I have used quite a few planners through college and graduate school, but none of the systems I used previously were effective for the mid- to end stages of my PhD degree. The types of tasks and deadlines I needed to track are very different from those I had while working on my Bachelor’s degree, Master’s degree, and early PhD program. While before I had small and defined tasks, and specific deadlines, now I have research and paper ideas, various conferences to consider (I apply to conferences only if my research topic matches the theme of the conference, and if I have something I can write a paper on in time for the deadlines), and teacher assistant tasks. Some of these tasks can be broken down into smaller, list-able tasks. But sometimes, I don’t have enough information or direction to break down a large task/project into smaller tasks – mostly the case for research and paper ideas.
In March 2017, I found and bought The Happy Planner 24 Month Creative Planner Kit for a discounted price (about $30). The deal was too good to turn away from. Only $30 for the following items:
- 2 Sticker packs, totaling of 12 Sticker Sheets
- Three Colorful Pens (black, blue, pink)
- Five Rolls of Washi Tape
- Two List Pads
- Elastic Band with Pen Loop
- Two Pocket Folders
- 20 Sheets of Note Paper
- 20 Sheets of Grid Paper
- 24 months of Monthly and Weekly Planning Pages
I quickly realized that this planner’s format worked well for me to plan the remaining of my PhD degree; specifically because:
- The small monthly quick-view can be used to remind myself of nearing deadlines or events, and how much time I have until I reach them.
- The sidebar allows me to list and remember what I want to accomplish that week, deadlines, and/or ideas.
- The amount of space is just right – not too much and not too little. I can realistically only work on 2 – 4 research items, and maybe 2 – 4 other tasks in a day. The size of the sections allows me to list what I think I can accomplish, plus 1 or 2 more items to strive to get more done.
- I typically use the three daily sections for research, other tasks (this includes teacher assistant and personal tasks), and body/health reminders. I can and sometimes do change these sections, as needed. In my pictures, you will notice I sometimes label them, but not always if I don’t have the time.
- I noticed I don’t always color in the body/health reminders, because these things need to be done throughout the day but I only look at my planner a few times in a day. I have considered not using them at all, since I am not consistent in coloring them and they take time to set up. But, I found that having them do help me drink more water, for instance, even if I don’t actually color in the glasses (or other icons).
I have not used many of the accessories, yet. I currently don’t need the list pads – I use my phone for grocery or shopping lists. I own a set of the Bic Cristal colorful pens, which I like to use to either color-code tasks or make my planner look colorful. I am using the remaining accessories, such as stickers and washi tape, as rewards for accomplishing goals. As I accomplish personal goals, I will allow myself to buy and/or use fun planner accessories.