A planner is a highly useful time-management tool that can help you keep your important activities and responsibilities in order. You can use it to create a schedule for all of life’s important (and not-so-important) events, and let it serve as a reminder of important due dates, meetings, and appointments.

As you’ve likely noticed, a wide variety of planners are available to you, from traditional leather-bound journals with gilt edges, to snappy six-ring personal organizers you can customize with various inserts and tabs, to smartphone apps that allow you to keep and share your schedule via the cloud. No matter your preferences, you can probably find something that satisfies your needs.

You may also want to encourage your students to see the value of using a time-management tool on a consistent basis. However, they may not know how to use a planner as a tool to support their success in school; or, they may want to discover other options that may suit their styles and needs more closely. If you want to provide them with an opportunity to gather ideas and share ideas with their peers, try the “My Favorite Planner” class activity, drawn from the Instructor’s Manual for Constance Staley’s FOCUS on College Success, Third Edition:

Materials needed: Students need to bring in their planners, depending on what students use, it might be helpful to have access to a technology-equipped classroomTime: 30 minutes, depending on the size of the groupGoal: To help students see the different kinds of planners and how people in the class are using themAsk students to bring their planners to class and take turns coming to the front of the class, and in two minutes describe why they like the planner (or not). Also, ask students to show what they write in their planners. You might bring in the university planner if one is given out to students during new student orientation, for example, and have forgotten that they have it. These planners are helpful since they include dates that are important on a particular campus. Students may be surprised to see that there are day planners, week at a glance, month at a glance, and ones that combine many features. If students use an electronic tool like Google Calendar, have students demonstrate how they use it. Students must feel comfortable with their planner, and feel that it is helping them. If not, they just won’t use it. (p. 44)

Reference: Cowles, John and Underhile, Ric. 2013. Instructor’s Manual with Test Bank for Constance Staley’s FOCUS on College Success, 3rd Ed. Boston: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.

What time-management tools and strategies do you encourage your students to use? Submit your ideas via the comments section below.