Finding the Perfect Planner

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This semester my planner is my best friend. Academic honor societies, a president’s ambassador position, sixteen credit hours of (mostly) language and literature classes, a collaborative blogging project, and sixteen hour work weeks are already crowding out my schedule. Add in the pending fundraisers for my England study abroad trip, and you’ll see that I’m on the edge of insanity. Without the perfect planner, my life would be like a tangled ball of yarn being chased by a rambunctious kitten…. It seems as if most university students are in the same boat, so I decided to come up with four must have “characteristics” (lack of a better word) to look for while searching for your perfect planner.

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The good news is that you don’t have to break your college budget and buy a $40 designer planner. In fact, I found my perfect planner at WalMart for $8. After some thought— there was a cute Studio C planner that had caught my eye—- I decided on one from Mintgreen. The one I chose has a conservative black and gold cover to match my vintage (ish) style; however, the inside offers a nice fun pop of color. Now let us get down to business….

1. A designated schedule page. Look for a planner with a schedule page, one for both fall and spring semesters, to add a bit of sanity to your paper life — hopefully it will carry over to real life. While I pride myself in keeping myself on time, school manages to confuse my internal clock. First of all, I’m an “old” upperclassman (the current sophomore joke) who goes to bed before midnight so I can wake up at an irrational time in the morning. Gone are the days of freshman 3:00 AM trips to IHop. My day starts at 7:30 and follows a fairly strict timeline. Keeping that timeline in my planner gives me a great overview for the semester while also showing me the “What? When? Where?” of my daily life.

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2. Access to a monthly overview. This is rather a given, as most planners have monthly overviews. However, finding one with the right setup in another story. Some are too small. Others are crowded out by cute, nonfunctional designs. Generally look for something with an open layout that allows you to see the entire month and all your upcoming activities. My planner has a handy little “notes” section in the corner, and I use it to highlight important dates or goals. Really, don’t forget about the importance of a monthly overview. This is the place to write down midterm dates, important projects, and all those internship interviews that are flying your way.

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3. Large daily pages. This is where you will live your life, so it’s preferred that an entire seven day week be split between two pages instead of one. This set up gives you enough room to fill the daily sections while allowing you to keep track of your entire school week at once. Before buying this planner, I had purchased a smaller one. My logic at the time was that it wouldn’t take up enough room. However, after a week of my summer World Lit class, I decided that my homework needed much more space. My conclusion was correct — as I’m entering into my first full week of classes, my planner is already overflowing with assignments. Good thing we all love school, right?

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4. An extensive “notes” section. Maybe this is an English major quirk, but I cannot function without having a notebook (like my favorite Markings journal) nearby. It always drives me crazy when planners only have one or two “notes” pages at the back. Mintgreen was wise to include note pages before each month as well as a huge section of them in the back. An entire section for notes! It’s almost as good as notebooks with hidden pockets. Anyhow… before I start losing people with my writer babble, let me point out the practical uses of having a large “notes” section in your planner. First of all, you have a place to keep your general notations together. Maybe it’s just me, but writing bits of information on the back of receipts doesn’t seem like a smart idea… Writing everything down in one place will reduce desk clutter and minimize your chances of misplacing something important. Secondly, you have a backup option if you show up for class without your subject notebook. Goodbye are the days of coning someone out of a sheet of paper.

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Now this isn’t a “must have” thing to look for while planner shopping, but it was one of the selling points for this particular planner….  It has wonderful maps of the world, Europe, and America. Perks for the traveling student— it’s the perfect thing for organizing study abroad tours or spring break road trips. Besides, maps are wonderful….

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What things do you look for while trying to find the perfect planner?

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