The collegiates guide to using a planner.

A more appropriate title may have been: confessions of a compulsive scheduler.

Never in my life have I been one to be completely organized with my life put together. And for the most part – that’s still true. My desk is a mess, my sock drawer is a disaster area, and I can’t tell you how many bobby pins are scattered about this tiny dorm room. But with a quick glance at my planner you would probably try to institutionalize me for an organization compulsion.

I have never really used a planner before. I mean, I’d always had them and sometimes would write my assignments down on a good day, but that was all. This summer right as I was getting ready for school, I bought a five dollar planner from Walmart and haven’t looked back. I have come to depend on my planner and looking at what is planned for my day is one of the first things that I do every morning.

Using a planner doesn't have to be confusing! Check out for guidance on getting your life together with the help of a planner!

I use my planner for 6 main categories:

  • Assignments
  • Test dates
  • Blogging
  • Clubs
  • Social Plans
  • Miscellaneous reminders

My planner has both monthly and weekly pages, so I’m able to see what my entire month is going to look like, but also have a more detailed weekly agenda, as well.

Monthly Planner.

Using a planner doesn't have to be confusing! Check out for guidance on getting your life together with the help of a planner!

Above is just a quick example of what my monthly calendar looks like. To break it down:

  • On the very bottom of date boxes I have blog post ideas – these are tentative and if you look closely you will see a lot of rearranging, crossing out, and arrows. I am very anti-pencil, but I don’t mind scratching things out, so I’m not too worried about the permanentness of pen.
  • On the top of the date box I have weekly meetings that don’t change. So you can see I have belly dancing on Mondays and debate on Tuesdays.
  • You may have noticed that my meetings mentioned above were highlighted in yellow – yellow meetings are things I refuse to miss. I also will highlight meetings in pink, those are events that I want to go to but it won’t be the end of the world if I miss.
  • I highlight due dates for independent assignments in orange, and group projects and exams in blue.
  • Social plans and reminders get jotted down but don’t get highlighted.

I really like my system but you need to make one that works for you. Depending on your class load, your involvement in organizations, and whether you’re employed or not will all factor into how you choose to organize your planner. Some things I recommend keeping in mind are:

  • Consistency – my clubs are always at the top, blog posts at the bottom. With a quick glance I am able to know what my day holds.
  • Highlighting – if you choose a small planner as I did, what you write can run together, highlighting not only separates one obligation from the next, but you  are also able to distinguish importance of your day’s plans.
  • Write it down even if you think you’ll remember. I go to debate and belly dance at the same time every single week, but there are some days where I’m so stressed I can’t even tell you what month it is, much less which day of the week it is. Having it written down guarantees you won’t have any air-headed moments.

Weekly Planner.

Using a planner doesn't have to be confusing! Check out for guidance on getting your life together with the help of a planner!

Above is my weekly planner – which is a little more straight-forward.

  • Every plan goes down in my planner – hanging out with friends, working out, etc.
  • I highlight class related things in pink, as you can see – I had a pretty easy week!
  • Reaching out to people get’s highlighted in yellow – so if I want to email somebody or set up an appointment I make sure to highlight it in my planner.
  • My planner has a wonderful ‘notes’ section on the bottom of every week. It’s nice for jotting down little things. I had a phone number written down, a class I want to take next semester, and a blog pitch idea (that I didn’t end up using!) for Her Campus.

My same advice as above applies here – be consistent, write everything down, and highlight. Those are my best three pieces of advice. As long as you keep up with your planner you will feel your life start falling together. Ever since I effectively started using my planner I have felt much less anxiety, and I am more confident with what my day holds. There is never that nagging, “what am I forgetting?” taunting me, and it’s a great feeling.

Do you use a planner? Are you as religious about it as I am? I would love to hear how you use yours, comment below!

And if you you found this post helpful, it would mean the whole entire world to me if you subscribed and gave me a like on facebook! You guys are the best! Happy Friday and enjoy your weekend!

  • I love this! I was actually just in the middle of writing a post about my planner as I saw this, haha 🙂 I love reading about how other people use their planners! I have like 3 different forms of scheduling to keep me on top of schoolwork and other things.
    Great post 🙂

  • tiffzny

    I think that “Friendship Bracelets Union” on the 24th is a cannot-miss event. 🙂

    • Most definitely! If only you were here at Illinois you could show all of us amateurs up!

  • Meredith Snow

    I bought the exact same planner for this year but in purple haha. It has been really helpful!

    • I was stuck between the pink and the purple! But I love the planner, I am definitely going to repurchase if they make them next year!

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  • These are great tips! I can totally relate to having stuff scattered and stacked up on my desk, and bobby pins are always everywhere! I feel like I always start strong with my planner in the beginning of the semester, and by the end I stop using it. But it is always such a mistake, because I need to have some way to remember everything I need to do. Hopefully this semester I can be more consistent and start using a system like this!

  • Abbie Katrina

    Wow this is some serious organization! I’m getting ready to buy a planner (I’m thinking Lilly) and will need to start implementing some of your tips.

    The Pink Paperdoll

  • tannawings

    You are very very organized, but hinestly this is what makes or breaks a student. I think the more hours you take the more you need this. I will also say for the first year, this would be invaluable.

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  • Vicky Gabb

    It’s so reassuring to find someone else who’s as planner-obsessed as I am, but whose desk is probably about as hectic as mine! Absolutely love my moleskine academic planner, and I think the idea of using it in a consistent way is something I need – all of my weeks seem to have a different style and layout! Thanks for the tip

  • Anna S

    what brand is this? and where can i purchase it??