I love setting up a new planner. I re-do mine each quarter so towards the end of each quarter, I’m already deciding how I want to tweak or improve my current setup. Setting up your planner represents a new beginning, a fresh start. I always feel positive and see the possibilities of the days, weeks and months ahead.
It’s important to get it right & there are so many planner styles and layouts available. It is easy to be overwhelmed.
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Where to Start
When setting up your planner you need to make the important decision on what type of planner you want. Once you start your research you will most likely fall down the rabbit hole of plan with me tutorials and which accessories you need. These are all wonderful resources but remember to take a breath, stop and think about what you need. Start with the basics. Once you get the basics right you can build from there.
If you are a super newbie to planning, my suggestion would be to start off with a monthly planner and get used to looking at it each day at least for a couple of weeks. Once you have become used to that, add a weekly planner. Try a few different layouts of the weekly planner until you become comfortable with a particular style.
As you are moving through this process, you are learning what works for you and what doesn’t. I suggest that you find some free printables, because trying different styles of planners can become expensive.
Once you’ve narrowed down styles that work for you, then move on to deciding on which type of planner you’d like.
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This may seem obvious, but the first thing you will need to decide on is what type of planner you want. Here are a few options:
- A planner that is already set up such as the Erin Condren Planner. These already have the calendars and weekly planners as a part of the set up, so that will be something you won’t have to think about.
- Ring bound planners. There are a variety of brands and sizes available.
- Discbound planners. These are kind of a hybrid of the two styles above. They come already set up with everything a basic planner should have. But you also have the option to change the inserts to suit yourself if you’d like.
After you have your planner, there are more decisions you have to make. Below you will find a list of all the things you could need when setting up your planner. Pick and choose from this list. Your needs will depend on the type of planner you have and what your personal preferences are.
For example, if you are a functional planner, you may not want all the stickers. I am a functional planner and I find that all of the beautiful stickers distracting and I can’t see what I have to get done each week. So I don’t use stickers at all. But I do sometimes use washi tape on the edge of my planner to add some style and I definitely use coloured pens and highlighters.
Inserts to include – what are you going to track (write a little about each)
- Decide what you want to include – this could be as simple as a monthly planner or you might want to track your habits, finances, books to read and so much more.
- Calendar – If you are just starting out, you might want to start by printing out a simple monthly calendar.
- Weekly/daily planners – how much do you want to include when you are planning. Weekly views are a great way to see what is happening throughout the week. Daily planners are perfect to use for meal planning, to do lists and as a daily schedule of what your day will look like.
- Finances – there are a variety of finance inserts available for planning.
- Home/family – cleaning, routines, contacts, important dates, school information, vacation plans, household projects
- Goals – if you like to set and track your goal progress this could form an important part of your planner.
- Health/wellbeing – along with tracking your goals, you might want to include healthy go-to recipes for meal planning, track your movement or weight.
- Lists – I’m a lists girl. This could include simple to do lists or movies to watch lists.
- Dividers – if you plan to have a variety of sections within your planner, you might want to consider adding dividers to separate them.
This will depend on whether you are purchasing a pre printed, bound planner, whether you are downloading and printing your own planner pages or something in between.
List of options include:
- Punch – if you will be using printables, you might need a punch that suits your planner
- Stationery store – while not exactly equipment, your local stationery store can be useful for cutting your paper to size or binding your planner if you would like your printables to be spiral bound.
- Binder – There are so many planner covers or binders available, it is hard to know where to start. Filofax has some lovely ring planners but if money is not an issue, you might be able to consider a Loui Vuitton agenda. If you are setting up your travelers notebook you might want to check out foxy fix covers.
- Highlighters/coloured pens – If you are going to be a colour coder you will need some great highlighters or coloured pens. My favourite highlighters are the Zebra Mildliners & I love the Papermate Inkjoy or Staedtler fineliner pens for colour coding. You might also need to find somewhere in your planner to include your colour code until you know it off by heart. Otherwise you’ll forget if green represents finance or medical appointments.
- Stickers – This is one of those planner rabbit holes that are easy to get lost down. If you want to trial stickers, I suggest you start small with functional appointment and payday stickers and perhaps some flags or dots. If you like using stickers build up from there. Stickers can become one of the most expensive parts of planning if you let it.
- Charms – these can truly personalise your planner.
- Die cuts – these can be useful calendars, motivational quotes or simply decorative. Again, these are a great way to personalise your planner.
- Dashboards – These are a great tool to have at the front of your planner, and perfect for hiding what can become a mess behind it. Read this article if you want to learn more about how to use dashboards in your planner.
- Washi tape – this can be a simple way to decorate and personalise your planner or a functional tool for marking events.
When starting out using your planner won’t necessarily become a natural part of your daily life. Planning your life needs to become a habit. My article How to Remember To Plan will give you tips on how to do this.
When getting started, it will take you more time. More time to set up, more time each day & week until it is a habit and you’ve got your system down.
If you’re looking for ways to develop your routines, you will find this article helpful.
You will change over time – these steps are a great foundation for getting started. You will develop your style and preferences as you learn more about what works for you and what doesn’t.
Your life will change over time and this means that what you require of your planner may change. You may find you need a second, portable planner or a different planner for each aspect of your life.
Be patient, take time setting up your planner so that you get it as close to right as possible. Then you will just have to make small adjustments as you build your planning habits.
Happy Planning x