Early in my career, I heard the phrase “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail” and I’ve clung to those words for dear life over the years. As a student, entrepreneur, full-time employee, and columnist- I wouldn’t accomplish much if I didn’t have a calendar. While I enjoy using my smart phone to make a note of quick thoughts, things to do, appointments, etc., I have found that I still rely on a physical, paper planner! My reason for this is simple. As much as I love technology, I fear losing my phone or experiencing a “glitch” that would cause me to no longer have access to important dates and information. On the other hand, my tried and true paper planner for example, stays in the same place and is always there when I need him. (Yes, my planner has a gender and a name, but that’s another story and a different article!)

My latest planner is a lightweight, spiral Day-Timer that I will be married to for the next year. I can use various parts of my planner for the different hats that I wear. This weekly/monthly planner has the dimensions of a picture frame (8×10) and can actually fit inside my purse! As a student, I have a 2-page monthly calendar, which lists the previous month, current month, and subsequent months in a column on the left side of the page. How easy it for me to make a note of an upcoming assignment or important date that corresponds to my course?

Oh, I am so in love with this planner! It also includes:

  • 8 study tips to that put you in control
  • An A-Z educational reference resource list
  • Pages for degree requirements, course schedule, grades and projects
  • An expense tracker

As an entrepreneur and columnist, I have an open 2-page weekly format with a shaded action list, space for notes and appointments, and library tabbed pages for quick look-up! The reference section with commonly misspelled words, common editorial marks, and the pages in the back of the planner for notes has already come in handy.

Here’s an example of how I’ve used my planner for this upcoming week:

Sunday – article writing (noted in the September weekly/monthly date for the 11th)

Monday – work from 8am-5pm (noted in the weekly format pages); fitness class at 5:30 is listed in the appointment column for Monday’s date

Tuesday – work from 8am-5pm (noted in the weekly format pages); article writing (noted in the September weekly/monthly date for the 13th)

Wednesday – work from 8am-5pm (noted in the weekly format pages); fitness class at 5:30 is listed in the appointment column for Wednesday’s date

Thursday – networking event from 8am-1pm; work from 2pm-6pm; Bible Study from 7pm-8:30pm (all noted in the weekly format pages)

Friday – work from 8am-12pm (noted in the weekly format pages)

Just glancing over my schedule confirms why my planner and I are a match made in heaven.  If your current organizational system doesn’t allow you to accomplish the items on your agenda for any given day, a planner could be the remedy to your challenges.

For some tips on time management, check out this video from Day-Timer Spokesperson Jeff Doubek.

Want to win this awesome planner from Day-Timer? Post a time management tip in the comments section and then be sure you’re following us on Twitter! We’ll choose a winner and make an announcement via Twitter on Friday, September 23rd using the hashtag #TalkNerdy2Me.

Ericka Spradley is the President and Founder of My Next Level. She has many years of leadership experience and her understanding of the multi-faceted leadership realm has provided a level of expertise in human resource management and career growth. Among her significant accomplishments, Ericka has served as Vice President of Professional Development with The National Society of Collegiate Scholars, Strayer University Chapter, she was a columnist for Classroom to Cubicle, an online magazine for college students, and she is currently a Yahoo! Contributor columnist. In addition, her works have been found in Today’s Charlotte Woman and she has also been quoted by The Charlotte Observer.