You’ve heard it before and you’ll hear it again – its all good and well buying a fancy and expensive planner but if you don’t use it all the time and in the right way it is not going to benefit you in the slightest!
I am guilty of this myself and have bought many a planner in the past that has sat in a drawer collecting dust or has been in my bag but not actually helped me plan for success at all.
In fact, just last year when I was working full time I convinced myself I needed a planner when in reality my iPhone calendar was plenty considering my schedule.
However, now that I am about to be a university student (eek!) I need to get back on the planning bandwagon. I am a pen and paper gal through and through for anything more than a few weekend events so I went on the hunt for the perfect planner and put some time and effort into setting it up so that it will benefit me the most at Uni.
I haven’t actually started my course yet so the specifics of how I plan could change but for now, I have planned my induction week as an example.
So without further ado – here is how I plan on planning!
Step 1 – Find the perfect planner for you
I added the for you on that subtitle because there are many a perfect planner out there. But are they perfect for you?
I absolutely adore the American massive planners that are like 50 dollars (like the Emily Ley simplified planner and the Erin Condren Life Planner) but they aren’t perfect for me for a few reasons – one being that I don’t have 50 dollars to spend on a planner!
I needed a planner that was portable, wouldn’t break the bank and had a section for me to write down due dates and uni work as well as my shifts at my part time job. I looked online and found a few I liked but again a lot of them were American and honestly I didn’t want to pay for shipping so I had a wander around the stationery shops.
I tried all the classics, WHSmith, Paperchase and even my new favourite stationery shop Typo (which I just discovered and have fallen in love with btw) and nothing ticked all those boxes for me. Feeling deflated I tried my last port of call – Homesense. And I’m glad because I found my perfect planner for just £9.99!
It has 18 months in it with monthly and weekly spreads as well as a place to write to-do’s and reminders for each week!
Step 2 – Put all the important dates in it
This is where you can feel like you have your whole life together and feel really organised. And it’s also where a lot of people fill these dates in and then put the planner away never to see the light of day again.
Go through your year and put down all the important dates, birthdays, holidays, appointments, everything.
This is one of the things I really love doing, and as I am a certified nerd I’m really excited to get my course overview for Uni and pop in all my due dates and things on the monthly and weekly views in my planner.
My number one tip here would be to ensure you put these dates in both the monthly overviews as well as on the days that the events actually take place. That way you don’t get any nasty surprises when you turn the page to see you have a really important event that day you forgot about.
Step 3 – Devise a system
This is possibly the most important and most personal step.
I am going to show you my system but it might not necessarily be the right one for you – heck it might not even be right for me, as I said it could change!
Okay so for me I find it ideal to write down my times and places of where I need to be as you can see in the pic below. Because it’s my induction week I’ve written the literal rooms of where I need to be because I don’t know the uni very well yet so I want to remind myself but to be honest when I know where I’m going I’ll probably just put down the name of the class.
I like to highlight the times because this is the most important thing for me to see where I need to be and when. I’m off work for the first week of uni because it’s freshers and I want to enjoy it without worrying about work but when I’m back at work I usually write my shifts at the very bottom of the day as it stops allows studying to still be my main focus for the day.
You’ll notice I’ve left the to-do list section almost blank for each day and that is because I like to sort my to-do lists out on the morning of the day as it allows for flexibility and priorities to shift.
Read my post – here – on to-do lists to create the best one!
My plan is, once the semester fully gets underway, to put the important due dates in the reminders section for each week and highlight them so they’re obvious. I’ve heard of the system where you do almost a countdown to the due date on different days so I might try that as well if I’m struggling with procrastination.
Step 4 – Make the most out of special sections
If your planner has any sections for you to plan your budget or your goals USE them.
My planner has a section at the start of every month for me to mark down my goals for the upcoming month and I love it because they say that you are 42% more likely to achieve your goals if you write them down!
And if there are budget pages in your planner that is great as well as you need to know where you’re spending your money – especially if you’re trying to save like so many of us.
These pages are in your planner so you might as well make use of them – especially when they’re as useful as they are!
Step 5 – USE IT
As I said so many people buy a planner at this time of the year with the best intentions but when it actually comes to it they never use it or they use it very sporadically and that is why planning doesn’t work for them. So make sure you use it to write down every due date and every commitment so that nothing can slip through. It’s also really useful so that you don’t overbook yourself.
On the other hand – planning should help you get stuff done, not stop you. If you find yourself spending more time colouring and highlighting your planner than actually getting work done then you need to evaluate your priorities!
And that is how I plan to plan my upcoming year as a student, plus my top tips for making the most out of your planner.