As several of you noticed in my What’s in my School Bag post, this is my first year (in the entirety of my academic career) not carting around an analog planner. After being a complete stationery dork for years, these are the digital tracking methods I’ve tested over the last few months and the one I’m sticking to for this quarter.
Planners on Planners on Planners
You may remember that the first post on Xoro Media, then Xoxo, Rosana, was about my bullet journaling process. I started publishing because so many friends asked how to bullet journal, and it was easier to send them links instead of sending individual messages.
Last year, as my classes became much more involved I didn’t have the bandwidth to bullet journal as artistically. It was frustrating, and became a barrier to my planning in the first place. I broke down and got a Day Designer, a bullet journal-like planner that came pre-formatted vertically. It actually was a good substitute for my academic needs, but by the end of the year I switched bags and didn’t transfer it over.
I expect this happened because as I took more quantitative classes that required assignments submitted online, I was no longer writing much by hand. I’d take notes on individual sheets of paper that I would staple together instead of maintaining notebooks for class because it just didn’t make sense for classes that were predominantly coding.
So How Does Digital Planning Work
Since I spend much more time working on my computer, I had to find a way to track my life online. My first step was to double down on my Google Calendar.
Through all my analog tracking methods, I learned the hard way that if I didn’t receive an associated calendar alert on my phone, I would not make it to any event. I integrate all my Google accounts into my iCal and so track them all separately.
For example, using my .edu email, I schedule all my classes, office hours, and discussion sections. I tried including assignments in the notes section of each event, but that didn’t work for me. My school started using Canvas as a learning management system, which has an iCal integration as well and places assignments as All-Day events.
I use my personal gmail account to track more personal events like scheduling my exercise, meals with friends, or doing laundry. I add my friends to events, and have standing blocks of time with them at regular intervals. I find the key to maintaining friendships, especially at such a busy time is putting regular time in both calendars that you can move around.
Yeah, We All Have Calendars, Rosana
In addition to using my calendar, I found I needed a way to track more individual, immediate action items so I tested a bunch of digital trackers.
Trello is a platform that nests projects and organizes them by horizontal priorities. It also makes it easy to add other to tasks. My friends and I tried using it to organize our collective social calendar in the spring, and it was hard because we didn’t fully integrate it into our lives so we’re checking it regularly.
Todoist is closer to a digital Post-It note. Tasks can be prioritized, and scheduled at regular intervals. I was able to take my “Laundry” reminder off my weekly calendar, but the nesting feature digitally didn’t feel entirely natural. Todoist has a solid user interface across desktop and mobile, which I really appreciated. The largest problem I had with Todoist is that most of the reminders and other features were only included in the premium version.
Wunderlist is a cross-platform to-do list that allows for reminders and tagging. Nesting activities takes the form of folders, which I didn’t find particularly beneficial for my needs while I tested it out. It was free though so if you’re looking to level up your to-do list, it’s definitely a good option!
What tracking apps do you use? What should I try next? Let me know in the comments!