You’re Using Your Planner Wrong

My planner is cuter than yours. I’m not bragging; it’s just a simple fact. At the beginning of the semester, I went on an online shopping quest to find the perfectly useful and ideally-pretty planner that would motivate me to orchestrate all my days in glitter pen from January until May. I use my planner every day, and I would probably forget a lot of things without it. However, as nice as it is to pick up my lovely, flower-clad, spiral-bound daily planner every morning, as with many things in life, the overuse and misuse of its glories produced a debilitating sense of stress and inadequacy in me.

Woah you’re probably thinking, that was a dramatic jump. You aren’t wrong, but hear me out. If you aren’t careful, you could succumb to the same planning-obsessed stress that I did. Now, some people thrive on planning. It brings them more peace than anything to know exactly where they will be and what they will be doing five months from now. For many of us though, wondering about tomorrow or the next week or next month means kindling the faint flames of worry about deadlines we know we need to meet but do not have time for.

If I were to take a look at what’s written in my planner for today, I would find four must-do’s that could be easily crossed off, no problem. Yet if I glance at next week’s schedule or even begin thinking about it, swirls of unnecessary pressure foster, and I become far more preoccupied with tomorrow when I should be concentrating on today. I’m not saying it is bad or wrong to plan ahead; for some people, it’s probably necessary so that they don’t suffer the same stress symptoms I receive from planning. I’m talking to those who, if they dwell on it too much, dread the possibility of tomorrow’s to-do list when they could be channeling that energy into checking off the boxes for today. It goes beyond a “live in the moment” mentality, although we could probably all use a bit more present-mindedness. Rather, it goes back to a simple yet powerful verse we’ve all heard before:

“Therefore, don’t be anxious for tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself” (Matt. 6: 34, NIV).

Interesting. What if I refused to look at tomorrow’s to-do list and instead concentrated on my one for today? What if, when all my tasks were complete, instead of hurriedly beginning work that could be started tomorrow, I read my Bible, hung out with a friend, or indulged in a long-neglected hobby? For the past week, I’ve been doing exactly that: looking at today’s to-do list only, closing my planner and putting it away once those tasks were done. Simply and truthfully put, my life is changed as a result of this one small tactic. By finally letting “tomorrow worry about itself,” I’m experiencing that “peace which surpasses all understanding,” accomplishing more than I have in a while, and enjoying the little things like staying up with a roommate or writing for fun. It’s amazing what happens when we take Scripture literally, huh?

This isn’t just a plug for you to buy a planner, although you definitely should; it’s an encouragement and confirmation that not only is it unnecessary for you to know what you are doing a day, week, or month from now, but you might be better off without even thinking about the future in those terms! Tomorrow will worry about itself, and if we abide in the vine of Christ, He will “remain in you,” providing every need as He supplies everything for the birds of the air and the lilies of the field. Also, BloomDailyPlanners. The bomb.com.

Written by Karoline

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An Open Letter to the Unorganized Writer

If I am known for anything, it is my organization. I am your average Type A perfectionist who loves to nit-pick and fine-tune. I love to be steady-minded and ahead of the game, if you will. I’m also a writer. I write out my prayers, letters to my future husband, and keep a daily journal. Most of my writing is recreational, but I also do quite a bit of writing for my classes (as I believe any other college honors student would). I’ve come to notice that my love for organization and writing go hand-in-hand. My organizational skills have greatly improved my writing, and my writing has greatly improved my organization.

I think organization is a wonderful tool that can improve the products of any writer. Now, in a world where organization exists, disorganization must also. Disorganization is often caused by stress or a lack of interest in writing itself. The stress that makes many writers become disorganized is often a result of procrastination. Picture this: you have a five-page essay due at midnight, and it’s 8 p.m. The last thing you would want to do is sit down and create an outline for this essay. With a deadline quickly approaching, many writers simply want to get words on the page and hit that word count. A lack of interest in the subject at hand can also affect a writer’s organization. Let’s say you have to write a research paper on the history of the United States Postal Service. Boy, does that sound fun. You’re right, it doesn’t. Nevertheless, the paper still has to be written. Lack of interest will often cause writers to treat the paper like a nuisance or inconvenience, which has the same effect as the stress mentioned earlier.

Disorganization is one of the worst problems a writer can face. When writers quickly throw together a paper under stress or because they “don’t want to”, it is quite evident in the quality of their work. There are no connecting themes, the thesis is weak, and the ideas in the paper itself are simply not strong enough to convey valid points. Moreover, it limits the mind of the writer. When writers dread writing about a certain subject or under certain circumstances, they begin to believe that they simply are not capable of that type of writing. This is not true! Anyone can write about any subject and actually enjoy it; it only takes a little organization.

There are so many ways to use organization to improve your writing. The first step in starting an organized piece of writing is to evaluate what kind of outcome you want. How many pages do you want to write? What are the main ideas that you want to convey? How do you want to structure your thesis? These are all very important questions to ask yourself before you even start writing. If you have these questions answered before you begin writing, it will be much easier to structure your paper and reach that glorious word count. Creating an outline is so underrated. Before I start writing anything, I always make an outline. For me, this means writing a sentence or two of ideas that I want to convey for each paragraph (I did that for this blog post). This really helps me stay on topic and focused while writing. Let’s say I’m in the middle of an essay and I completely lose my train of thought. I can easily look down at my outline, see my main ideas for this paragraph, and keep writing! Lastly, when you get organized and give your paper the time, thought, and attention it deserves, your content is going to be far more advanced and presentable than if you were to just throw words on a page.

1 Corinthians 14:33 tells us that God is not a God of confusion but of peace. When God created you, He sat down and took the time to shape every hair on your head until He saw you as perfect. Knowing that God has given us His utmost thought and attention, we should, in return, glorify Him by giving that same thought and attention to the work we do. Take delight in knowing that you can glorify God by working well, and use God’s gift of organization to do the highest quality of work you can do.

Written by Lindsey

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Summer Suggestions

As finals are coming to a close, we college students are eagerly turning our minds toward the next three months of freedom! Whether we plan to work, travel, take more classes, or just watch Stranger Things reruns all summer, each of us looks forward to a break from our demanding college lives. No matter how much or little we hope to accomplish, there are several things that every college student needs to make time for this summer.

  1. Relax: Yes, you workaholics, even you need a break. Though some college students have no trouble taking a break, I, and other likeminded individuals, have a lot of trouble in this area. During winter break, I spent the entire month, sans Christmas day and my mother’s birthday, working in one way or another. At my church, at the Writing Center, and even at home, important tasks kept finding their way into my chill time. I never read that book I wanted to finished, never played a game with my family, and never revamped my quiet time or exercise schedule. Thankfully, the sheer exhaustion from finals week forced me to catch up on sleep, and Christmas gatherings forced me to socialize with family. Summer breaks, like winter ones, are intended to give college students a break because we cannot physically and mentally keep studying twelve months of the year. Yes, work that summer job and take that amazing trip to Paris, but take time to rest that overworked brain of yours and do the things you never have time for during the school year.
  2. Get some experience: While resting is important, those of you who are not workaholics need to get into the work or volunteer force and build yourselves up professionally. Find that perfect summer internship, get a part-time job, volunteer at a soup kitchen, or go on a mission or service trip. The people you work or serve with this summer will help you in your future profession. For example, I am working at the Writing Center on my campus, despite the fact that I am a nursing major. Weird, right? But even during my short time here, I have already gained professional experience and skills I will be able to use for the rest of my life. You can rest assured I will be getting as many hours as possible this summer to continue developing my professional skills (interspersed, of course, with a nice, long “me time” with that book gathering dust on my shelf).
  3. Develop good habits: You may have no trouble in this area whatsoever. You may have a perfectly balanced professional, spiritual, physical, and academic lifestyle down already! But for we humans, summer break helps us to rebalance. My problem is spending far too much of my time in the academic arena and practically none in the physical or spiritual. I am going to spend the summer revamping my quiet time, finding a workable exercise schedule, revisiting some old hobbies, and hanging out with friends and family as much as possible. It is easy to tip the balance in one direction and neglect the rest, so take the gift of time to rebalance every area of your life. It’s worth it, I promise.
  4. Prepare for the next semester: Yes, sadly, summer will come to an end. Don’t find yourself caught off guard when August rolls around, and your calendar lets you know that your next semester begins in three days! Take advantage of your extra time in June and July to plan your semester. Invest in a good planner, sign up for classes as soon as possible (some of the best classes close the first day of registration!), talk to your boss about your hours, buy your supplies, find a roommate… the list goes on! Do as much as possible before the first day of classes, so you will be able to dive right into your school work on day one. This way, you will not be required to spend the first week running to the store and settling your affairs.

Though my list may seem rather basic, each thing here constitutes an important part of your summer. Rest, rebalance, and prepare. Your body, soul, mind, and next semester require this of you! This list may not be exhaustive for you, or it may be too exhaustive. Tweak it for your needs, and head into summer ready to conquer!

Written by Michelle

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Graduation: I Remember

Four years ago, I remember wondering if I’d have a hard time making friends in college. I remember worrying about my tentative choice of major (English) and being curious about what it was like to only have one person—myself—to worry about. I remember finishing high school, fighting my mom over my choice to wear my glasses in my senior pictures (thanks for insisting I take them off for a few shots, Mom), and waiting for more news to arrive from that mysterious place called “college.”

I remember hearing the message on the answering machine that told me I’d been accepted to Dallas Baptist University. I remember being excited, then wondering why I was excited. Up to this point, I had either been cripplingly lackadaisical or worried sick about my life after high school, but that phone call changed everything. I remember the fancy acceptance letters coming from Baylor and Hardin-Simmons first, but DBU’s water-bottle invitation felt right.

I remember excitedly comparing piles of dorm supplies—bedspreads, decorations, and cleaning supplies—with my best friend. I remember helping my dad create a jigsaw puzzle in the back of the family minivan as we tried to fit all my dorm stuff inside. I remember meeting my roommates for the first time. I remember when one of them came back to the dorm on the third day of class gushing about a cute boy, and we did the weird hushed-squeal thing 18-year-old girls do when they talk about cute boys. I remember meeting that cute boy for the first time, and shortly thereafter meeting a cute boy of my own to giggle over.

I remember the moment when my family left me at the dorm, and I realized they weren’t coming back for a while. I remember just a couple of days later when I realized I could go to Whataburger with my roommates late at night without having to ask permission. I remember telling everyone I met about my new baby brother (and getting some surprised responses). I remember the first time my dad didn’t filter a “non-kid-friendly” word when we were talking, and I felt like I had really grown up.

I remember attending a dance the first year, then the second year. I remember deciding that staying at home with some blankets and an Indiana Jones movie was more fun the third year, and forgetting the dance altogether the fourth year.

I remember spending most of my free time in the lobby of the dorm, hanging out with members of the opposite species. I remember sneaking a bag of cotton candy into the cafeteria and putting some in every fountain drink they had just to see if it improved the taste.

I remember the day I decided to be brave and switch my major, and, once it was done, I remember the intense feeling of relaxation and excitement that assured me I had done the right thing.

I remember laughing uncontrollably for a solid 20 minutes at a two-minute video at midnight during finals week. I remember betrayals and fights that struck closer to my heart than ever before. I remember my first real heartbreak, and I remember picking up the pieces for weeks afterward.

I remember trying new churches for the first time in my life, and I remember the day I found the one where I belonged.

I remember many late nights studying with my favorite people. I remember many late nights avoiding studying with those same people.

I remember shyly wandering into the school Writing Center and asking, with more boldness than I had ever shown before, whether they had any jobs available. I remember being frightened by the forwardness that was shown to me, but turning in my application anyway. I remember countless morning shifts filled with yawns and coffee, and still more evening shifts filled with laughter.

This blog—my last for my career here at the Writing Center—is so hard for me to write because memories are powerful things. When I look back on the last four years, I sometimes wish I could do it all again—not to do anything differently, but to experience it all and savor every second of it.

I hope that, as you read this, you can feel some of what I felt, and you can remind yourself to live in the moment. College doesn’t last forever. Neither do jobs. What do last are the memories, and those memories dramatically shift the course of your life long after those friendships split off and die out, after those late-night trips to Whataburger permanently alter your waistline, after you lock your on-campus apartment door for the last time, after you walk off campus with your degree in hand. You’ll remember some of the stuff you learned in classes, but the stories you’ll tell your kids are the ones where you laid classwork aside and really enjoyed the moment.

As a 4.0 student and an introvert, this has been a hard lesson for me to learn. It’s easy to hide behind homework instead of socializing and relaxing, but I’ve never regretted letting go and having fun (for long, anyway).

So long, DBU, and thank you for the memories.

Written by Catherine 

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