7 tools I use as a mature student/parent to get things done

Written by Boris Licina

To work, study, raise two kids - a 3- and 6-year-old - and have a life is hard. To be able to balance it all demands a lot of discipline from me and great time management skills. Luckily, there are some exceptional tools that help me do that.  

1. Google Calendar

Google Calendar is the most important tool of all the tools I use. Every event, due date or activity that is happening is added to the calendar, and we wouldn’t be able to survive without it. It allows my family to plan and - more importantly - to set up reminders, which is especially important with non-recurring events, like photo day at my kids' school or CineSiege, the York's School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design student's film showcase. 

2. Google Sheets

“What will we pack kids for lunch tomorrow?” or “What will we have for lunch or dinner?” are common questions in many families - ours as well. To tackle this effectively, we use Google Sheets and document all the meals we love. The key for us is to plan a week; we do that by consulting this spreadsheet and all the recipes we love. Google Sheets can also be used for other lists, like courses you would like to take or assignments you have in a semester. 

3. Post-it Notes

Not all things are equally important, and I learned to prioritize. Post-it Notes are great for that. I write everything on them, put them on the wall, and look at the whole picture. I move them around, depending on what has a bigger priority, and love them because they push me from the digital world into the real one. They are also great because I need to stand when I look at them - to stretch - which is good for my body too. 

Look at the whole picture with Post-it Notes (Photo by Patrick Perkins on Unsplash)

4. eClass

I love eClass, York University's Learning Management System, and I spend a lot of time in it planning things. I am using the eClass calendar to plan my assignments since they are all listed there, and I can see what awaits me in the upcoming weeks and months through the course syllabus. Each course usually shares details about what you will learn, read and watch in the upcoming weeks. It is useful as you can see and start working on stuff early and see everything, including course announcements or outlines. 

5. YMCA Sweat For Good App

For my well-being, the YMCA does miracles. I recently started Yoga classes and am taking my kids to family swim on Saturdays or Sundays. I am scheduling and booking through the YMCA Sweat For Good App, which also tracks my activities or how many steps I did. Yoga, running or swimming time clears my mind, but I also get some of my best ideas for stories or movies when I exercise. 

Pro tip: Get to know Tait McKenzie Centre at York, a spacious, multipurpose sports and recreation facility where you can swim or go to the gym.

6. Asana

Asana is a work management platform I have used in my work for years, and I am using it today for organizing my work and school. The basic version is free, and it is great for individuals. I like Asana because of the board view, where I can move cards from section to section or play with the priorities. What is also important to me is that in each task, I can add subtasks, create follow-up tasks and assign each task to a specific project. It gives my assignments structure. 

7. WhatsApp

I am using all these tools, but unexpected things happen. Often, my partner would send me a message (or the other way around): We don't have milk! Buy on your way home. I use it to send kids' photos to grandparents, read course group chats and get reminders. Clear communication is key to a healthy relationship, and WhatsApp is a great tool that helps with that, even if it is just about milk.