Friday, February 27, 2015

Agenda Love

I always had a clear idea of what college would be like and how everything would pan out. and for the most part, I was tragically wrong.  I thought I would move out, for one. I thought my style would change drastically. I thought I'd have a large social circle and maybe meet interesting boys. I thought I'd become a "scholar," I thought I wouldn't cry much, I thought I would stick to nursing, and most frivolous of all, I knew I would have a Lilly Pulitzer agenda. I don't even know where that idea stemmed from. I don't know when I first chanced upon a Lilly planner and decided I needed it, but for the last two or three years, it was on the list.  It's funny how out of all the things I thought would happen, the latter is the only one that actually did, and as ceremoniously as I had imagined. Just picture 18-year old me sitting at a computer, ordering my agenda the first day of pre-orders. And you can just imagine my glee when it arrived.

Even though I've heard Erin Condren planners are better,  I think I'll stick with Lilly forever because they're so darn beautiful and they suit my affinity for floral patterns and little animals prints, both of which are very present in the agenda. And the issue with Erin Condren planners is that I can't find a way to justify paying $50 for a 12-month planner (that doesn't even have floral prints and little animals on it). Granted, $28 might be a tiny bit expensive, but you should consider that it's a 15-month agenda. In fact, I think what I'll do is use my Lilly agenda for the 15 months and then fill in that one planner-less period with a little agenda from May Books because I know they always have an agenda sale for New Years and then it would just be about $8, which sounds decent to me. Plus those ones are cute too. Granted, they're tiny and a tiny bit flimsy, but they're cute. You know, I don't think I could ever go back to having a black and white planner after having had a pretty one.

I wanted to make a post about my agenda, because when I was first deciding how I could organize it, I had a hard time finding really good information in one place. It was all scattered and different and frankly, it took me a good month to actually feel like I knew what I was doing. I figured it would be nice to make a post for students to be able to refer to when they first start using a planner.  And I mean if I'm going to touch the subject, I might as well be thorough. So keep in mind, there will be lots of pictures and it's a bit of a lengthy post.

Continue reading after the jump,

 Before I begin sharing tips, I'm going to tell you a little bit about my agenda. It's the large agenda from Lilly Pulitzer, as I mentioned before.

It has this snazzy little pocket in the front. It's actually double sided, so there's two pockets. On the front side of the pocket I like to store my color-coding key, a list of my school's weekly events, and a miniature class schedule I made on photoshop. I'll probably post about that on here soon. Maybe I'll even make a freebie template another day. I also like to put envelopes I need to mail out and shopping lists in that front pocket. On the back side, as pictured, I like to keep all my stickers. These are just the ones that come in the mail when you donate to different organizations. You can also see the stickers that came with my agenda. They're so cute I almost don't want to use them.

After that, there's a brief history of Lilly along with a two-page collage with the famous quote, "Happiness never goes out of style" on it. It's so darling. After that there's a monthly calendar view of 2015 and 2016, which I've used a bit during Girl Scout planning meetings with my co-leaders. It's nice for when you want to see a bunch of dates at once. Then you have all the monthly calendar views, one after another. I've only used these once. After that, there's a list of Dates to Celebrate. I love this section for writing down birthdays. I'm a huge fan of surprising people on their birthdays, so it's very important to have all those dates in one place. After that there's the yellow party lists. On one side you have a list of all the holidays in pink and yellow, which is SO happy, it makes me excited. On the right you have a section for party planning notes, which I haven't used. Then there's horoscopes. This part is fun to look at when class gets really boring or if you're just waiting for something. I don't know if you know this, but I love horoscopes... and these aren't exactly accurate, but they are pretty, so I love them. Then you have a plethora of notes pages and finally, you're on to the regular planner section.

Each month starts off with a lovely quote and some kind of a gorgeous pattern spread. I'm so in love with next month's floral print. I especially love the colors on this one. After the spread, you'll find the monthly view, and then the weekly view right after.

Now that I've introduced you to my planner, this is going to be the "tips" section of the post. So, when I first started using my planner I found myself going to several different blogs and trying to use all the tips because there was so much information but it wasn't in one place, so I wound up confused and annoyed. Because of that, I ended up researching all over Pinterest to find you guys the best info and have it all posted on here, along with my own personal experience. Actually, it's pretty much all based on my personal experience.

  1. The first thing you need to do is find a set of colorful pens. 
I got these lovely PaperMate InkJoy pens at Office Depot. I was originally planning on finding some fine point pens, but these had more color options and they were on sale, so I got two packages and I love them! I find that with these pens, it's better to have a large variety of colors. You have no idea how badly you'll want more colors. These are so essential in making my planner easy to use as well. There's a system though, and it's not the least bit random. I didn't start doing this until 2014, by the way, so when I first began I found that I couldn't remember what each color stood for, so I got a little index card and wrote down a key (which I still keep in the front pocket of my planner, just in case). Some people prefer to color code theirs by class, but I feel like for me it's been easier sorting them by type. These are my categories :

 -   Orange - meetings / appointments
 -   Red - homework
 -   Pink - Tests / Papers
 -   Purple - Service / Volunterring
 -   Blue - Social Events / Birthdays / Blog Posts
 -   Light blue - Fitness
 -   Green - Taylor Swift (because fangirling is such a big part of my life and I'm not even being ironic)
 -   Black - Misc.

Here's an example of next month, color-coded:

  1. Write down all the assignments for the semester from your syllabi as soon as you get them

In my experience, professors rarely, if ever, change dates so it's better to just have it down ahead of time so that you're better prepared to project when you should have assignments or projects done and to avoid having everything pile up all at once. I've been finding it especially helpful now that I have to finish a ton of assignments before I leave on my trip. I like to write down the assignment the day it will be assigned and in parenthesis when it will be due. I also do this in the weekly view. I got a bit of a late start and didn't write down all the dates until the last week of January, so that's why there's nothing on the days that I'll be gone. I already knew I was leaving. Here's another example of a monthly view:

  1. when you're using the pink or red pens, also write the class abbreviation along with it.
For example, if I have a project due for my psychology class, I put "PSY" before listing the assignment. I like to do this in both the monthly view, as you can see, and in the weekly view in order to avoid confusion and make my planner easier to understand when I'm just quickly glancing at it. Honestly, the only difference between what I write on the monthly view and the weekly view is that I tend to shorten the listing to 1 -3 key words on the monthly calendar, but I write everything down exactly how it is on the syllabus in the weekly view.

  1. You're going to want to get a highlighter to cross things off with.
When I was little, I loved check marks, for whatever reason, and it wasn't until I was in high school that I realized crossing off was better because it made it more obvious that I had completed a task, which was more satisfying. However, the black lines covering everything looked messy and you don't want to make your beautiful planner ugly, now do you? And it's not like the thick black lines made it any easier to go back and see when I did certain projects. That's why I switched to crossing things off with a highlighter. Plus it looks nice and colorful.

  1. Write down all the things that aren't school-related under the things for school.
I've found that it's better to separate your school work from your other projects in the weekly section. Ideally, in the calendar view I'd have everything in chronological order, but more often than not I just write things down as they're assigned. In the weekly view, however, I like to write down all the school things directly under the date in the day's section and all other things in chronological order in the bottom lines of the day. This helps me prioritize on school days. On days when there isn't school or on weekends, I just list everything from the top. If it's a weekday and I have to cancel something to make more time, I'll usually take something off of my non-school list, particularly if it falls between 1-5pm because that's when I'm most productive with homework and leaving the house just feels like a waste of time. At this point I'm also going to address the importance of writing down absolutely everything, within reason. Usually, even if I believe I'll remember something, I still write it down. However, I've also seen that advice taken to an extreme with those who write down literally everything, like exactly what time they'll wake up and how much time they'll have to eat and I guess it works great for them, but for me that would be a little too stressful. Planners are supposed to make your life easier, not the other way around.

  1. Sticky notes are also a must have

You're going to want to get the regular ones and the little thin strips. I got two packs of the thin ones, one all pink, and one bright color set. I find that I use pink the most, then orange, green, and yellow, and last of all blue, which I've only used 3 or 4 times. So probably don't get a multi-color pack unless you love every single color! Now you're probably wondering what I do with them. So the thin ones are just my page-markers for the week. While Lilly agendas do have laminated tabs for the months, the individual weeks don't have tabs, so I find it helpful to put a thin sticky on the center top of the right page of the week we're in. If you want to be frugal, you can always reuse the sticky notes two or three weeks before they wear out. As for the big stickies, those serve multiple purposes. If it's a particularly busy week, I like to place it on the Sunday square and write a homework plan on it. You can see an example of that above. Basically, I just break down how much homework I'll do each do and I kind of give myself a general idea of when. The L stands for "lunch" and the AS stands for "After school," which was actually after work for me at the time. Otherwise, I like using the sticky notes for to-do lists, grocery shopping lists, or if I need to remind myself of something pertinent. It's especially good for that since I look at my planner so often, I can make sure I'll definitely see it again. And I carry sticky notes with me all the time, so that's helpful.

Well, I hope you liked my little guide to organizing your planner. I'll probably repost this again when Lilly agendas go on presale this summer for the next school year. If you want more information or ideas,  when I first started organizing my planner, I found Dorothy from Prep in Your Step's guide the most helpful of all the ones I found on Pinterest. She even has a lovely video to go along with it!

Have a lovely weekend! If you have any questions, feel free to shoot me an email.

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