or we've both just been lazy), I always try to step up at least once a week and take on the burden of the Brita. As for all you folks with a fancy fridge and ice maker...know that I envy you. A lot.
  • Update my planner and Google calendar. As a blogger and college student, my Google calendar and my planner make up my ENTIRE life - I kid you not. Every last detail of my life, from what posts I have scheduled this week to what videos I'm making and what assignments I have due, isn't set in stone until I have it in my calendar. So, it's absolutely imperative that I take at least 15 minutes every Sunday night to fill in my appointments for the week - otherwise, they basically just don't exist to me.
  • Set a budget for the week. Personally, I find it easier to budget on a weekly basis than a monthly one because my paychecks are so variable. I have income coming from many different sources (blogging, freelancing, work study), so my income is never quite the same as it was the week before. Therefore, I have to make sure I know what my limits are when it comes to saving, spending and paying off debt. Setting a weekly budget using an app like YNAB or Left to Spend helps me keep track of exactly how much money I can spend until the following week's paycheck arrives in my bank account.

Click to print your free checklist to help you #adult!

(Oh, and don't forget to follow me @haleymarieblog on Pinterest, Instagram and Twitter! Also, keep an eye out for new YouTube videos every Wednesday at The Haley Edit.)