In college, you’ll learn quickly that your success rides on your organization and time-management skills more than anything.
There’s so much more going on in college than there was in high school. Your assignments will be spread out, you’ll be involved in a lot of activities, and will generally have more to keep track of. Having something to organize your life is crucial to ensuring you’re making the most of your semester.
Using an agenda is a tried and true way to get your life together and keep it together. Everyone organizes differently, but if you’re someone who benefits from writing things down and loves taking the time to plan out their day, getting an agenda for college is the way to go.
Today, I’ll be using my favorite agenda from Ban.Do to show you how to set up and use an agenda during the school year. If you don’t know about Ban.Do, they’re an awesome company that makes school & office supplies super cute and fun. You’ll find everything from agendas to stationary to phone cases on their website. They’re my go-to spot for everything organization related.
Let’s get started!
Choosing Your Agenda
There are so many agendas out there. All you have to do is figure out which best suits your lifestyle. Agendas are definitely something you want to invest in, they may range anywhere from $15 to $65. I chose the Ban.Do planner in Medium because I wanted something a little more heavy duty. There is ample writing space in both the calendar sections and the day-by-day sections. This agenda also comes with tons of notes pages and fun artwork in between. I have a list of my top 7, college-proof agendas that you can’t go wrong with here:
Ban.Do 17 Month Agenda ($20-$32)
Erin Condren’s Life Planner ($55+)
Kate Spade 17 Month Agenda ($30-$40)
Lily Pulitzer Agenda ($18-$30)
If you aren’t sure if you’ll be an avid planner user just yet, I wouldn’t recommend splurging on the $40 or more ones. Test the waters with the lower priced agendas and if you find yourself loving it, graduate to the master agendas.
Creating a System
If you already have your planner, it’s time to create your system. This is how you’ll organize and enter information into your agenda. It’s better to have an idea of how you want to do this before arriving on campus. Instead of fumbling around with your agenda and wasting time trying to get it together during classes, you would already have developed a plan.
Get yourself a good pack of colorful pens. Then, divide up your life into colors. I created a key on the side of the calendar page that shows what’s what. Purple is for academics, pink is for any life reminders like going to the gym or doing laundry, and blue is for any blog stuff that needs to get done. I use the colors only in the calendar page so I can get a bird’s eye view of what I’ll be getting done that month.
If you don’t have colored pens, you can also use a key of symbols to note different categories. For example, a star next to academics, an open circle for life reminders, etc.
Deciding What Goes Where
Your planner will most likely have a month grid, and then pages to write daily events. What are you going to put in each? I summarize events in the grid view and then get more specific in the daily view. For set events, I put what’s happening in the grid, then time and location in the daily view. For classes, I put when the assignment is actually due on the calendar, and then in the daily view I’ll write in the days I actually want to work on the assignment. This goes the same for blogging. I typically only use pencil for daily events so it’s easier to switch them around (e.g. if I decide to work on an assignment on Tuesday instead of Thursday).
Use Cool Stuff
I highly recommend using stickers, washi tape, sticky notes, or any other cool tools to make your agenda pop. It makes being organized fun and motivates me to use it more. I put stickers for huge events that I’m looking forward to, or just to decorate around the place. Ban.Do comes with a set of stickers, but you can find tons at any hobby or stationary store.
Other than blocking assignments and to-do’s there are a few things you should keep in your agenda for convenience. I’m all about working smarter, not harder. Put these things in your notes section or on a piece of paper and keep it in your agenda.
+ Your class schedule (and where their rooms are located)
+ Any daily routines/reminders
+ Classroom resources- class websites, professors’ info and office hours, etc
+ General college resources -location of advisor’s office, medical center, phone # for emergencies, etc
+ Login information- student e-mail, dropbox, anything to do with school (don’t put anything you’d be devastated if someone got a hold of, like your blog login info)
How to Get Ahead
Your agenda is for way more than staying on top of things, you can get ahead with it too. There are a couple ways you can start off your semester ahead, and use the momentum to stay there.
After you make a final decision on which classes you’ll be taking, read through your syllabuses and enter the assignments you’ll have into your planner. This will save so much time in the long run. When you have free time, you’ll be able to see what assignments are coming up and finish them ahead of time.
Update your planner regularly. Sometimes life happens, or your professor happens, and you need to switch things around. Make sure you’re staying on top of events and updating them in your agenda. If you’re like me and hate the idea of having to scratch things out, get yourself some paper tape to cover up stuff that’s no longer happening. You can write over it and the prints are cute so you’ll be decorating your agenda too!
Manage your time well. This seems obvious, but you might be surprised how difficult it can be a few weeks into college. When you’re plotting out your month, make sure your work is divided evenly. There are some weeks where you’ll unavoidably have a ton of work to do. But, for the most part, try to keep yourself balanced. You may start off your semester all motivated and you’ll get so much done purely out of excitement, but you’ll burnout soon if you’re doing too much for too long.
Planning is the key to success. One of my favorite bloggers, Mattie James, always says, “If you’re making real-time decisions, you’re already a day late.” I couldn’t agree with this more from an academic and blogging standpoint. Know what’s coming and you’ll rarely be behind!
Let me know which agenda you’re using and anything special you do with it in the comments!