Planning Tips to Start the New Year Right

I find my planner so stress relieving, and so I want to share some of my favourite planning methods with you!

Having a functional planner system that you actually use is one of the best ways to set yourself up for success at the start of a school year or new semester. I find my planner so stress relieving, and so I want to share some of my favourite planning methods with you!

image of a desk with a laptop computer and lots of trinkets on top
my desk and a glimpse of my Notion setup

What type of planner should I use?

This really depends on your needs and preferences. There are three main types of planners, each with pro's and con's:

  1. Online planner system, like Notion - this is my personal preference, as it is highly customizable and allows me to keep everything in one place.
  2. Pre-designed planner book - you can buy these at stores like Indigo and Staples, and they come pre-set with a planning system. If you don't know what you want in a planner, this could be great.
  3. Self-designed bullet journal - this is essentially taking an empty notebook and setting it up as a planner. Like an online planner, it's highly customizable, but it could also end up being a lot of work to maintain. I personally like Leuchtturm notebooks for bullet journaling!

Throughout highschool and university, I have tried out all of these planning methods, and the only one I’ve been able to stick to is my online planner in Notion, but different things work for different people!

What should my planner include?

I believe that all planners should have the following:

  • Monthly calendar-style layouts
  • Spots to put a weekly schedule, with classes and other time-based commitments
  • Spaces for daily or weekly to-do lists (up to your preference, I often like to use both)

Another planning tool I like to use is a master spreadsheet of all my tests and assignments for the term. This helps me keep track of everything, when it's due, and what it is. I’ve included a screenshot of my template. If you are using Notion or another online planner, you might just keep this with your other planning tools, but if you have a physical book you can use Google Sheets or Excel.

screenshot of a spreadsheet detailing assignments for a term. Includes columns for the assignment title, due date, completion status, course, mark, and type of assignment.

I have a great memory, why should I use a planner?

While planners are great for helping you remember what assignments are due, or what events you’ve signed up for, I find them most useful for staying organized in the bigger picture. Being able to look ahead at when my busy weeks will be with school helps me to pace myself in a slower week. I also find myself starting assignments earlier if I can visually see that they’re coming up. 

You don’t HAVE to use a planner, but I find it takes so much of the stress off my shoulders when I use mine regularly and effectively!

Best of luck this winter term!

- Annie

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