As you know, I lead a pretty busy lifestyle. Between classes, work, and blogging, it can get a bit hectic sometimes. All of this craziness means that I have to be super organized, or I might end up feeling overwhelmed.
One of the tools that I use to help me stay on top of everything is my planner. Quite honestly, I cannot live without it. I’d be completely lost if I didn’t have one!
I’ve changed the way I use it over the years, but ever since I got to university, I stuck with one way that works for me. I thought I’d share with you how I organize my planner to ensure that I stay organized!
First of all, you need to know that I’m a minimalist when it comes to my planner. I don’t really decorate it and try to keep it neat. I would love to be able to make my planner cute and all, but I just don’t have that much time (and patience) to dedicate to it. Trust me, I’ve tried many times in the past, but I always ended up not going through with my decoration system until the end of the year. So, this year, I decided to be minimalistic and efficient. Organizing my planner needs to be fast and easy, and this method I’m using definitely is! It suits my crazy lifestyle and allows me to keep track of everything.
Second, you should know that I’ve been using the planner my student association provided at the beginning of the school year. It’s just the perfect size to fit inside my school bag, and it has three separations for the three semesters at university. I haven’t received the planner for this year yet, so the pictures featured are from the previous months.
The first thing I see at the beginning of the semester is my class schedule. That’s not something I find particularly helpful, because if I want to see it, I have to constantly go back to the beginning to see what my class schedule is. But I still write it down in case I need it, as well as the room where the class will be held. I tend to use it more at the beginning of the semester, as I’m constantly trying to remember where my classes are, but as the semester goes, I memorize it and don’t need it anymore.
As you can see, I don’t use the monthly spread of my planner. I know a lot of people like that feature in a planner, but frankly, I just don’t really care. I have a calendar that I keep at home on my corkboard to keep track of work days, but that’s about it. I think the fact that the squares are so small could be the reason why I’m not inclined to use the monthly spread. But then again, I’ve never used that feature in any of the planners that I’ve owned before, so maybe that’s not an acceptable explanation.
However, monthly spreads can be a great tool for people who like to see really far ahead. I personally like to focus on a week at a time, but some people like to have an overall view of what their month is going to look like. If you tend to be super busy and want to prepare for crazier times, this is a great feature to use! Highlight important dates or write them in colored pens to make them stand out. That will help you figure out what you should prioritize, and it can help you remember important things (like when tuition is due or when you should register for your classes).
This is where the fun begins. The weekly spreads are, to me, the tie-breaker. It’s what makes me decide whether I like a planner or not. I need to have enough space to write everything from classes to work. The planner I’ve been using this year has been okay, I guess. I have not fallen head over heels for it, but it was functional enough.
At the beginning of each semester, I write my classes schedule throughout the entire weekly spreads of my planner. I like to do it while looking at my syllabus. That way, I can write down exams and assignments, as well as canceled class, as I go. It helps me to get a general idea of what my semester is going to look like. You should also know that I only write in pencil in my planner. I do write the name of my classes with a pen, but that’s it. Everything else has to be written in pencil. That way, if things change throughout the semester, I only have to erase it and report it later. I don’t like when things get messy, and writing in pencil helps me keep my planner neat.
However, I do make sure that important dates, such as exams and assignment deadlines, stand out. How? By highlighting them! I have a sort of color-code that I use to help me remember what’s important. For instance, this summer, exams were highlighted in orange and due dates were pink. I only pick two colors (+ 1 extra for everything that falls into the “other” category) per semester. I like to switch things up every semester, so my color code changes every four months or so. Since I only use two colors, it doesn’t get too confusing. Having only what’s important stand out helps me remain focused and see what needs to be prioritized. This is why I don’t use colored pens.
As for work, I write down my shifts in black ink. My schedule doesn’t change a lot, so writing in ink doesn’t mess things up. It also helps differentiate college work (which is in pencil) from work.
For any “extras”, such as when tuition is due, when to pay my credit card or when to register for classes, I use colored post-it notes. I write in ink on a bright colored post-its notes to really make those things stand out, as they are super important.
How do you organize your planner?