Planners can be a life saver, or they can actually waste time depending on how you use them. Here are some tips to help you select and use the kind that will help you best.
Get a planner that you like to use. Whether it is the one the school gave you, a beat up journal, a pretty planner from staples or a high tech device, pick something that you WILL USE. It needs to be portable and have certain features. I have included a checklist of features. But above all else if it is not used it is worthless.
Consider what kind of person are you:
Do you like high tech or low tech? If you like the techy stuff you might be enthusiastic about using a pda type of planner or using calendar features on your phone. Just think carefully about what features they have and make sure you are not wasting your time getting very involved in setting it up. If you prefer low tech, then consider paper planners, make sure they are easy to enter info and find it again later.
Do you need things to be really visual or do you like things written clearly? If you are the kind of person that learns better from pictures & charts, then consider adding color for different types of events or tasks; add stickers and pictures to help draw your attention to important dates and times. If you prefer written detail than make sure the planner you choose has space to write in the details you will want to capture.
Do you need it to be portable, or can you keep it in one location? If you need portability think about the right size for your needs. Can you add sheets to your binder, do you prefer a separate planner, what size will work for you?
Do you like to go with the crowd, or set your own style? Do you prefer to use the standard issue planner so you are not different – if so make sure you can make it work for your needs, if not insert some extra pages that suit your needs better.
Think about your monthly, weekly and daily planning needs. Each has very different requirements. Think about them separately, there are very few people who like one solution that fits all of these needs. For instance you might like a monthly wall planner for overall visibility but a small bound planner suits you on a weekly and daily basis.
Above all it has to work for you. Try out different systems and refine till you get it right for you.