This school year, like last year and an embarrassing number of years before that, is my year, and there’s no better way to keep track of goals, habits and accomplishments than in a planner. They’re catch-alls that keep assignments, random thoughts and, most importantly, my schedule for the day. I couldn’t run my life without it. I’ve got big ideas this year — so big, in fact, that sometimes I get an odd, creeping feeling that my planner has plans for me. In spite of that, there are tons of undeniable benefits to organizing your life in a planner. Here are a few tips for efficient planning. 1) Pick a type of planner. In terms of type of planner, there are a few different avenues of thought. Personally, I subscribe to the bullet journal route, which are hand-drawn planners that emphasize efficiency and minimalism. If you’re like me, though, you’d rather spend time decorating your bujo than doing what’s written in it. Sometimes, it’s even more engaging than what you should be doing! Of course, when you come to, at your desk, and your decorations for the next week’s page are just a smear of blood and some dirt, you really do start to wonder where the time went. I think bullet journals are a great outlet, especially because every week is a new opportunity to express yourself. For example, one week you can be really feeling a fall theme, but the next, for some reason you’re super into detailed maps and schedules of your psych professor’s exact daily routine, specific location at all times and personally identifiable information. The choice is yours — it’s all about total creative freedom. Still, bujos aren’t for everyone. Some prefer planners with months, days and weeks already laid out. These can be good because you can get an idea of your whole year on a glance. For example, the U.Va.-specific ones are great because they have all the football games for the year pre-written for you! This way, when a “to-do” that you don’t quite remember writing appears telling you to take advantage of the football crowd to spy on your RA, you know that you don’t have to waste the weekend before hiding in bushes and peering from behind trash cans. 2) Make plans and stick to them. During particularly crazy weeks, I make it a priority to sit down and detail my day, like where I need to be, what I need to be working on and for how long. This way, during the craze of my day I can rely on my schedule to keep me on track and manage my time. For example, when your planner tells you that you need to get up at 2 a.m., walk to Lefevre and stare into each room through a window for thirty minutes apiece, you can trust that your past self, or whoever wrote that, knows how to manage your time. Trust is key to this type of planning, so even if you’re not really sure why it’s written there and are starting to suspect your planner might be scheming a murder, you should probably listen to it. After all, you probably wrote that when you weren’t so frazzled and exhausted from a long day — you definitely knew what you were talking about. 3) Get specific. A common fallacy for first-time planners is that they don’t break up their time enough — sometimes it’s not enough to set goals for a single day. Breaking up long chunks of time into hours can help make sure certain tasks don’t eat up all your day. Here’s an example of a well-planned day: Draft poli sci paper, 2 hours Study for bio test, 1 ½ hours Break for snack, 1 hour Stare at roommate while they sleep, 3 hours No matter what type of planner you use, it’s almost excessively satisfying to cross everything off the docket at the end of the day. This method helps to make sure you touch on your whole list. Still, there are always going to be those moments when you realize you missed something that you don’t quite remember writing, like steal hallmate’s hair out of trash can, written in cute, curlicue letters with what looks suspiciously like blood. It happens to the best of us, and it just means it’s something to put as a top priority for the next day. I can’t emphasize enough how much using a planner has helped me with time management, efficiency, and organization. Sometimes, I get so focused on getting things done that I forget what I’m even doing it for — or who I am, where I am or why I’m inexplicably standing on O’Hill field, soaking wet, holding a shovel, with no recollection of the past two hours. Happy planning! Gabriella Chu is a Humor Columnist for The Cavalier Daily. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.