I survived all of high school without a planner. I started using one and my life changed.
I used to think that using a planner was useless. I thought to myself, Why do I have to write everything down if I could just remember it. Remembering everything usually worked for me, but there were some instances that a friend reminded me about a homework assignment, I saw projects posted on SnapChat, and I didn’t know there was homework until the day it was due. Using a planner would have saved me from these dilemmas, but I didn’t use one.
I started using a planner over the summer, and there have been several improvements in my organization. Based on my experience, I’m listing five reasons why having a planner is a life-saver and game-changer.
5 Top Reasons:
1. You won’t forget what you need to do.
This seems like a no-brainer, but it’s one of the main reasons why you should use a planner. I wanted to be productive over the summer to reduce my workload for the next semester in college. By listing activities that I needed to accomplish, I remembered what I needed to do day-by-day, which helped in cutting my workload.
For example, I needed to accomplish a preparatory chemistry course before the upcoming fall semester. I started doing this prep course three months before it was due. Then, I proceeded to list “CHEM PREP” on my planner every day, which forced me to complete at least three chemistry lessons per day. Because of this, I do not need to cram all of the lessons a week before the prep is due since I spaced out the lessons throughout the summer. This method made me remember what I needed to do every day, which will is extremely important.
2. You can see into the future.
Most, if not, all planners have a general monthly calendar. I use a planner from TUL, and it’s so efficient, cheap and I highly recommend it. A monthly calendar shows all the days in a span of 1–2 pages. An example of one is shown below:
With a monthly calendar, I list all the significant days and deadlines so that I’m aware of it. By writing these dates down, you can work around your schedule and even plan days. For example, if I have a big Calculus exam on January 24th, I would write it down on my calendar so I can see the deadline visually. Then, I would most likely start studying two weeks before the test date, so I would write on January 10th to start studying for Calculus. This strategy works for most activities that have a deadline!
3. You can prioritize what you need to do.
Because you can visually see what you need to do, you can prioritize on what you need to do for the day. For example, I will make a sample list below
- Buy groceries
- Pay rent
- Work out
- Study for Psychology
- Do Calculus Homework
Based on the sample list below, I would most likely pay rent then buy groceries first since I see them as the most urgent activities I need to accomplish. Paying the rent on time would save me money from late-fees and other expenses, so I see this activity as extremely urgent (plus I also need to keep paying if I want to live somewhere). Then, I would buy groceries after paying rent since it sets me up for the entire week (and without groceries, I won’t have food which is an issue.) After accomplishing these urgent activities, I would do my calculus homework next because I would not be able to fully concentrate on studying for psychology since I would be worrying about my calculus homework. Afterward, I would then work out accordingly depending on how much time I have left to study for psychology. If I have to spend more time studying, I will work out for a shorter amount of time.
As seen in the example, I used the strategies of “urgent versus not urgent” and “busy work or not busy work” whenever I plan. If I flag an activity as “urgent,” I try my best to do it over the other activities I need to do (e.g. buying groceries). If flag an activity as “busy work,” I try my best to get it out of the way AFTER I finish the urgent activities (e.g. calculus homework = busy work). Busy work takes away my focus from big tasks (e.g. studying for psychology), so I try to get them out of the way. For me, urgent and busy work usually is the same thing but this strategy might work differently for other people. Try it out!
4. You will save time.
While you write all the things you need to do, it starts to feel like you’re running out of time. Fear not! You’re actually saving time.
By listing the things you need to do, you become more aware of how much time you need to spend to do these things. For instance, if I need to study for an exam and I know it will take me at least two hours, I will only go to the gym for 30 minutes so I can have time for studying. By only going to the gym for 30 minutes, I’m saving time for myself for more important tasks. Additionally, you become more organized, so you spend less time trying to sort things together since you already have your to-do-list written down. For example, instead of figuring out what you need to do for the day (which takes up time), all you need to do is look at your planner and voila! Lastly, by being aware of what you need to do, you can yourself some time since you do not worry about tasks you are missing or activities you need to do that you don’t remember. Not having to worry saves you time that you can use to finish up the things you need to do.
By being organized, you’re saving more time for yourself!
5. You can feel productive.
Do you know that feeling when you cross out something from a to-do-list? Another perk of using a planner is experiencing that feeling of relief mixed proudness. Whenever I cross out an activity, I feel accomplished for the day, which makes me feel more productive. When I feel more productive, I have more energy to finish my to-do-list for the day or whatever I have listed on that planner. This chain reaction is another reason why you need to use a planner.
Wrap it up…
Based on these five reasons, using a planner has made me more productive, organized, and successful in completing my activities for the day. I highly recommend using one for extremely busy people, have a lot of responsibilities (job, parent, studying, pet owners, etc.) since it will keep you organized. Take this from a person who hasn’t used a planner since middle school. (I only used it because we were required to.)
Time to run to your nearest office supplies store!