I spent the majority of my undergrad in a way that I imagine is probably fairly common amongst the student body population: Stretched thin and running frantically between multiple jobs, friends, courses and 99 B-line stops. It was an exciting time of constant change, new experiences, new places to see, new people to meet. And while, in hindsight, I wouldn’t change any of those hectic years of juggling, there were a few simple shifts that I made upon entering grad school that have allowed me to find a greater sense of balance in my life as a student. Enter: Day Planner!
Here are the top three benefits I’ve found since I’ve become a Planner devotee:
- It allows me to think less. I no longer spend long awkward stretches of time trying to recall what I have planned for the day and whether I can fit something into my schedule. As a visual learner, having my monthly and weekly schedule all in one place and at my fingertips is immensely simpler than having to first rack my brain, then look through the bottom of my backpack for hints in the form of post-it notes and loose sheets of paper with ominous “Don’t forget to—” reminders scribbled across them, then scan my iCalendar that hasn’t been updated or backed up since 2013. Plus, the act of putting pen to paper and writing things down further cements them in my mind.
- It allows me to worry a lot less. When I was still relying on my brain to schedule and format my week and month and year, I found myself accepting invitations or responsibilities without much thought as to whether they’d actually fit into my life in a cohesive, productive, and healthy way. In other words: I took on too much and then found myself straining to fit everything in. Enter: Burnout. Having a clear idea of the available hours in my week has opened my eyes to how precious my time is, and allowed me to make informed choices as to where I can afford to spend it.
- It reminds me to schedule time for self-care. Another eye-opening shift that came with having a clear idea of the available hours in my week was seeing how little time I devoted to relaxing and recouping. When things got busy, the first things to fall to the side were yoga classes and alone time. This once again led to burnout. When I started treating self-care as equally important to my professional development, I was able to maintain my professional growth without that burnout. I did this by scheduling in “me” time—writing down when I’d be exercising or spending time with friends or by myself, and honouring these commitments as I would my work or school projects. Little-by-little this brings me closer to the balance that I was missing in my undergrad years.
Don’t get me wrong, I spent a lot of years as a yo-yo planner—spending one week arduously detailing my schedule, and then three weeks looking for where I’d left said planner. I remedied this by finding the right format of planner to suit my needs (think size and layout), and committing myself to bringing it with me everywhere. From there, the benefits of having a hardcopy of my schedule with me outweighed any of the perceived nuisances of it.
So here’s to thinking less, worrying less, and remembering to take time for yourself—even during midterms.