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Learning to Go With the Flow: Tips From an Over-Planner 

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Toronto MU chapter.

While hanging out with my friend the other day, she happened to catch a glimpse of my notes app on my phone. She then told me she wished she could be “as organized as I am.”

I immediately told her she, in fact, does not want to be.

Ever since I’ve had my phone, my notes app has been dedicated to keeping my life on track — but not in a good way! 

What started with a few little notes about upcoming assignments has transformed into an endless series of lists that are becoming over-consuming. From notes like “School To Do” and “Everyday To Do” all the way to “Life To Do,” I’d say every second of my life has become planned out.

Recently, I’ve been seeing a lot of women sharing what their notes look like on social media, often accompanied by a tweet that says something like, “A women’s notes app holds more mystery, intrigue, and truths than any film.” Each post would have funny, random notes consisting of grocery lists and 2 a.m. thoughts that you won’t remember typing the next morning.

Even though I enjoyed watching these — no matter how cute and silly the trend may be — I realized that my notes were the complete opposite and that my experiences didn’t align with the vast majority of those around my age. So, I started to worry. 

It’s not that I think being organized is a bad thing or that I think I need to be like everyone else. I’ve just begun to realize that the stress that comes with planning everything to a T instead of just living life has become less and less worth it. 

Realistically, the “perfect” organization my friend thinks I have may actually be hurting me rather than helping me.

As students, it’s very easy to feel overwhelmed by everything we have going on. Though I’m sure you’ve heard it before, being in university isn’t light work — no matter the program you’re in. Not only do we have to balance deadlines for multiple courses, but there are also weekly discussion posts (WHY!?), in-class assignments at 8 a.m., and random peer reviews that really kick us in the butt.

And if you’re like me, classes are usually followed by commutes to work, where your entire shift is spent worrying about assignments you have due. 

So naturally, as most students do, I found ways to cope with my busy schedule — aka, making my lists.

I thought that if I timed everything out by the hour and kept track of what I had to do, I would be able to maximize my time. Instead, all it did was make me more stressed. 

On top of worrying about only one thing, I was now worrying about almost everything — even non-school-related things. Every time I didn’t complete something when expected, the act of moving it down to my list of tasks for the following day made me feel guilty and lazy. 

Instead of developing what should be a healthy routine, I ended up putting more pressure on getting things done in a timely manner. This made it harder to welcome unpredictability and accept when things didn’t go as planned.

Whether in your notes app or in your head, over-planning can be a huge burden — even when it comes to non-work related events. Done incorrectly, it’s a counterproductive practice that can negatively impact your ability to multitask, manage stress, and navigate relationships. 

That’s why, after lots of contemplation and talking it through with people around me, I’ve been taking new steps to ease my stress. 

Though I still strive to write things down and use my notes app for organization, I realized it’s okay to take things one step at a time.

For starters, I’ve set a two-week limit. Unless an event is of the utmost importance, like an appointment or an interview, anything past two weeks doesn’t get put on my list! I do this because I noticed that the more I added to them and the longer my lists got, the worse I felt. 

I’ve also begun to limit the amount of things I plan per day. Even if I know I have six assignments coming up, it’s impossible to do everything at once. Just because I have to do it doesn’t mean it has to go on my daily list. Learn to prioritize what is due first or what will take longer and save the rest for later. 

Lastly, although social interaction is key to a healthy lifestyle, no matter how bad you feel about cancelling or telling someone you’re busy, just do it. I can’t speak for everyone, but normally you don’t want one of the only enjoyable things about being a student to also stress you out.  

I promise you everyone understands what it’s like to be busy, even if it doesn’t seem like it. 

Even if you have to wait a bit, you can always find a day that works for everyone rather than bending yourself backwards to fit someone else’s schedule. 

So yes, I’m an over-planner, and I always will be, but there are countless ways to work around and avoid the potential negative effects. 

Even though everything I mentioned helped me, take it with a grain of salt. Where my advice may reign true for some, everyone’s situation is different.

No matter how many times I’ve said this — and that’s a lot I’ll say it again. Spend time reflecting on your daily routine, thinking of how you can improve it, and go from there. Trust me when I say you won’t regret it. 

Katarina Zeni

Toronto MU '25

Katarina Zeni is a third-year journalism student at Toronto Metropolitan University. Having grown up in a small town out of the city and since having moved into the GTA, she has come across many different and fascinating stories, and people, in her everyday life. With a background in the arts and a passion for writing, Katarina seeks to use her experiences to highlight all the important moments in the everyday. Whether it’s a script, a poem, a novel, or a news story, she believes there’s always something to be written. Off the record (and off the clock), Katarina can be found watching her favourite 90s romcoms, checking out a new film in the cinema, or cuddling up to her cat Iris with a good book in hand. Follow her journey on Instagram @zenikatarina!