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10 Steps to Creating the Best College Planner

DISCLAIMER: Links included in this article might be affiliate links.

A Bullet Journal is the best way to consolidate your calendar, to-do lists and notes into one personalized system. This blog describes the basics on how to set-up a Bullet Journal for college. 

Photo by Hannah Olinger on Unsplash

1. Pick out a journal

There is no wrong or right journal. Visit your local bookstore or online bookseller and pick out a journal that speaks to you. I often go back and forth between playful and serious designs. I personally prefer lined paper, but you could also pick a journal with blank pages or pages with grid lines.

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2. Table of contents and page numbers

Whether to use a table of contents and page numbers is a personal choice. I’ll be honest. I don’t always add a table of contents or Index. It seems like about every other journal that I start, that I add a table of contents and number the first few pages. I’m not an overly organized person so I rarely stick with numbering the pages for more than a few weeks and I almost never go back and add page numbers to my table of contents. This has never been a problem for me since the notebook is in chronological order. My suggestion would be to try a Table of Contents and page numbers for your first journal. If you like them, keep using them. If not, then don’t stress about it.

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3. The semester section

In this section, break up 2-3 pages into two or three sections per page depending on the size of the notebook. Add one month from the semester to a section. I’d also add the next semester in the last section. In each month’s section, place really important dates or events such as move in or parent’s weekend.

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4. Optional - Semester Goals Section

This section is optional. Later, you will list monthly goals. This section would follow the semester section if you have semester long goals. A semester long goal could include an academic goal such as research, honors, or an independent study project. A semester goal could also include an extra-curricular goal such as rushing a sorority.

5. The monthly calendar

Add the month at the top of the page. On the right-hand side of the lines, right the number of the day and either the name of the day or the first letter of the name of the day. I skip lines between my numbers. When I expect that a month will be particularly busy or if I’m using a smaller journal, I will skip 2 or 3 lines between days. Need help prioritizing competing prioritizes? Check out our story here

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6. Monthly Goals

After my monthly calendar, I write down my monthly goals. Obviously, monthly goals will vary each month. Some examples of possible August goals would be packing for college, moving on campus, renting or purchasing textbooks, attending class, searching for an on-campus job, completing assigned work, and joining an on-campus club.

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7. Daily Entries

In my opinion, this is the section that makes the Bullet Journal format so powerful. For each day, you’ll add a new entry. Under the day, you can add events, tasks (to-do lists), notes, and goals. Exactly the format that you add the information is up to you. Some individuals like to list things by categories (e.g. placing all events together). Other individuals like to list events and then place tasks or notes under the events. I use a mix of the two methods. For busy days, I tend to organize under events. For routine days, I tend to use categories. The name Bullet Journal is based on the idea of using different style bullets (□,╺,⚬) for different categories. If using special bullets helps you, use them.

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8. At the end of the day/month

At the end of the day, week, or month, check off the tasks that you have accomplished. Strikethrough tasks that are no longer relevant. Use arrows to move tasks that have moved to the next day or further in the future. I like to note the new day next to the arrow so I can quickly cross-reference in the future.

9. Repeat Steps 5-8 for the next month

As I near the end of the month, I typically skip ahead a few pages and go ahead and set-up the next Month’s calendar and goals. Normally, this is about a week out so I’ll skip 5-7 pages. If the next month in my semester section is starting to fill up with too much information, I’ll create the next monthly calendar early.

10. Other details

The best feature of the Bullet Journal method is that you have complete freedom to modify the system so that it works for you. Once you start your journal, be sure to make it your own. You may enjoy decorating your journal with stickers or drawings. You might try color coordinating your calendar.

Need More Structure? 

Planner Pads Co. offers a unique system that helps you organize, prioritize and schedule what matters most to you. The pre-printed Planner Pads can be the perfect compromise between a traditional daily calendar and a bullet journal.

If you are looking for more college tips, visit us at our home page here.

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