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Planning my PhD with The Happy Planner(R)

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

 

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Planners that I used through College and Grad School

Different planners were helpful to me at different phases of college and graduate school, depending on the types of tasks and assignments I had. Here, I’ll share the various types of planner systems I used since college. Unfortunately, I did not keep all my planners, nor did I take pictures of them all, but will include the pictures I have.

Freshman Year

To keep track of my schedule which was filled  with classes, meetings, and extracurricular activities, I bought a weekly appointment planner. Each class and type of meetings or activity was color-coded with colored pencils. I used separate binders per class to store syllabi, assignments, and notes. Every morning, I would review my class binders for what is due when, then prioritize and write my daily to-do’s on either separate pieces of paper or my portable whiteboard.

Sophomore and Junior Years

For the next 2 years in college, I used the planners provided by my university. The monthly views stored assignment due dates, exams, class schedule, meetings, and extracurricular activities. I used the blank lines in the weekly views to write assignments and other to-do’s for each day. Like Freshman year, I prioritized and wrote my daily to-do’s on either separate pieces of paper or my portable whiteboard every morning.

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