How I Stay Organised | Gap Year Edition

My planning system is composed of various parts, each of which serve a different purpose, but ultimately work together. In my opinion, any good planning system needs to cater for the following things:

  • Events – time or day specific
  • Tasks
  • Ideas
  • Daily schedule (combination of events, tasks and ideas)
  • Inbox (not necessary, but extremely useful)

Events: Google Calendar

I use my Google Calendar (and sync it with my Apple Calendar for offline use) for events and appointments, as well as some reminders, schedules and study plans. Anything that is related to a time or specific date goes into my Google Calendar. I’ve split it into 6 different calendars:

  • Personal
  • School/Uni
  • Studying
  • Family/Travel
  • Content (Blog + YouTube)
  • Tasks/Schedule

Of course, everyone will have different areas of their life and mine will surely change next year when I start university, but for now this is what works well for me.

My favourite Google Calendar view is the Monthly one, closely followed by the weekly view.
I’ve had to erase some details to protect my privacy. This is the internet after all…

Tasks: Wunderlist

I use my Wunderlist as a catch-all for every single thing I need to do. The types of tasks I put into my Wunderslist can range from writing a 50 page essay to cleaning the bathroom, from writing a novel to remembering to buy something. Similarly to my Google Calendar, I’ve split it into different categories. Having all of my events and tasks accessible from any device wherever I am makes it easy to add things if I remember things while I don’t have my planner with me.

Of course, having so many tasks can be quite overwhelming. This is where deadlines and starring comes in. Anything that has a specific deadline, like a piece of homework or test, I input the deadline. The next thing I ALWAYS do is put in a reminder a few days/weeks before the deadline. I use the starring tool for marking all the things that I need to do most urgently, usually in the upcoming week. When I go to my starred list, I see a compiled list of all of these tasks and they are my focus for the week.

Overview of my Wunderlist and all it’s folders

Another major part of my Wunderlist that keeps me on top of things is a list that I like to call ‘NOW’ (idea from Thomas Frank). It’s basically a list of all the continuous tasks and projects that I’m working on at any given moment. This can range from papers I’m in the process of writing to interviews I’m preparing for. Some of the things on my list now are:

– Applying for Financial Aid

– Preparing for my last Medicine University Interview

– A Level Physics Revision

When I say that I collect everything in my Wunderlist, I really do mean everything. Some of my other lists include:

Someday/Maybe: this is a place for me to write down all the ideas I have for future projects, such as writing a novel or re-learning to play the guitar

Relaxing (not working): this is where I put ideas for my study breaks or for days off from working. Although I rarely look at this list, it’s always useful to have in those moments when you have no idea what to do.

Waiting on: this is exactly like it sounds. Here I note down all the things I’m waiting for or people I’m waiting to hear back from. Whenever I order something online, it goes here – this is especially useful when an order gets lost in the mail. Whenever I lend someone some money, I put it in here so I don’t forget.

Gap Year Bucket List: since I’m currently on my gap year, I decided to make a list of all the random things I want to do this year to make it as memorable as possible. I posted a (early) version of this list in a previous blog post.

– 2018 Goals: another fairly explanatory one – this is a place where I can collect all my 2018 goals, break them down into subtasks and set myself deadlines.

– Grocery list: whenever I finish something at home or remember that we’re missing something, it goes on this list. The best thing about it is that I can share it with my family (or flatmates).

Ideas: OneNote

I use my OneNote in a similar way to bullet journalling, especially the collections. As a somewhat-perfectionist, I wasn’t able to deal with ruined spreads in my bullet journal, or plans that didn’t quite work out. That’s why I decided to have a digital place to store these things. In my OneNote, I keep revision plans, books to read, notes from books I’ve read, my favourite movie quotes, articles I found useful, drafts of blog posts, etc. One of the best things about it is that it can be used offline!

Notes from the December 2017 Issue of ‘Physics World’

Daily plan: Paper Planner

This is my one place to collect the specific events, tasks, ideas and notes for/from a given day. I prefer to have a daily planner, so that I have enough room for everything on one page. This is especially useful, because then I don’t need to worry about having missed a page flipping through my bullet journal looking for something and I can use it in places where I don’t have my phone/laptop.

Two pages from my planner just before my IB Biology exam – I used some of the space for noting important things that could come up on the exam


My system might seem a big complicated, but it’s something that has developed over a long time and it works seamlessly with my lifestyle. Since starting my gap year, I’ve found that having just one paper planner for everything wasn’t enough. I had so much more to do without anyone reminding me to do it. I needed a place to plan far into the future (hence the Google Calendar) and a place to take note of useful websites and plan out my times (hence the OneNote). I’ve been using Wunderlist for a few years now, so all I had to do was change around the lists. I also had to decide on a Paper Planner that was portable enough that I could carry it around with me and it would help me organise productive days, but not so necessary in my life that I couldn’t travel without it.

Hope this helps! Be sure to leave me a comment with your own planning system down below or DM/email me with any questions.

Aleksandra x

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