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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Columbia Barnard chapter.

Everyone has different ways of keeping their life together. Some people maintain a little notebook, some have an agenda with notes, and others write reminders on color-coded sticky notes. I’ve tried keeping a planner many times, but I found myself being inconsistent and forgetting to fill it out. Furthermore, filling out a planner can become a time-consuming task. After many, many attempts, I have finally discovered the keys to maintaining an effective planner. Here are a few tips for successfully keeping an organized and updated planner.

Discover what kind of planner works best for you

The first and most important step is figuring out what kind of planner will be the most effective in keeping you up to date on tasks that you need to complete. For me, since most of my work is set online, using an online planner has helped me keep everything organized and together. I like using Google Sheets (the columns and rows really work for me) because I can switch fonts and fill each cell with a different color which is wonderful. For those who prefer a physical agenda, find yourself a pretty notebook (something you will be excited to write in), some colorful sticky notes and pens, and some stickers. Get excited about decorating your planner! And, if you think both an online and a physical planner can keep you up to date with everything, go for it!


This universal tip can help everyone organize everything from clothes to books, and most definitely events in your planner. If you organize your planner by time of the day, assign each time of the day a different color. Or, if you organize your planner by class, assign each class a different color. Personally, I mark important events with bright colors. I mark sections of time I have to relax with calmer colors. This color-coding system gives me a sense of how intense my day might feel and how much relaxation time I will have. It’s a good idea to fill out your planner the day or night before so you have an idea of what will come tomorrow or in the rest of the week.

Set reminders to fill out your planner

I know this sounds a bit silly considering your planner already holds most of your reminders, but in order to keep track of everything happening in your busy life, it’s important to set aside time for updating your planner. I have found that the end of the day is the best time for me to fill out my planner. Whether it be early morning, in the afternoon, or late at night, remember to continuously update your planner with all of your important meetings and reminders. Set a notification on your phone or somewhere that will remind you when the time comes. Consistency is key!

Be aware if you stop updating your planner

Filling out your planner is an act of self-care. You are setting yourself up for success by dedicating time and care to planning out your day and organizing everything you need to do, and that’s fantastic! Don’t beat yourself up if you skip a day, but pay attention if you stop consistently filling out your planner, because it might indicate that you aren’t taking care of yourself. If this is the case, sit down and make space in your schedule for time for yourself, because you deserve it. Everyone needs some time to relax and get their head back into the game.

Write in motivational and inspirational quotes

You deserve the praise! I know that the week might seem stressful and daunting, but just take it one day at a time. Write in or print out motivational and inspirational quotes that will help you get through times where you feel like everything is a bit heavy. Special quotes from your favorite motivational speaker or role model can light the fire to keep you going. Inspirational stickers can also put that beautiful smile right back on your face. You’ve got this!

Now that you’ve got all of these tips, there’s one last thing you need to remember: make your planner you! Decorate it or design it to be a reflection of yourself and  your dreams and goals. I wish you all the best… happy writing and organizing!

Izabella Lizarazo

Columbia Barnard '24

Izabella is a freshman at Barnard College, often found listening and/or singing along to show tunes or Latin jazz. She's a fan of journaling, organizing, and writing. She is almost always available to go out and talk over a bubble tea or ice cream with friends. Although she is undecided on what her college major will be, Izabella is interested in history, politics, literature, and Spanish and Latin American cultures.