Whether you’re in high school or college, a planner is an absolute necessity. Let’s be honest—if you don’t have a glaring reminder that your ten-page paper is due in three weeks, the procrastinator within will reveal itself. Next thing you know, it’s two days before the due date and you’re scrambling to master APA format, analyze a 200-page novel, and craft a catchy title. We all like to think that this would never happen to us (myself included), but it is surprisingly common. Planners not only help to alleviate this completely unnecessary stress, but also allow for prioritizing. Before you know it, you’ll feel refreshed, organized, and ready to tackle whatever is thrown at you next.
An interesting organizational approach to structuring your planner is color-coding. This sounds a bit type-A, I know, but it makes for a neat, easy-to-read outline of your schedule at a quick glance. When I got to college, I bought five different-colored Sharpie pens and reserved one for each class, so that my homework assignments, due dates, etc. for each class were written in my planner in a specific color. Knowing that red meant Biology and blue meant English made a seemingly-packed, busy day flow with greater ease. As soon as your teacher, professor, or advisor assigns something or gives you a due date, write it down. Some students even buy corresponding colored folders to store handouts. Once you associate a course or activity with a color, the days of thumbing through one enormous notebook to find an assignment will be long gone.
Planning out events other than schoolwork also eliminates unnecessary stress. In both high school and college, organizations, clubs, sports and activities will be a part of your daily routine. Knowing what the day will bring, and when, is helpful, especially when written down. If your day seems jam-packed, and you need time to complete an assignment, you’ll know when you’re free and can spare a few hours. Also, if this is written down, you’ll be less likely to waste precious free time and get productive, instead. Use a binder clip or paper clip to mark your current page, so that there won’t be any issues finding your current place in a hurry.
If you need a backup reminder of important dates and times, it may even be helpful to store the information on your planner onto your phone. IPhone apps like Google Calendar and myHomework allow for quick and easy entries of everything from exams to sporting events. Setting alerts is also a nice physical reminder—many students need to hear the sound itself to be reminded of important obligations.
Using an index card system within a planner makes for simpler, less-involved daily organization. On Sunday nights, make an index card for each day of the upcoming week. Leave them on a desk or in your bag for easy access—then, when each day approaches, clip the appropriate card onto the current page of your planner. This way, you won’t be bombarded with a week’s worth of assignments at once, but can still concentrate on what the current day will bring. Crossing off each objective upon completion will ensure that nothing is forgotten, left behind, or partially completed. Don’t cross off until an assignment is finished or turned in, because chances are you may forget to do so if it’s crossed off prematurely.
Planning out your life seems daunting, but saves valuable time. In today’s society, students are constantly on the go, involved with amazing organizations and putting hours upon hours of focus and effort into their work. If this system can save you even the smallest bit of stress and ensure that each day runs smoothly and effectively, then it’ll be worth it.