When the Going Gets Hectic, Lean on Your…Planner!

planner Girl in front of a brainstorm map to organize

Everyone has those times when their thoughts can be too overwhelming. Classes, work, and never-ending projects all take energy and brain power to be completed. But how do you organize all your sparkling ideas and infinite to-do lists? These four options to help organize and structure your thoughts.


For school, planners are my all-time necessity. Balancing homework, sports, and clubs would be impossible for me without one. Planners can be pricey, which is why my favorite part of back to school shopping is finding a cheap planner that I can decorate myself. Cutout pictures, fun colored tape, and stickers are great materials to help make your planner unique to yourself and something that you love pulling out.

School Planner Organize planner

KanBan Board

One of the most unique ideas that I’ve heard to help organize goals, I learned about the KanBan board from a camp counselor. Since then, I’ve made my own and use it every day. Planners are great to carry around in a backpack and write down assignments, but if you’re like me and also need to have things completely visible so I can get them done- the KanBan board is perfect. The setup is simple. There are three basic columns: “Need to Do,” “In Flight,” and “Done.” Under each column, you can use sticky notes to write down things that you want to accomplish.

As the process starts for each sticky note, the note moves over to the section that it is in. The great thing about this system is that it’s interactive and physically moving a sticky note to each column can actually really help to feel accomplished. Maybe you have goals that need to be done within the day, a week, or the month- no problem! Rows can be made for specific time frames. I made my board with a simple piece of poster paper, but a few strips of tape can be used to create one on the back of a door, or even using a white board setup the same way.

Kan Ban Board Organize planner


I first used mind mapping when it was assigned as the format for book reports. However, since then I have used mind mapping for a variety of reasons. Mind maps are a creative take on note taking, brainstorming, and also a way to relieve stress. The idea of a mind map is that there is a central theme or topic, with lines that branch out to form different sub-topics. But mind maps are not your basic brainstorming technique. The purpose of mind maps is to include illustrations and key words that help focus your attention on the specifics. Although it might not seem like a logical way to organize, mind maps are extremely helpful for learning about large ideas, or just mapping out your stress and worries.

Mind Map Organize planner

Free Write

Overthinking everything is one aspect of my life that I’ve strived to improve. One system that I’ve been using for the past couple of years is simply free writing or journaling. I like to organize and have all my thoughts perfectly aligned- but it’s just not mentally possible. Keeping a journal and some colorful pens for freewriting is helpful when you are feeling stressed and anxious, or even if you just need something to do. The thought behind freewriting is to let everything you think to flow from your brain through your pen.

Instead of trying to have structured ideas right away, free writing helps to see the more abstract thoughts you have. The best way to free write is to not think about it. Anything that comes to your mind can be written down. My past free writes have gone from writing Imagine Dragons lyrics, to the amazingness of coconuts, to chemistry concerns. After just 10 mins of freewriting, looking back on your writing will help you feel more relieved.

I hope these four ideas gave you some ideas to help organize your thoughts! Get creative and remember to take some time for yourself every day.

Also published on Medium.