how my day planner saves me



We made it through the first week of classes! Granted, if you actually work, this third week is nothing spectacular, but what’s important is that it’s still January and now we’re at the point where we’re establishing routines. Now, for me, that’s a really really great thing. I like routines, like their normalcy and stability, even their predictability. What I don’t like is how easily things pile up, and my treasured routine is lost amid last minute cramming sessions, deadlines for work, and dinners with friends.

Before I know it, I’m panicking and exiting out of my research on apartment-friendly hedgehogs, frantic because I’m twenty minutes late to chapter meeting. Whoops. But between working part-time, classes full-time, involvement in clubs and organizations, church, and maintaining your social life (does a Downton Abbey marathon with your best friend for five hours on a Sunday afternoon count?), it’s crazy easy to get overwhelmed. What’s a girl to do?

Four (well, three and a half) years of this college thing have taught me a thing or two about staying organized/on top of the craziness that is college. And the simplest solution? Get a planner. While it might not add hours to your day (ugh, I wish), it can be a pretty good resource to help you keep it all together.

Buy a pretty planner. It sounds a bit shallow, but think about it. Are you really going to enjoy writing things in a day planner that’s the miniature replica of the rest of your nondescript spiral notebooks? If you are, then power to you. As for me, I’ve found that getting a planner that I like to look at—one that makes me smile even as I’m penciling in a finance test—makes all the difference in actually writing things down. This isn’t to say that you have to break the bank for a name brand planner; Barnes & Noble has some of my favorites. I just figure that if you want to get your use out of a planner, you might as well enjoy showing it off.

Color coordinate. Okay yes, not everyone is as Type A as I am, and thank goodness for that, but bear with me on this one. I color code because it helps me keep balanced. Pink for coffee/friends, green for food, black for homework, bright blue for work, etc. That way, I don’t end up going to a basketball game the night before two tests (that’s a mistake you only make once), or scheduling three coffee dates in a row: a quick glance lets you see how  thin you’re spread in each area, and compensate accordingly.

Plan in breaks. This is a big one. You’re going to eat anyways. You’re going to need to get up and walk around after two hours hunched over a keyboard. You’re going to have to do these, and other things, so write them down. I know for me, if I say “study for three hours”, and end up only cracking open a book for 2 hours and a half, I feel like I’m behind, even if the breaks I took were to use the restroom and grab some grapes. So, plan for the little breaks, and study happier.

Drink some green tea. So it’s not exactly about planning, but it’s in the picture, and it helps. Give yourself a second to relax. You’re doing a lot of things, probably running around like crazy and managing just fine. So sip something hot and sweet, breathe in a calming breath, and skip out on the caffeine every now and then.

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