I’ve always been an avid planner. I was one of those kids in elementary school that actually used the school sanctioned agendas—and enjoyed using them.
As I’ve become older and life’s become more hectic, I’m more reliant on planners now than ever before. That’s not to say, however, that all planners are created equal. I’ve used fantastic planners and some downright abysmal ones. Lucky for you, I’ve compiled a list of my top three favorite planning methods. I enjoyed using all of these, but to each their own, so use this list to figure out which one’s right for you!
- Bullet Journal
The first planner on the list and it isn’t even a planner. I know, "What the heck, Nimra?" But just hear me out.
If you don’t know what a bullet journal is, the official website defines it as “the mindfulness practice disguised as a productivity system.” It’s an alternative to using traditional planners and organizers in which you actually create your own planner. All you need to bullet journal is any old notebook and a pen, and then you can get to work jotting down tasks, organizing your schedule, and putting down, honestly, whatever else you want!
You’ve probably seen some insanely complex bullet journal spreads on Instagram or YouTube and just shook your head in amazement because wow, how do people have the time to make their bullet journal an entire work of art? Isn’t that just twice the work when you can just go and buy an actual planner?
But here’s the thing: you can make your bullet journal as complex or as simple as you want. The point of it is to make your life easier, not harder, so don’t feel pressured to make beautiful spreads that take several hours of time that you, frankly, do not have.
I’ve bullet journaled for about two years consistently, and let me tell you, I was only able to get into it when I simplified it down to its barest structure. My organization consisted of daily to-do lists with journal entries on the same page—insanely simple.
But that’s what’s so awesome about the bullet journal: it’s perfectly customizable! You can create your monthly calendars however you want, if you want to do it all. You can journal your thoughts whenever you want. You can track habits you want to get into and make lists of your favorite movies from this year. The possibilities are endless because it’s all completely up to you.
That much freedom might intimidate you, and if so, then perhaps this isn’t the method for you. But if you find that it’s hard to conform to the structures of traditional planners and that the way you like to organize your days, weeks and months is constantly evolving, the bullet journal might just be your new best friend.
- The Life Planner
For Christmas, my roommate got me a beautiful Life Planner, and I’m obsessed.
There are a million different types to choose from on the creator’s website, but essentially this is just a very pretty traditional planner.
It comes with tabs for each month so you can easily turn to each calendar. It has sections for notes for each month, which are perfect for reflective diary entries or whatever else you may want to jot down. Even better, it comes with monthly, weekly, and daily planning templates, and you can even customize it to your own needs on the website.
What I love about this planner is that it has a plethora of inspirational and motivating quotes spread throughout the entire year. While some of the quotes are definitely cheesy, all serve as important reminders and much needed pick-me-ups when you’re feeling low.
Also, it’s absolutely gorgeous. Having an aesthetically pleasing planner definitely motivates me to actually use it—it’s just too pretty to go to waste.
If you’re looking for a traditional planner that you’ll actually be excited to use, definitely take a look at the Life Planner.
In the past, I’ve been a staunch traditionalist when it comes to planning. I like writing things down with the pen and paper and have never really gotten into utilizing virtual tools or apps for organization. That was until I started using Notion.
Notion advertises itself as “the all-in-one workspace for your notes, tasks, wikis, and databases,” and it’s a pretty solid definition. It’s an online software that you can use through your Web browser and download as an app on both your computer and phone.
You can use Notion for—and I mean this literally—everything. It’s great for notes, for planning, for logs, for journals...for absolutely whatever you need to get organized.
I think of Notion as an online bullet journal. It’s completely customizable to your own tastes and needs and you can make it as simple or as complex as you desire. The cool thing about it is that you can embed subpage within subpage within subpage. Everything you need is just a click away.
I’m using Notion this semester to organize my academic assignments and extracurricular activities, and so far it's been an absolute life saver. You can create spreadsheets, embed files and images, write to-do lists, put a spotlight on quotes, and so much more. I’m still exploring the various functions.
There’s definitely a learning curve when it comes to learning how to use Notion (I recommend this and this video), but once you get the hang of it, it’s an absolute godsend. There are a million templates to choose from, not only from Notion itself but also from other users, which is extremely helpful since creating everything from scratch can be daunting and time consuming.
If you think an online planning platform is more your style, I guarantee that you’re going to fall in love at first sight with Notion.
Well, there you have it—three extremely different, but equally helpful, types of organizers. A lot of figuring out the right planner for you is just trial and error. You might have to try a couple of different methods before finding the one that works for you. But once you do, trust me when I say you’re going to be a lot less stressed and a lot more put together. Happy planning!