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Hi friends! In lieu of the fall semester starting up in a few weeks, I wanted to share some of the ways I use my planner to prepare and make my life easier and more organized during the semester.
So first off, let me begin by saying I have used a planner since I was 15 years old. I LOVE using a planner, over any other method of organization. I have tried to switch to a Google Calendar, iPhone Calendar, Outlook Calendar, etc and I have ALWAYS come back to using my colorful, post-it note filled, planner with a ton of mark-outs and scribbled notes filling the margins.
Choose the Right Planner
You want to make sure you start out by choosing the right planner for what you have to plan. Between my online MBA classes, work, and blogging, I usually have multiple things going on each day, so I like planners that not only have a full calendar for each month, but also a breakdown of the weeks in the month as well. They don’t have the same one for sale I use now since it’s a 2017-2018 one, but here is another planner (actually probably the one I’m going to buy for next year!) from the same company as mine, Rifle Paper Co!
I personally like this planner because it:
a) Has a hard back. I hate planners that are flimsy, because you can’t write while standing if you need to!
b) It has a hard spine that covers the spirals. I keep my planner in my purse, which is a little similar to the Fire Swamp for all my Princess Bride fans out there… never know what you might find in there. So if the spirals are exposed, they get caught on all the pens, hairbrushes, etc that are floating around in the bottom of my purse, and therefore tend to bend. The hard spine covering the spirals prevents this!
c) It is broken down by both months and individual weeks so it makes it easier to write your detailed tasks for each day.
Be Prepared with the 3 P’s
Post-it notes. Pens. Paper clips.
Making sure you have these in your planner so you can use them whenever you need to make a note or clip an appointment card to your calendar is SO important! I use these things every single day. I can’t tell you how many times someone is on a call and needs to write down a date or number or something to remember and they have NOTHING to write with or on.
*Cue Carrington swooping in with her 3 P’s of justice and saving the day*
I guess you could say these things are like my utility belt. And what is Batman without his utility belt?
Okay well still pretty cool actually, BUT he’s a whole lot more prepared to face the Green Lantern if he has his utility belt!!
Anyways, these really do make it a whole lot easier to plan and stay organized. I always find it easiest to tape the post-it notes in the front of my planner so they are always within close reach when I’m trying to write or plan something out. As far as the paper clips go, I just make sure to have about 5 or 6 clipped on to some of the back pages of my planner so I will know where they are when I need them.
Record Dates as SOON as You Get Them
This tip is probably the MOST important one I can give you. Waiting to write down dates or appointments rather than just taking the quick minute to write them down as you find out you have them is one of the biggest mistakes I think people make when they get a planner. I have a ton of friends who always try to get started with a planner at the beginning of each semester and within a couple weeks, they have already stopped writing things down.
Now is the PERFECT time to get started with recording your dates for the semester since it’s at the very beginning! Everyone has to find out what works best for them, but what I personally have found to be the most effective method for me each and every semester is to get my syllabi, immediately flip to the tentative calendar schedule posted, and record the dates for assignments due, exams, etc. I do this for EVERY. SINGLE. CLASS.
Yes, it takes some time upfront to sit down and make sure everything is written down and accounted for, but I PROMISE it makes it so much easier throughout the semester.
Color-Code Your Calendar
This is an extra step I take as a way to optimize my planner because it makes it so much easier to know what things are coming up AND it helps you remember your appointments. There are TONS of articles online about highlighting your notes for class and color-coding important information. This is because it helps to not only make that info stick out among the sea of words on the page, but because it also helps the information stick in your mind even after you close your notes.
The same concept applies to your planner! Color-coding helps me to remember my appointments and important dates, and also makes looking at my planner and knowing what I have coming up way easier.
Now, I didn’t list highlighters as something you should always carry in your planner because I don’t usually find myself wanting to color-code my planner while I’m out and about and writing things down in a hurry. I find it’s best to carry them with me either in my backpack, or just keep them at home and color-code my planner when I have free-time at night.
*At the same time I color-code, I also decorate my planner and make it super fun and extra! You don’t have to do this, but I love using things like stickers and Washi tape to decorate and really make my planner mine! 🙂 Here are the stickers I bought from Amazon that I use to decorate mine!*
It’s really up to you with how you decide to color-code your planner, but here is how I organize and color-code mine:
Pink – School assignment due dates/exams
Yellow – Birthdays
Green – Work
Blue – Blogging
Check Your Planner DAILY
Lastly, all that decorating and recording you did to prepare your planner will not do ANY good at all if you don’t actively look at your planner and check to see what it is you need to remember!! I cannot tell you how many people have told me that planners have never worked for them, but when I ask them if they check it every day, they respond with “No,” or “I forget about it,” or “I kept up with it the first week of school…”
Ahhhhhhhhh!!!! It’s so super important to make sure that after you take the time to record everything and color-code your days and decorate it to make it look super freaking awesome, you actually USE the planner for it’s intended use!!
I would highly recommend taking your planner with you WHEREVER you go! I keep mine in my purse all the time and just jot down whenever I have something come up that I need to remember later. This has saved me more times than I can count, and has also helped me become a more organized and put-together person all-around.
I usually start my day out checking my planner and end with updating it and color-coding any new dates or appointments I might have added during the day. This helps me see it one last time before bed to know what I have for the next day, and also helps keep everything organized so I don’t get behind or overwhelmed with the upkeep.
And that’s it friends!! I really do hope this helps you guys with getting your planner ready and starting out the semester feeling more organized and on top of your game!
Let me know what you think of the tips and what works for YOU in the comments below!! 🙂