How To Use High School Calendars Like A Pro
Welcome to part two of our two-part article on using calendars and planners for better time management (especially in high school!)
This ties in to the previous article on high school rhythms, and ties in to the post about timeless classic tips on using physical planners and calendars.
I’ve found that the more different types of calendars my students use in high school, the better-organized and more-productive and in-control they tend to feel.
Use A Giant Yearly High School Calendar
We’ll start off with my favorite calendar for high schoolers: The GIANT yearly wall calendar.
This is the best way to track YEARLY high school rhythms which means HUGE events…
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Sports weekends and big championships. College visits and visits from relatives.
All of these MAJOR yearly high school events can be marked visually and color-coded on a giant dry-erase wall calendar like the one I use every day in my office.
The calendar I recommend is the giant 4-foot dry erase wall calendar from Amazon. It’s a reversible, yearly dry erase calendar that measures 48 by 32 inches.
Because there’s just a tiny bit of space on the calendar for each day, I also use what I call “mini-journaling” and my own 1-10 ranking system at the end of each day to track the highlights and how I feel each day –
So I continually learn more about what makes me happy and energetic, which continues to reinforce itself and grow more powerful.
Again, just order this 48 by 32 inch dry erase wall calendar on Amazon to use for high school, it’s easy and inexpensive.
How To Diagram Your Yearly High School Calendar
When it comes to DIAGRAMMING your high school year on your calendar, I suggest you start by figuring out and predicting the toughest and tensest parts of the year and diagraming them in advance on your wall calendar.
Color code this part; for example, you can use blue for final exams, green for SAT/ACT prep, red for college apps, orange for sports events - or whatever you like!
Just leave a color-code key ON the dry-erase calendar so you don’t forget which color means what.
Use Your Yearly Calendar To Control High School Tasks
Doing this kind of calendar diagraming helps you avoid unpleasant surprises throughout the high school year.
In the last couple years of high school, you’ll have a LOT to do, but you’ll ALSO have some element of control over WHEN you choose to do it throughout the year.
By predicting the busier and slower sections of your school year and putting them on your high school calendars, you can spread the tough work out.
For example, you may realize that you have a ton of rowing competitions in Fall, and rowing team is really important to you, so you want to participate –
Which might mean you ACTUALLY need to be mostly done with college apps BEFORE most of your friends who AREN’T on the rowing team.
They might not have to attend a giant rowing competition during the busiest college apps season, but YOU might!
That’s why you can’t just act like a lemming and copy what you see your friends doing.
You are a DIFFERENT person with DIFFERENT goals and a DIFFERENT schedule so it’s on YOU to use the giant wall calendar to its full potential to help you get into college or whatever your main goal is.
Be Sure To Use A Daily Planner In High School
The other thing you need to use the most in terms of high school calendars is your daily planner.
I really suggest you get something cool or fun to write in - something that reminds you why you’re doing all this work in school.
I really love to use cool leather journals, especially ones that I get from my travels around the world.
Now this is a huge luxury for me, and by using a nice journal as my planner I’m more motivated to ACTUALLY open it up and use it to get things done during the day.
You could also use a purpose-designed daily planner with color-coded and organized tabs, or you can probably find anything you can imagine:
Amazon.com or the local bookstore will offer dozens, even hundreds, of designs of planners and journals for you to choose from each year.
Use Flashcards as “Mini To-Do Lists” in High School
As an ALTERNATIVE to daily planners, if you like to be a bit more spontaneous and free-flowing, you can also copy another one of my favorite tricks…
I use 3 by 5 flashcards to make daily index cards of things to do and I carry one with me at all times to help me stay focused.
Throughout the day I will often update my card by copying things over to a new card – that’s when I decide what I STILL need to do, if I should ADD anything to my list, and if there’s anything I can actually IGNORE and drop from my card.
I usually make one card before I fall asleep, for the next day. That keeps me focused during the morning.
Then I make a new card in late morning, again in the evening, and finally one more for the next day.
Like I said, I’m constantly updating my list, and it’s easy to carry the current card in my pocket.
I STAR the #1 top priority at the moment, and I CIRCLE up to three things that need to be done next to move on.
When I finish a task, I cross it off - vigorously. Crossing things off your list is the BEST part!
Sometimes I’ll keep one card all day if I’m being really productive, because it’s SO satisfying to see a whole index card scribbled-out because I’ve gotten so much done all day.
It’s just a little ego boost to remind myself how productive and efficient I’m being that day.
Use Monthly Wall Calendars To Inspire Yourself
You should use monthly wall calendars in high school throughout your home and workspace!
I also like to have several monthly wall calendars throughout my work spaces in key locations.
I’m talking about the normal 30-day wall calendars with a cool picture on the top half and the days of the month hanging underneath.
In my opinion, this is a type of high school calendar that’s less important for daily use.
That’s because, for my actual monthly calendar that I use for scheduling things, I prefer to use Google Calendar or other free, online solutions that work very well for the purpose.
I highly recommend you do the same since you can check an online monthly calendar from anywhere.
But, a physical, inspirational wall calendar can be very useful for noting key dates, keeping track of passing time to stay focused… and most of all, for my FAVORITE reason: to have inspiring pictures hanging in your room and homework areas.
I love my wall calendars! They help me stay focused and work hard.
Believe me, these pictures are SUPER effective for motivation and inspiration.
I also “x” off the days of my monthly wall calendar as I go to remind myself how quickly time is passing and to motivate myself to use each day of the month to the fullest!
Use Timers To Maximize Your High School Calendar
Now, moving to the daily and hourly levels, don’t forget about the humble hourly alarm clock.
Use these clocks to TRACK and ORGANIZE your free time and study time.
For example, you can self-impose personal limits on anything from Facebook to video games to time on your cell phone.
You can also try experiments in setting limits on your homework completion - which I call mini deadlines - for example, saying you’ll finish your reading assignment before a 45-minute timer hits zero.
I use these tricks to overcome procrastination and monitor myself for one of the biggest dangers, which is simply getting off track in the middle of the day and never COMING BACK to being productive until the next day.
A time limit can help warn me that my lunch break has gone on long enough, so to speak.
Reflect In Your Time Management Journal
Do you feel in control of your schedule, able to predict in advance which parts of the day will be busy, which parts of the year will be high-stress?
Or, do you feel slammed around by random changes in your high school schedule and testing calendar, never certain when the next big grade or test is coming around the corner?
Spend a moment in your productivity journal REFLECTING on how you use calendars to make your life easier in high school, and ask yourself if you could make any easy changes to your system that would put you more in control of your schedule.
Reviewing The Use Of Calendars In High School
So, just to review this article on physical planners and calendars in high school:
- First, be sure to get a giant dry erase, color coded wall calendar to map you major events for the year.
- Carry around a cool daily planner that you love to use, or try using my 3 by 5 flashcard to-do lists.
- Choose a couple monthly wall calendars for your work spaces, with pictures that inspire you.
- Use hourly alarm clocks and timers to track and organize your free time and your study time.
- As always, try use a journal to reflect on how you are doing and document your personal progress.
Everything is easily available by searching Amazon.com!
Tell Me About Your High School Calendars!
So, a question or two for high schoolers:
- Do YOU have anything resembling my multi-calendar set-up going on in your life?
- If you DO, which type do you like the best - using daily, monthly, or yearly calendars - or some mix, like me?
- Or, do you feel like you could improve and expand your use of physical calendars in high school? If so, what are you going to do this school year to be better about it?
Leave a message in the comments section to share your thoughts, and I’ll see you in the next lecture!
Make this year your most productive year ever! Get the complete Time Management for Teens Online Course or order the book on Amazon today.