I have to admit: I’m a little obsessed with making sure I organize my agenda
But hey, what college student isn’t? Your planner is your #1 tool to help you get organized in college! There are tons of due dates and club meetings and conferences and it’s almost impossible to keep it all straight without a master planner.
However, just owning a planner is not enough to get organized! I learned this one the hard way–I had a planner in my first year of school that was an utterly chaotic mess, and it didn’t help organize my life at all but made me more confused! Luckily, last year I really ironed out my planner strategy and I think I’ve got it pretty much down at this point.
I’m well into my senior year, so it’s going to be more important than ever to make sure that I organize my school and personal life so that I make sure I get everything done.
If I can do it, though, even with being a newlywed who’s still getting used to what it means to take care of a house, you can organize your life, too! Staying on top of things doesn’t need to be difficult–you just need to make sure you stick to it!
So, without further ado, here are my top tips on how I organize my planner to make sure I stay on top of life!
1. I found a planner that works for me
I’m gonna be honest here: aesthetics don’t really matter to me in a planner. I know that some girls love to have gorgeous agendas with flowers and the like, and I think that’s great! I don’t really care all that much, though, and we get free ones from my school that I think are adorable.
I have a few friends at school who use iCalendar religiously, others who swear by printing off monthly calendars for the front of their binders, and others who have a giant dry-erase calendar hanging above their desk. You need to find what works for you! Personally, I need something portable and small so I can have it on me even when I’m not at school since I keep personal life organized in it, as well.
Also consider how many things you have in each day. Do you want one that has daily sheets with hour-by-hour slots for planning, or one that’s a weekly planner? I like weekly planners, since they let you see what you have the entire week ahead of you.
2. Use colours for easy skimming
I use 5 different coloured highlighters for my main categories: 4 for my courses (I’m taking a reduced workload this semester to account for my honours thesis) and 1 for fun things! That way, when I’m looking for what’s due for a specific course, I can just flip through the pages looking for a specific colour and it makes it quite a bit easier to do quickly.
I also make sure to highlight the fun things because I can very easily skip out on having fun in order to get ahead in school. This, though, really isn’t healthy for me psychologically, so highlighting it in bright orange makes it very visible and reminds me of it over and over again so I can’t help but get excited!
3. Use pencil first, then pen
I hate having scratched out items in my planner, so until something is final I always write it in pencil first. That way I can easily erase it and keep my planner crisp and clean! I find that having my organizer as minimal as possible makes my mind feel clearer than if I have a bunch of crossed out entries.
4. Write everything down
I’m not kidding: everything. Might hang out with Jessica on Thursday after chem class? Write it down. Your club is having a potluck dinner and movie night on Monday? Write it down. Yes, you will forget, or you’ll double-book yourself. I even write down when I want to have some “me” time to make sure I don’t fill up my schedule so much that I don’t have time to just be alone or with Connor without any other distractions.
This was my Monday-Wednesday this week (you can tell I’m still hardly busy at all since school just started!), and you can see how I really do write EVERYTHING down! I’m a bit scatterbrained at times, so this helps me make sure I won’t forget.
5. Include food plans in your agenda
I always forget when I need to take the chicken out of the freezer or to give myself enough time to cook dinner. So this year I started putting that in my organizer as well, and it’s worked so much better! I do this every Monday when I make the meal plan for the week so I know exactly what I need for groceries.
Then, I add groceries in a large post-it in that week so I can go to the grocery shop and have my list right there! I actually do this for all lists–if I have to go shopping I just keep track of little things we need in a post-it note in the planner so that whenever I have a chance to go I know that I won’t miss anything.
6. Add the information from your syllabus immediately
As soon as you get your syllabus during syllabus week you should put in the due dates and readings if you want to succeed in your courses! Trust me! And there are some specific steps that I go through to do this:
- Put in assignments on their deadline with the weight that they have
- Make an entry for when you want to start each assignment and each individual part. One for starting, one for rough draft, one for first draft, etc. I tend to do these in pencil so I can re-evaluate when I get about a week before that date and then write in pen a week before.
- Put in the readings for each class on the day of the class that they are supposed to be done by
I don’t tend to plan when I’m going to read each chapter since I tend to do a bit of the chapter at a time, and it just clutters up my agenda too much. Rather, I just need to know when it needs to be finished!
This way, if you stay on track of the information in your planner, you’ll never have to cram for midterms, only review, and will always have your assignments started with plenty of time to ask your professors questions.
7. Use levels in each day of your planner
What I mean by this is figure out where in the day you put each thing.
For me, I put school in the top half of each day of my planner, then fun/misc, and then food is the very last line.
Here’s an example:
This, same as tip #2, makes skimming for items a lot easier. For instance, when I’m trying to see how many nights I’m going to have home this week, I like to be able to just skim the entries in the bottom half of each day instead of trying to weed them out from between everything else.
Staying organized doesn’t have to be hard. It just requires thinking ahead a little bit, which I know all of you are more than capable of!
How do you organize your agenda? Do you keep one? Why or why not?