Planners and Calendars

There are enough planners, calendar systems, and other time management aids to make a student's head spin. You can literally spend hundreds of dollars on time management computer software or on books about time management. However, as a student, you will not need or be able to afford such materials. Some students choose to keep track of their time using basic student planners, while others prefer to jot notes on wall calendars. Be sure to consider all of your options before selecting your own time management strategy.

Office supply stores and your college bookstore sell an array of planners that could be helpful to you. Initially, the variety may seem overwhelming; daily, weekly, monthly, pocket size, desktop, portfolio, and wall-mounted are among the available options. Just look closely at each style and consider how you want to manage your time. A pocket-sized planner, for example, is handy to carry with you, but it does not offer a lot of space to write your plans. Most students choose notebook-size planners that they can take to class along with other books. These planners make it easy to write down the dates of upcoming exams and deadlines as soon as you get the information.

Some college students approach time management overconfidently, thinking that they can keep track of everything in their heads. However, just as it is difficult for a waiter to remember several dinner and drink orders without writing them down, most students cannot succeed in college without documenting assignments, appointments, and other plans.

Your word processing program may provide an alternative to purchasing a planner. It probably has a calendar template you can customize and then print out. You can then post a copy over your desk and put one in your notebook. And if you make a mistake or need to change something about the schedule you've made, you can simply reopen the file, make the adjustment, and print another copy. But if your word processing program does not have a template for a calendar or planner, or the template does not suit your needs, you can use another computer program to create your own. This strategy will allow you to decide how large or small to make the calendar, how many time increments to include, and which fonts and colors work best.

It's important to make your planner visually effective, whether it is a homemade calendar or a store-bought planner. To achieve this, you may want to color-code your schedule or use a highlighter to draw attention to important points. Other ways to personalize your calendar include marking important days with stickers or adhesive tabs, adding countdowns to upcoming holidays or exciting events, or adding photos of friends and family. No matter how you create or customize your planner, the important thing is that you have one, keep it updated, and reference it often.

Your college will provide you with a calendar of each semester or the entire academic year. This calendar may include dates of final exam periods, seasonal and holiday breaks, and other major events at the college, such as Homecoming weekend. If you have chosen to use a planner to manage your time, be sure to mark it with these important college dates right away.

Some students use personal digital assistants (PDAs), which are essentially hand-held computers that store information such as schedules and addresses. Most PDAs offer various functions, including phone, camera, e-mail, and music capabilities. The downside to having all of these extra features is that you may lose sight of what functions you actually need. If you purchase a PDA, make sure it serves your basic needs and can easily be made compatible with your computer. You also need to find one that is durable; your PDA will often be tossed into your backpack, and your back-pack might then be tossed onto the floor. One big advantage of most PDAs is the alarm feature. This function can be used to wake you up, remind you about an upcoming meeting or appointment, or alert you to the approach of a deadline.

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