Anyone who knows me personally already knows that I’m a planner freak – my close friends and I geek out every summer, looking at new planners in anticipation for the upcoming academic year. We compare them by style, price, customization options, and how well they fit our personal preferences. Some may think it’s trivial, but I’d strongly disagree; the right planner can make or break my organization, productivity, and stress management during the academic year.
I started using a planner about halfway through 1st year university, and it literally changed everything. I have ultimate brain clutter – I swear my mind is going a mile a minute 24/7, and having somewhere to write everything down settles my mind. However, it has taken tons of trial and error over the years to find planning layouts and methodologies that work best for me. I’ve used simple notebook planners from Chapters, the Passion Planner, Plum Paper Planner, the Bullet Journal… Each one had things I liked and things that weren’t optimal. For example, here’s a picture of my Passion Planner from this past school year – I loved the hourly layout, but the list and note options at the bottom of the page made me feel quite cluttered; they lacked the structure and simplicity I needed for them to be functional (hence the daily to-do lists on sticky notes).
However, enter the Agendio planner, the planner I decided on for this year after much searching and comparing online. This planner changes the game for me, and I can’t wait to try it out this academic year. Not only does it have multiple cover options (including an eco- and ethical-synthetic leather cover, the one I chose), but you can literally customize everything inside. You can customize the fonts, layouts, list sizes and titles, everything. Seriously, check out the planner builder here and see for yourself; I emphasized the importance of a planner to my younger sister when she entered 1st year university last year, and bought her a simple one to start with. After telling her about Agendio, she created and ordered one for herself within a week!
So what kind of customization did I add to my planner?
- An hourly layout, because I love the structure of seeing how full my day is. I write everything in this hourly layout – school and work schedules, but also grocery shopping, training, study time, meal prepping, etc.
- A weekly Sunday start, as opposed to my week starting on a Monday. I like starting a new weekly spread on a Sunday because I can review my upcoming week.
- A top priority list for each day of the week. In 1st year university, I found I best managed my stress and avoided becoming overwhelmed if I outlined the top 3 priorities for the day – if I got more done, then great, but if I was feeling stressed and those were the only 3 things that I could get done, everything else could wait.
- Specific to-do lists for each area of my life that I need to balance during the school year: my academics, work, volunteer, the blog, and personal responsibilities (cleaning, cooking, laundry… you know, adult stuff).
- A “next week” and “next month” section, so I’m not constantly flipping between pages to see what deadlines are fast approaching.
- Goal setting on a weekly and monthly basis, to (hopefully) keep myself accountable for goals in the gym, my health and wellness, and my academics.
- Cleaning checklists on a weekly and monthly basis, because when you live with 4 other students, things can get crazy.
- Habit tracking – this has become a super popular addition to planners and for good reason. It really encourages mindfulness to implement new habits that are valuable to you and your life. Maybe it’s remembering to floss, exercising regularly, or packing a lunch for work/school each night.
- Plus something new I’m trying this year: an accomplishments section. Sometimes in the bustle of life, we forget to reflect on all of the amazing things we accomplish along the way!
Each and every one of these components added so much value to this planner for me – although planners are a bit of an investment depending on which one you choose, it is worth investing in something you’ll use every single day. Personally, having a structured, personalized planner is the ultimate way for me to feel like I have my life in control.
If you’ve never used a planning system before, now’s the time to do it. It is crazy beneficial for your productivity and organization, but also your mental health (AKA it keeps you sane!). However, everyone is different so it’s important to give some thought to what you value, what keeps you organized and grounded, and what fits your lifestyle. Some people find using iCalendar or Google Calendar works best for them, while others prefer the written, pen-to-paper aspect of a physical planner. Even a simple notebook with a to-do list for each day may be helpful. There are tons of planner geeks on the internet – seriously, it’s basically a niche thing online and on social media – so look up some inspiration. You can also do some “trial” planning on blank paper, or find some free planner print-outs to test out – for example, Passion Planner allows you to download free print-outs of their planner layout!
Besides finding a system that works for you, there are also so many ways to make it personalized; I already discussed the different types of lists and organization options that I use in my planner that optimize it for my needs. My planner-geek friends and I are also suckers for awesome pens and markers to color code our commitments and responsibilities (you can see how I used color coding in my Passion Planner up top^). Not only does it help visually see what you have going on in a day, but it’s a great reflection tool: you can look back at the past week/month and see where you spent most of your time based on how much of each color is on the page (AKA monitor your work/life balance!). These are the pens/markers I use, and a few of my friends use as well – but even a couple different colors may do the trick for your needs!
If you end up choosing the Agendio planner, I’d really appreciate it if you used my referral link below! If you purchase a planner through the link, I get a referral bonus put into my account; the more people that use it, the sooner I’ll be able to use that bonus money to offer you guys a free Agendio giveaway! Here is the link: https://agendio.com/referrals-welcome/k2xMPv_1503254342
Talk soon friends!