Wednesday, 7 January 2015

How To Use A Student Planner... Seriously

I’m sure if we could have the next seven years of our lives planned out and color-coded we all would. Planners are the lifeline and saving grace to all students. Having a daily agenda is probably the most common and useful system for keeping track of project deadlines and due dates, however they aren’t as easy to use as they might seem. Being an organizational freak that has more color-coded stationary than she can count, I want to show you how tracking your time can be your key to avoiding the procrastination bug.  So what makes a planner really helpful? And what are the best systems for planning? 

First, try mapping out the next three months’ worth of course assignments/readings and extra-curricular activities because seeing what your workload and social calendar will look like in advance will make it easier to make time for last minute commitments. This mapping exercise should also make it easier for you to evenly distribute (or redistribute) your time, for when extra course work pops up. This way you’ll be able to see what readings you might be able to bump to do a week earlier so that you can attend a special event that you just heard about.

Available on Worksheet 
Worksheet is perfect for making customized hourly planners and has options that allow you to choose how many days you’d like to layout (up to a week). Being able to see everything laid out in front of you really does help prevent procrastination, and also has the added benefit of highlighting future events and study breaks that so you feel more optimistic about what’s coming up!  Planning your time out in this way will also let you see if things are looking too crowded in advance, making it easier to consider taking fewer courses this semester or changing your work schedule to allow for more study time.  

Image courtesy of
The new semester is a great time to form new habits that might have been neglected the last semester. Forming a new habit takes 21 days, so these first couple of weeks back is the perfect time to kick bad habits (in exchange for good ones). And how do you do that? By adopting a “Don’t Break The Chain” system! Each day you complete the task that you’ve set out for yourself, you just cross off the day and form a chain of successful days. Be realistic with ambitions though, since it’s easy to get over zealous around the New Year. Keep yourself well rested and healthy while going after those goals and don’t set yourself up for disappointment! 

If keeping a pen and paper agenda or system isn’t your thing then try out some new apps like Evernote, Remember the Milk, Coursemate that sync between all your devices like Google Calendar so all of your due dates are easily accessed. The Momentum app for Google Chrome is another useful app that lets you set a daily goal as well as tasks and is on every new tab, making it difficult to wander off to Reddit or Tumblr as it reminds you of your tasks. 

Give some reflection on the past semesters up’s and down’s –what were your strong points, the less strong points? Work with those aspects and develop a system of organization and motivation that works best for you. The only way to find the best way to progress is to find out what makes you tick, not all the conventional ways of learning or staying organized work for everyone but knowing what works has a huge impact on your success in staying stress free in the future. 

Most importantly: vow to take it easy and keep your thoughts positive and bright. Remember to breathe and smile, because you’ve got this.

About the Author


Hi, I’m Paige! I’m a fourth year student aspiring to become a Conference Interpreter after completing a bachelor of arts in French, Spanish and Japanese. I have a passion for everything cultural and am a total linguistic nerd.
Away from my favorite study spot on campus, you can find me training with the Rowing Team or taking naps wherever possible. I love getting involved on campus and meeting new people so I’m always attending events happening around the University. 

I hope to share stories that highlight student life at the U of A; showcasing the bright and creative minds we have here at the U. I also hope to provide you with helpful tips to improve the time that you spend here on campus.


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