Starting A Planner: Using Physical Planners to Organize Your Life

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Planners have become all the rage these days. If you haven’t checked it out, here are a few links to show you how big it’s gotten: here, here, oh and this one. It’s a bit hard to believe, but it’s true. Writing things in a planner or notebook helps keep things at the front of your mind. Planners really are a great way to get out of your own head. As a business owner, this can make your life a lot easier.  

Types of Planners

First, you need to figure out the style of planner you like. Do you need monthly overviews? Do you like to intricately plan out every hour of your day? Try a daily planner. Do you need a weekly overview to make sure you’re prepared? Use a weekly calendar. Figure out your planning style and roll with it! There is no “right way” to plan. It’s all based on the way your mind works.

I wanted to quickly run over a few of the types of planners that are available. There is a plethora, so I'm only going to showcase my favorite. I get to do that since it's my blog. First up, we have Erin Condren. Her planners were the first planners that I found that were “upscale” or pricey. This was my first ever expensive planner and as such, I was thrilled! I used it for about a year, save for about two months during the summer - who does stuff during the summer?

I then decided that I would go for the cheaper, pretty much a knockoff, but still pretty and awesome The Happy Planner the next year. While I loved this planner and it works for many people, I couldn’t deal with the rings. It wasn’t working for me. I also tried making a Kikki.K large into a planner, but it turns out that I’m bad at that too. Those rings just aren't for me. I love the way they look but I just can't accept them. I also tried the Day Designer and while it was cool, I found I needed a weekly overview of my week and something a lot smaller. 

The final planner that I picked up was the bullet journal. This is a planner that is created by hand out of any notebook and pen you have. I picked up an A5 Leuchtturm 1917 and LOVE IT. I’ve been using it since August of last year. I used it until the beginning of May. I really do love the Leuchtturm 1917 books (I have a couple on the way for note taking), but it turns out, I like the structured version of a planner more. I picked up one of the first versions of the Recollections Spiral Bound Planners and am in love. I would say I'm going to stick with this for awhile, but who knows what I'll do! 

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I am going to leave you with a few more suggestions on possible planners: Inkwell Press, Plum Paper Planner, and one of my favorite that I am currently saving up for is the Pro-to-type Planner. Yes, I did just say I’m saving up for this one. I know I mentioned I wouldn’t be changing from my current planner anytime soon, but I can’t resist Yvonne’s planner. First of all, it’s a gorgeous planner! Second, I know Yvonne has some awesome skills and everything she puts out is worth the cost in value.

Getting Started

Don’t be afraid to try different styles. Like I said, I went from Erin Condren to a Kikki.K. to The Happy Planner to bullet journaling and beyond. I promise you, skipping from planner to planner is not a bad thing. It’s something many people do - multiple times. The term planner peace can actually mean you change planners month to month, year to year, or even when you finish a project or quarter. You probably won’t fall in love with the first planner you pick up. Even if you do, you may fall out of love when you experience how another planner feels to use every day. It’s okay to change planners as your priorities and life change structures.

Every time you get a new planner, there’s a ton of excitement because you get to set it up. I love getting a new planner as it feels like the beginning of something new. It feels like I get to truly refresh my life and make better decisions for my family and for my health. The first thing that I do, as soon as I get that new planner in my hands, is put the important dates in.

This is where you should start. Add your doctor’s appointment you have in four months. Add the date of your best friend’s wedding. Add the date you’re planning to go on a month long cruise. These are all very important dates which need to be added to your planner.

If you’re a bullet journaler (journalist?), this part is going to be a bit different for you. You don’t actually have a calendar already made and ready to accept dates for the next year. Using a bullet journal requires you draw the calendar - or at least print one off and add it. Either way, it’s not helpful if you have dates you need to add for the next few months or even year with nowhere to put them.

The way around this is to create a future planning spread. Use one or two pages to list out all of the important dates that you need to remember. There are plenty of ideas on Pinterest, Instagram, and in Facebook groups about how to organize it. Then you can use the rest of the pages as a calendar, tracker, note holder, or whatever else you want to use it for.

Moving On

Now, you have all of your important dates scheduled in your planner, it’s time to add some more. If you know you want to get a doctor check up in the next six months, add it to your monthly planner. If you know your pet needs to get its nails trimmed every two weeks, add it to your planner. If you know you want to get your hair recolored at least once every three months, add it to a list of things that are draining your bank account - and your planner.

If you’re a bullet journaler (journalist? Forget it, you’re a journaler now), then this is the time where you start drawing out your monthly overview. Again, many sources of inspiration are online, but when you get done with that, feel free to join us and check out how we’re using our monthly sections. For those of you who have monthly sections already printed, let’s continue.

I realize some of you may be reading this article at the beginning of the month. Some of you may be reading it at the end of the month and are excited to start the next month now. Still others of you are reading this in the middle of the month and hate that you have to wait for the rest of the month to end. That being said, regardless of when you're reading this, you should add some habit trackers to your planner. 

It’s up to you if you want to start these trackers now or wait until the 1st of the next available month. I will say this - you have a ton of things you can add to your monthly overview that will help you keep track of your goals and habits. When I was using a bullet journal the first thing I add to my month is a meal planner. I also track all of the hours I work in my month overview.

My fitness tracker is also located in the month. If you have room, you can also add a gratitude tracker where you add something you’re grateful for in each box. As with the bullet journal group, there’s a ton of inspiration online that you can check out. Feel free to explore and try new things. Now, I incorporate these things into the weekly and monthly sections of my Recollections planner. 

The week or day part of your planner is next. This is probably where the bulk of your tasks will be located. There is also the possibility of tracking things in this section as well, things like how much water you intake, when you take your dog on walks and how long, if you have headaches and what it feels like if pills have been taken, and so on.

If you’ve checked out any of the inspiration online that I've mentioned earlier in this article, you’ve probably noticed that some people use stickers, washi tape, and other decorations to make their planner fun. That’s always an option for you too. All in all, I want you to enjoy using a planner. If you use it every day and actually complete the tasks you’ve scheduled out for yourself, it can help you get closer to your wildest dreams.