Setting Up Your Organizational System: Planner Edition

Updated: Sep 9

by Sarah Tibbitts


The beginning of a new school year is a transition which can come with a lot of nervous jitters in normal times—and this year is anything but normal. Whether you’re in person, fully remote, in a learning pod, or any other unique 2020 combination, getting and staying organized will be essential to conquering this school year. With a good system in place, acing your exams and assignments can be the main focus, instead of remembering when they’re due.

If you’re old-fashioned: BUY A PLANNER!! I cannot stress this enough. Use your planner to record due dates of short and long-term projects or tests, as well as daily assignments. At the end of each day, you should be able to glance at your planner and know exactly what assignments you need to do that night, and what else is coming up later in the week that you need to study or prepare for.


If you organize best on your device: Some students work better on their computer or tablet, which is now even easier in our digital COVID age. However, it’s just as important to stay organized even if you don’t prefer the pencil-and- paper method. Use the calendar function on your computer. Most platforms will allow you to color code events and set up automatic reminders. If you know that you tend to procrastinate or forget about assignments, have your device remind you with plenty of time to spare.


Either way:

  • If you have a syllabus, start the semester off by calendaring all the major deadlines for quizzes, test, midterms, and large projects or papers. You can always go back and edit them later, but having these dates in your calendar will allow you to prepare mentally for the flow of the semester.

  • If your teacher has not already created smaller deadlines (for example submitting an annotated bibliography for a project or a rough draft for an essay) consider creating these deadlines for yourself and putting them in your calendar.

  • If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the large list of assignments looming, chunk them out and make sure to prioritize. What are the things you absolutely must get done today, and what would make the load easier tomorrow if you got started on? You can also use your planner or calendar to set aside a given time for each subject or assignment, and make sure to take a quick, refreshing break in between.

  • Put some fun events in your calendar too! When you finally nail that huge exam you’ve been studying for, mark off some time to get ice cream with someone in your quarantine bubble. Stressed about a big homework load? Look at your calendar to remember that next week is a little less, and you have a fun family event or virtual call with friends to look forward to when you finish.


Sarah Tibbitts, a 2020 graduate of The Ohio State University, currently works as a

Social Justice Fellow at Stanford University’s Hillel.

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