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When I was younger, my school made me purchase a planner every year so that we could learn how to be “organized.” What this really meant was a tool so our parents would know what we had assigned for homework. So, I would get a new planner every year, which would only be used for about a month before a third of the class lost theirs. Then it was no longer a sound system and the teacher would reluctantly give up. This was a process that happened almost every year throughout elementary school. 

I think this is where my habit of switching from different types of planners and planning methods originated. I would buy a new planner at the start of every school year, use it for a while before deciding there was a better way for me to remember my tasks, thus leaving most of the pages empty. And I’m sad to say it now, but there were a couple of years where I would also buy one at the start of the new year, thinking, “this year it’s going to be different” and “this planner is what I’ve been looking for all these years.” 

Spoiler alert: it wasn’t. 

The question a lot of my friends asked was, “Why can’t you just remember your assignments or simply write them down?” Yes, that is a valid option and one that works for a lot of people, but I’ve found that my brain is simply not wired like that. I need something I can quickly access and jot down literally anything and everything that comes to my mind because I tend to forget what I have to do more often than not. 

Which, of course, led me to float through various methods of organizing my days and my tasks. I’ve used: 

  • Student organizing apps
  • Apple Calendar 
  • Simple or daily or monthly planners (yes, they are all different types of planners)
  • Bullet Journals 
  • Digital Planners 
  • To-Do lists 
  • Google Calendar 

All of these are amazing options to plan out your day, but your selection definitely depends on the person you are, how you work, and what you need. I think that there are pluses for each of these options, but out of all of these, there are two that have worked the best for me: Google Calendar (+ Google Tasks) and To-Do Lists. 

I like these because even if I switch between these two, there is minimal information transfer. And in some cases, I think switching between these two has really helped me focus on actually doing my work rather than thinking about how to plan it. These are also always the ones that I come back to, no matter how well other things are working for me. 

In the end, I think the process of finding the best way to plan is definitely going to be different for everyone, but once you find something that works, stick to it, don’t try and do something that you are not comfortable with just because it looks cooler (I bullet journaled for so long because I thought it looked nicer, not because it actually helped me be more productive). 

There are so many more options out there, but I also definitely recommend trying the simple to-do list method because it’s simple and pretty effective! Good luck!

Mahati Shastry

Columbia Barnard '24

Mahati is a sophomore at Barnard who is excited to experience the wonder that is NYC. She loves reading, writing, and spending time outdoors. Even though she is just entering the Barnard family, she already feels like she’s at home. Currently, she is undecided but is very interested in political science and human rights. :)
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