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How to start life planning

What is Life Planning?  

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash 

To me, life planning is using a planner to organize all aspects of your life, from academic to social to fitness and more! Anything can be tracked in a planner. I got my first life planner my freshman year of high school and have been life planning every day since. As someone who is always busy, and joins way too many extracurriculars, I have found life planning to be a way to calm the chaos in my life and keep track of everything.  

Different Types of Planners

There are many different types of planners to choose from. My favorite planner brand is Erin Condren. Her stationary company is based here in Austin, Texas, and her store is located at The Domain. I love Erin Condren planners for their beautiful covers and their simple, yet colorful layouts on the inside. The planners are also customizable, so you can change colors, add your name, initials, pictures or whatever you’d like! A basic Erin Condren planner goes for about $60, but every year on Black Friday they have a flash sale where all planners are 50% off! Another popular brand is The Happy Planner. Their planners are similar to Erin Condren but are easier to find, as they can be ordered online or bought at Walmart. But really any planner can work for life planning as long as it fits your needs!

There are many things to think about before purchasing your life planner, especially since it’s something you’ll be writing in for an entire year. Spiral or no spiral? As a leftie, a spiral can get really annoying sometimes. How do you want your planner’s layout to be — Daily? Weekly? Monthly? These are all things to consider. My favorite layout is a weekly vertical layout, where each day of the week is divided into 3 sections. I like to think of the sections as morning, afternoon and night.  

Pens, Stickers, Accessories and More!

I like to use planning as a creative outlet by using a variety of different pen colors, handwriting styles, stickers, highlighting and doodles. What I like most about using a physical planner instead of a digital one, is that paper gives you the freedom to write and design whatever you want all over it. My favorite pens for planning are the Paper Mate Flair felt tip pens. These work well with my Erin Condren planner because the paper is thick, like an index card, so I get consistent lines when I use them. For thinner paper, I would recommend ink pens. I like Paper Mate InkJoy pens because of their vibrant colors.

When planning, having different-colored pens is important so you can color code. At the start of each semester, I match each of my classes to a color, and write down all things pertaining to that class in its assigned color. Not only does color coding make your planner look pretty, but it’s proven to make you recall things faster as well.

According to Kwik Learning, “When we color code things we need to remember, it makes it easier for our brain to associate with it. Our brain reads and interprets colors faster than text. Multiple studies have shown that our brain will recognize a shade of color to an assigned task faster than text alone. This means we have a better chance of remembering an appointment if we color code that information.”  

Besides color coding, I like using stickers to add an extra flair to fun events in my planner, or make important events look more eye-catching. For example, I’ll add a little cake sticker to birthdays in my planner or add a sticker that says “important” on a test date. Even though I am in love with Erin Condren’s brand, I think The Happy Planner actually has better stickers, and they are cheaper too. I like to buy The Happy Planner sticker packs that contain over a thousand stickers. My favorite pack is the Essential Planning pack, which includes stickers like “remember to water your plants!” stickers, birthday stickers, bill reminder stickers and habit tracking stickers.  

Lastly, I would say a planning essential is to have some sort of bookmark to keep track of what week you are on. Nothing is more annoying than flipping through your planner trying to find what page you were last on. Personally, I like bookmarks that attach to the spiral in your planner so they don’t fall out.  

So, Why Should I Plan?

Photo by STIL on Unsplash 

I like to think of planning as something more than just keeping track of things you have to do. It’s relaxing, rewarding, calming — it’s what I believe has gotten me to where I am today. When you have everything you need to do written down, you can avoid that feeling of; “Am I missing something?” I like to use my planner as sort of a guide. I can see what I have coming up for however many weeks I am able to plan ahead. 

My favorite time to plan is at night or right before I go to bed. At night, I tend to scramble in my head and worry about all the things I have to do the next day, and the next day, and the day after that, and next week, and next month, and next year and… it gets to be a lot. Especially when I am trying to fall asleep. Planning at night gives me a way to dump all of those due dates and to-do lists out of my head, and when I’m done, I feel so at peace, totally free of that feeling that I am going to forget something.  

With midterms coming up and as the semester starts to get busier, planning can be a tool for you to stay on top of your work and manage your stress!  

My Method of Planning

Photo by Marten Bjork on Unsplash  

Step 1: The first thing I do when planning each week is put down my base schedule. What I mean by this is putting down your weekly schedule of things that are consistent and are not going to change, like my class schedule. 

Photo by Morgan Severson

Step 2: Once I’ve done that, I have a basic outline for my week, and I start to add in due dates, events and stickers.

Photo by Morgan Severson

Step 3: I like to write a little overview of my week on the left side to-do list, listing things by priority of what I need to get done first. If there is something going on for the entire week, I like to write it above the dates at the top of the page, making the words span across the page. 

 Photo by Morgan Severson

Step 4: From there, I use the empty spaces to get an idea of when I am free throughout the week. The empty spaces leave me room to plan things that come up on short notice, so I will write them in the day before or day of, like a trip to the gym!

Photo by Morgan Severson

VOILA! You are all done planning and ready to conquer your week ahead!

Featured Image by Alyssa Lindblom