How to Organize Your Planner for a New Semester

How to Organize Your Planner for a New Semester

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It’s my favorite time of year! Call me crazy, but I love getting my planner ready and organized for a brand new semester. I love printing out a ton of new syllabi and being able to write down all those important dates in my planner. Everyone has their own way of setting up their planner each semester and I’m not saying my way is the only way or the “right” way to organize yourself. This is the setup that works for me and I’m sharing it because maybe you’ll find that it works for you, too!


Obviously you’ll need your planner. Mine is a Plum Paper ME Planner (aka Family Planner) with all blank sections (we’ll get to how I fill those out in a minute).

Plum Paper Planner

I use different colored pens or you can use a single colored pen and use some highlighters to differentiate your classes. Totally your choice. Just giving you some options here! I use Sharpie pens and Pilot G2‘s almost exclusively. I love the way they write!

Something else you might want to use to spice up your planner are stickers or washi tape. I have a ton of different stickers but I don’t really use them as much as I thought I would when I bought them… but that’s another story.


The last thing you’ll need is your syllabi for all your classes this semester and any other schedules you’d like to jot down in your planner!

Planner Syllabus

Step 1: Label Your Classes

Since I have a Family Planner, all the sections on the side are blank. I recently bought a white gel pen that I’m obsessed with and have been using that to label my classes. The gel pen is a uni-ball signo and I honestly think it’s my best purchase of 2016 thus far. The pens came in a pack of 3 for around $5 which I think is totally worth it!


I decided since I was only taking 4 classes this semester to give each of them a section. Then I gave my frat a section to itself because we always have events going on. I also wrote down two of my other clubs I’m involved in and gave them a section to share and then left a spot for any “personal” events in the bottom section. I mostly use that to track how many times I’ve gone to the gym and what I worked on that day!

Step 2: Pick Your Colors

I like to set up a key for myself when I get started so I can get a feel for how the colors look together. The last thing I want is an ugly looking planner. I usually choose 1 color for each of the sections in my planner.


Step 3: Start Writing

I will then take a look at my syllabi and add important dates into my planner such as exams, papers, and presentations. After that, I will write in homework assignments if I feel like it or sometimes I will just end there. A lot of my classes won’t entirely stick to the schedule when it comes to homework and readings so I try not to add too much in pen.


As you can see, my planner looks a little ugly right now because I couldn’t decide on the colors I wanted to use for each class. I finally settled on the right combo so hopefully it’ll start looking prettier soon! Also, I’m obsessed with my Kate Spade bow paperclip. It always makes me smile whenever I open up my planner!

Do you use a paper planner? How do you like to organize it?

  • Miss ALK

    I don’t color code my school planner, but I do color code my blog planner, and it’s so useful!! :-) I wish you the best of luck as you start your semester! :-)

    xoxo A

    • Thank you!! I never thought to color code my blog planner… I’d love to see a post on how you organize yours 😉

  • I don’t usually color code my planner as sometimes I do them in a rush, but great tips! I definitely need to gather all my syllabus to jot down all those exam dates lol! Hope we will both have a productive semester :)!! I know for sure I get lazy with the planner after the second month and keep everything in my head.

    • It IS super annoying to color code when I just want to jot something down (because 99% of the time I can never find the right colored pen) but I think it helps me overall! I could never go without my planner, I forget stuff ALL the time. My grades would suffer lol. I hope you have a great semester!

  • I organize my planner in a REALLY similar way. I always say I am a psycho organizer because I am so obsessed with color coordination and I get so freaking excited about setting up my planner. I really do believe being organized is one of the key components for success.

    • I get so excited too! While everyone else is upset we have to go back to school, I’m online refreshing the website trying to get my syllabi up so I can write everything down! I’m glad you feel the same way I do!

  • Love this! I actually organize my planner in a pretty similar way, although I colour code not per course, but per type of thing – exam, paper deadline, meetings, and so on… But yes, colour coding is life! (as are all the coloured pens to do it with :) )

    • That’s so interesting! I never thought to color code that way. I’d love to see a post or a picture of how yours looks!

      • I actually just finished writing out a post on that, probably in the second week of february I’ll post it :)

  • Sunny Morgan

    I’m getting an Erin Condren planner & I absolutely love the way you did yours. Especially the key so you know what is what! Really am big fan of your blog and love your posts! Such an inspiration! Good luck this semester!!

    • So many people love Erin Condren! Thank you so much, I really appreciate it! Good luck to you too!

      • A∂яιєииє Dαкσтα

        I really like the Erin Condren, but I hate how you can’t pick the starting month!

  • mQs

    I use a similar organizational system. I always enjoy reading about how everyone does their semester organizing. Thanks for sharing yours!


    • Thank you! I always love getting ideas from other people, too!

  • I do something similar! I’m obsessed with color coding!

    Lauren | The Arizona Prepster

  • These are lovely tips! I always color coded using cute pens for my classes when I was in school. Thanks for sharing your method!

  • Wow, it’s amazing what you’ve done with your planner! I never really could ever get into planners, I was more obsessed with google calendar!


    • Oh, trust me, I use Google calendar too! That’s another organization method I couldn’t do without.

  • Lauren Ruzinsky

    I have been looking all over for a post like this! I love seeing how others lay out their planners. Yours is so good and organized. So jealous how you have categories for each class and organization, as well as a category for personal!

    • Thanks Lauren! I’m so glad you found it helpful

  • Ashley Vickney

    These are all so great! I don’t have school anymore, but with my wedding coming up I need to get back into this! I’m sending this to my little though, she loves posts like this!

    • That’s awesome! Thank you so much for sharing it Ashley! Good luck with your wedding planning :)

  • Kayleigh

    Such great advice to get organized for the semester!

  • Kristine Circenis

    I have really enjoyed setting up my planner for this semester! I just switched from the Erin Condren Life Planner to the Purposeful Planner and am super happy with my decision. Good luck with your semester!

    • I’ll have to check out the Purposeful Planner! Thank you so much, hope you have a great semester!

  • Lauren Ashley

    This is so cute! You are so organized. I need to get my planner to look like this! haha :)


  • Bree’na Kolacek

    Finding your blog has made me so happy and helped me plan so much! I will be a freshman this fall studying speech pathology and this blog is such a blessing!❤️

    • Oh my goodness Bree’na! Hi! I’m so glad you’ve found my blog, you’re exactly the type of student I’m writing for. If you ever have any requests for posts you’d like to see me do, please don’t hesitate to ask! :)

  • Alyssa Jorgenson

    Ahh!! I just ordered a plum paper planner and I’m SO excited to start using it! Its so nice to find a blog from another science type who likes cute but efficient. Love your posts!