Student organization: 9 tips for using a calendar over the summer

By Katie Azevedo, M.Ed.

Calendars help us stay organized, remember important dates, show up on time, and function as reasonably adjusted humans in society.

I suggest that students begin using calendars in middle school so that they’re calendar ninjas for high school and adulthood. The sooner you start using a calendar, the better – and if you are waiting until school begins in September to get going, I challenge you to start now, in the less-pressure summer.

You need to know the difference between a calendar and an assignment notebook. They are not the same thing, and that’s why it makes perfect sense to use a calendar over the summer.

Digital vs. analog calendars

Super common question: which type of calendar (digital or analog) is better? Super annoying but accurate answer: it depends.

There are pros and cons for each type. You have to figure it out for yourself. It’s also possible to use both, as long as you’re diligent about integrating them when needed. Try them both for a fair amount of time (3-6 weeks), and then commit to something.

Tips for using a calendar over the summer

If you read this article that I’ve already linked to, then you know calendars are not for assignments or tasks. Calendars are for time-sensitive events that have to happen on a certain day or time. Below are some tips for using your calendar over the summer, whether or not you have summer school assignments. Some of the tips are suggestions about things to put in your calendar, and others are tips for getting the most out of your calendar.

1. Organize and plan your summer reading schedule.

Here are a whole bunch of tips for making a summer reading schedule. The gist: divide the number of days you have to finish your book (your deadline) by the number of pages in the book … read that amount of pages per day. Put this activity as an event in your calendar. (I mean, when did you think it was going to happen? Technically reading is an event, yes?)

2. Schedule your work hours.

Have a summer job? Put your work hours in your calendar. Do you babysit or mow lawns? Put those hours in your calendar.

3. Schedule appointments.

Whether you book your own appointments (haircut, dentist, oil change, etc.) or a parent does that for you, know when they are and put them in your calendar.

4. Plan summer workouts.

Use your calendar to track your captains’ practices or summer workouts. If you workout on your own, using a calendar for this purpose can motivate you to reach your health goals because you will see a visible representation of your progress. Don’t break the chainnnn – ya know?

5. Manage summer school work.

If you’re taking summer classes or or if you have summer work for AP courses, use a calendar over the summer to plan when you have to be in class and/or when you will complete your assignments. Here are some tips for taking college summer courses.

6. Set digital reminders.

If you’re using a digital calendar, set a digital reminder for events that require advance reminders. If you’re using a paper calendar, you can still use digital reminders for important events you don’t want to forget.

7. Check your calendar regularly.

If you don’t check your calendar regularly over the summer – at least once per day – then you won’t trust it. In other words, if you don’t check your calendar regularly, you might as well not use one at all (which is not a good option!).

8. Add events immediately.

If you schedule an event or an appointment, add it to your calendar right away. Don’t tell yourself you’ll add it later, because you’re just a human and you will forget. 

9. When in doubt, put it in the calendar.

Sometimes an event pops up that we techhhhnically don’t need to add to the calendar because there’s just no way we will forget it: our birthday, holidays, vacations, an event you’ve been looking forward to for so long that the date is tattooed in your brain, etc. I still argue that you add these dates to your calendar to build the habit. Getting in the habit of using and checking your calendar no matter what is the key to organizing your time and commitments.

Psssst!! Have you seen my new Executive Function Journal? It’s my #1 resource for building executive function skills. Check it out!

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