I use color coding so that I can see at a glance where I have the most work to do. It helps me easily prioritize and gives me a place to start.
The check boxes are a huge part of my success. It is so satisfying to put a check in those boxes and show myself how much progress I've made. For the past two weeks, I've been able to check every single box I've made.
It's kind of hard to see (please pardon the quality, cropping iPhone photos is rough on the quality) But up at the top where the arrow is pointing I have the gym, breakfast, and my classes scheduled for a time. By making sure that there is a time for everything, I keep from getting overwhelmed. I even plan for time to watch Netflix and time for blogging. It's especially important with the amount of reading I have to do this semester.
When you're using a planner the number one most important thing to remember is this: Actually use the planner. You have to have it on you. You have to leave it open. And you have to actively write in it and interact with it or else you will never get used to it and it will be just like those irritating phone reminders that you ignore. It's just a book filled with paper that you spend $35+ on.
BONUS TIP: Schedule your week in advance if you can. The one I have pictured is next week. There are a few holes in it because I'm not positive about a few assignments, but it is really helpful when you already have an idea of what your work load is going to look like so that you can be sure to plan around everything you have to do.
On top of all of this, I work my phone into the mix as well. You're probably thinking "Isn't the planner working in place of the phone?" Nope! I still use the phone to help me stay on track. I have all of my class times and my work schedule in my phone. It goes off 30 minutes before whatever I have scheduled starts. It keeps me on track so that I always have plenty of time to get to class or to work. There is event the cool feature on the iPhone where when you slide it down from the top it will give you an overview of what your day looks like the next day and when you have events scheduled.
How do you stay organized? Does a planner work for you? Do you manage your time well? If not, I would highly suggest giving this stuff a try. Trust me, if I can do this anyone can.