Using a planner is a great way to keep track of your responsibilities. It reminds you what needs to be done while also providing a tangible representation of your progress. There is one caveat, however. You must actually use it for it to work!
The following list is a collection of tips to make using your planner easier and more efficient.
1. Diversify your goals
Often when planners fill up exclusively with daunting tasks like, “read 100 pages for Psych,” “write English paper,” or “finish Chem problem set,” we avoid facing the harsh truth. While it is important to stay accountable for tough responsibilities, that doesn’t mean to leave out the easier ones. With this in mind, make tasks like flossing and making your bed part of your to-do lists. Writing down and checking off simpler tasks that you can control will both instill confidence and develop the habit of using a planner.
If flossing and making your bed is too difficult (no judgement!), try adding some of the following items to your routine:
-clip your fingernails
-have a snack
-call your grandparents
Now that you have some more goals in the mix, take a couple minutes to determine what is the most important: what do I need to do first? Label this item A. Perhaps you’ll have a couple of top priority assignments. Label them both! But before you head off to the library to take a stab at your A list, make a B and C list too. These account for other responsibilities, which, although important, do not need to be handled right away. Identifying primary, secondary, and tertiary levels of importance is a great way to establish and maintain a clear sense of your goals throughout the week.
3. Break it down
I don’t know about you but when I have just the phrase “write paper” jotted in my planner, I tend to put off getting started until the last minute. While the procrastination in my blood is partially to blame, what really throws me off is how vague “write paper” sounds.
The best way to overcome vague prompts is to break down the larger assignment into specific chunks as such:
-spend ten minutes brainstorming assignment –> develop main topics
-transform main topics into outline
-write in topic sentences
Acquiring a procedural understanding of your assignments as such will make completing the tasks less stressful and more manageable. I recommend making these lists on a separate sheet of paper, as your planner will quickly run out of space.