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You know how much I believe in the power of planning to make school and life easier. Planning is crucial!
It’s no surprise that my free study planner is the #1 download every month. The free PDF download is a great tool, but I heard from many students that you want a physical planner to use. I was excited when Class Tracker reached out to me about their college edition academic planner.
I’m offering my unbiased thoughts on this planner as well as how I would use this planner to maximize productivity.
Quality and Specs
Overall impressions: minimalistic design with fantastic quality
Size & Binding
At 7 inches x 8.5 inches, this college planner falls in the sweet spot for me. There is ample room to write on each page, but it is small and lite enough to throw in a bag and bring with me.
The white spiral binding allows the planner to lay flat, making it easy to write on both pages. I tend to leave my planner on my desk most of the time and find it a perfect size to leave out without taking up all of the surface space.
Both the front and back covers are mid-weight plastic to protect the planner. Behind each poly sheet is a brightly colored, heavy-weight paper stock. You have four color options:
College Planner Versions: Dated vs Undated
There are two versions for college students:
Dated – August 1 to June 30
- pros: less work and dates are 100% accurate, and great if you are ordering in the summer as you prepare for the fall term to begin
- cons: if you are mid-semester there will be wasted pages for dates that have already passed
Undated – Both a semester layout and quarter/trimester
- pros: easy to begin using at any point without any wasted pages.
- cons: you’ll have to write in date numbers yourself
I ordered my copy in August and was already using a yearly planner. I did want to both try it out immediately and also use it long-term after my current planner runs out, so I opted for the Undated version.
I recommend it based on quality, and will also break down how this planner can be used for optimal productivity.
How to Use Class Tracker College Planner
First of all, if you’re interested in this planner you have a general idea how to use a planner. No big surprises!
But if you’re trying to keep up with your online classes, feeling stressed, and hoping a planner will bring you some zen vibes, here’s how to make that happen.
Up first in the Class Tracker planner is a Goals page to outline your big-picture habits and achievements for the year. As the planner says, “research shows that people who write down their goals are 42% more likely to achieve them”.
Spend 30 minutes to clarify and write out your goals!
Then, spend some time mapping out the major milestones for the term. I go into more detail on semester planning here, and I would write in your planner all major assignment dates, holidays, birthdays. Focus on including the things that are unlikely to change, but if doing this for the entire semester feels overwhelming, skip ahead to monthly planning.
At the start of each month, spend a few minutes with the monthly overview outlining personal appointments, birthdays, holidays, and major class assignments. This shouldn’t take more than 15 minutes and is the only way to see what the month ahead really looks like. If you know what is coming it ensures you aren’t caught writing an essay at 3AM because you forgot it was due so soon. Just me?? 🙂
If your month feels overwhelming already, it may be time to strategically say yes (and no) to some commitments. Aligning your priorities with your time helps you get more done. Period.
This is where the bulk of your time will be spent, and where Class Tracker has a benefit over more generic daily planners. Each day has sections for:
- Top 3 daily to-dos
- Quizzes/Exams/Papers/Projects – major assignments you are working towards
- Assignments – daily assignments, readings, etc.
- Daily Plan
You can easily look at the week ahead, see what long-term assignments are upcoming, plan backwards for your daily study needed to prepare, map out any other daily commitments like time for exercise, errands, appointments, and relaxing.
What I love most about this college planner is that there is a specific area for long-term projects. It helps to visualize how long you have until an exam date or project due date, and also provides an area just below to map out the individual activities needed to prepare for the big assessment date. And when your plans fall apart, here is how to bounce back when you’ve fallen behind.
There is where you turn your plans to action!
When you open up your planner for the day, start to think about the flow of your day, travel time, relaxing, and be specific about when you’ll do each item. If your assignment is to read 12 pages, when today will you do that? Before class? After your appointment?
Some like to map out the day in 30 minute blocks of time and be that specific. I find that type of schedule harder to stick with and prefer to create a daily flow. I’ll do my reading, then go to class, and wrap up with errands. It gives me a general flow for the day that I can watch without feeling boxed in.
The biggest mistake in planning is failing to think specifically about your day. It doesn’t matter what your daily approach is (super specific or general flow), only that you are thinking realistically about what you can fit into a single day.
Remember to use the Pomodoro technique to help study in smaller timeframes with planned breaks.
Extras for your Planner from Class Tracker
Feel free to stop here with the college planner review and strategy. You can absolutely use this planner alone for maximum productivity. But what about a little bit of fun and ease-of-use? I love being a little extra!
There are a few planner accessories that can make day-to-day use so much easier. First, let’s look at the two goodies Class Tracker offers:
These make it much easier to flip ahead if you like long-term planning.
Use this to easily open up your planner to the current week.
Planner Goodies from Amazon
If you already have these tabbed sticky notes, they are a great way to add monthly tabs to the planner.
Add some color with these multi-colored fineline pens. I LOVE the quality of these and have used them for 5+ years.
I know it’s not a planner accessory, but I would be lost without my minimal notebook.
I hope this helps you think about the best way to plan for success. If you’ve tried Class Tracker, leave a comment below and let me know what you thought! Are there other planners you would like me to review?